Puppy Health Care

So, you’ve brought a new puppy into your home!! This is a very exciting time for everyone in your family, including the puppy. One of the first important steps that you can take to successfully integrate your new puppy into your lives is to visit your veterinarian.

When you get your puppy, he will probably be about 8 weeks old and will need his first round of vaccinations. Vaccinations are very important at this time because most puppies have just been weaned off of their mother’s milk. While puppies are nursing they are getting protective antibodies from the mother’s milk. However, right after weaning this antibody protection begins to fade and the puppy is still too young to provide his own immune response. Young puppies are susceptible to numerous deadly viruses, such as distemper and parvovirus. Vaccines are necessary to protect the puppy during this time of vulnerability.

At 8 weeks old, your puppy will receive the combination vaccine DHLPP. This vaccine protects against the diseases distemper, leptospirosis, infectious canine hepatitis, parvovirus and parainfluenza. Booster shots are required for this vaccine. Usually your veterinarian will ask you to return every 3-4 weeks until the puppy is 16-18 weeks old. Rabies vaccine is required by law in most parts of the country, and will be given at 12 weeks and 12 months. These vaccines should also be given every 1-3 years (depending on which protocol your veterinarian is following) to be sure that the proper level of immunity is maintained. In the case of the rabies vaccine, it must be given every 1-3 years to comply with state and local laws. There are other optional vaccines available for disease such as coronavirus, Lyme disease, and infectious tracheobronchitis (kennel cough). Your veterinarian will determine if these vaccines are necessary for your dog and discuss the vaccination schedule with you.

During your first visit, your veterinarian will examine your new puppy for any obvious hereditary diseases or signs of illness. If you choose to use monthly flea and heartworm preventatives, these can usually be started at this time. These preventatives are very effective and are highly recommended to maintain the optimal health of your puppy. Deworming is also important and is performed at the first visit. Many puppies are infected with hookworms and roundworms from the dam, and the deworming will take care of this problem.

After the initial round of veterinary visits, it is important to maintain a schedule of yearly health exams. This way, your veterinarian will be able to keep your dog healthy and happy for many years to come. With the proper preventative care and attention your friend can easily live into his teens!