New Puppy Owners – The “what’s, when’s, and why’s”

Congratulations on your new puppy!  The doctors and staff at Oxbow Veterinary Clinic recognize that this is an exciting time for your family, and also a very influential time over the next few months for both your puppy’s health and well being.  Below is a description of common vaccinations, laboratory tests, surgeries, and other preventatives that we recommend for all new puppies to help them stay healthy.

Distemper/Parvo Vaccination – DHPP (Distemper, Parvovirus, Hepatitis (or Adenovirus), Parinfluenza).  This is one of a puppy’s core vaccinations, preventing against deadly diseases that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, pneumonia, encephalitis, and other life threatening infections.  Puppies receive this vaccine every 3-4 weeks until they are 4 months old (Usually at 8, 12, and 16 weeks), then again in one year.

Rabies Vaccination – This is required by law to prevent the transmission of Rabies – to both protect pets from encounters with wildlife as well as to protect their owners.  This vaccine is routinely given at the 12 week visit, then is repeated in one year.

Lyme Vaccination – We have seen a dramatic increase in the number of dogs in our area testing positive for Lyme Disease due to the increases in deer ticks.  Though not required for all dogs, Lyme vaccination is recommended for dogs that will spend a lot of time outdoors, especially those that hike, hunt, swim, or spend time in tall grasses.  The vaccine is usually given at 12-16 weeks and requires a booster 3 weeks later, then yearly.

Lepto Vaccination – Leptospirosis is a bacteria carried in the urine of wildlife such as rodents and raccoons.  Infection can lead to liver or kidney failure.   This vaccine is recommended for dogs spending a lot of time outdoors, especially those living on farms or that drink out of free standing water .  The vaccine is typically given at 16 weeks and repeated in 3-4 weeks, then once yearly.

Bordetella Vaccination – Bordetella is a type of bacteria that causes “kennel cough”, an infectious cough passed between dogs.  Puppies should be vaccinated if they will spend time with large numbers of other dogs, especially in enclosed spaces, though the virus can also be passed in places like dog parks.  If your puppy will be boarded, go to the groomer, go to doggy day care or puppy training classes, they should be vaccinated against Bordetella.  This vaccine is given at or after 10 weeks of age.

Fecal Samples – Many new puppies are infected with intestinal worms before they come to their new homes.  Even if your puppy has been dewormed  by the breeder or shelter, a stool sample should be performed to check for parasite eggs.  We recommend you bring a sample on your first or second visit.

Heartworm prevention and testing – Heartworms are internal parasites that are carried by mosquitoes and passed between dogs, leading to respiratory and heart problems, even death.    They are easily prevented by a once a month chewable pill or topical medication.  We recommend heartworm prevention be given every month starting at 8 weeks of age.   Heartworm testing is done at 7-12 months of age and then yearly to detect infection, as well as check for exposure to tick carried diseases such as Lyme Disease, Anaplasmosis, and Ehrlichia.

Flea and Tick prevention – Any dog that goes outside has the potential of picking up fleas and ticks from their environment.   Fleas not only cause itching and allergies, but can carry diseases and cause anemia in young animals.  They also can lead to infestations in the yard or house that can be very difficult to get rid of.  Ticks carry Lyme Disease, as well as other infections which are harmful to both pets and people.  We recommend dogs receive monthly preventative to control these parasites and prevent against the diseases they carry.

Spaying/Neutering – We recommend puppies be spayed or neutered at 6 months of age.  This cuts down on numbers of unwanted dogs (which often end up in shelters) and prevents some health problems such as breast cancer, prostate infections, testicular cancer and some behavioral problems such as marking behavior, certain types of aggression, and roaming.

Obedience Training – This is the perfect time to begin to introduce your pet to basic commands such as “sit”, “stay”, “come”, “down”, etc.  A puppy has the greatest ability to learn in his or her first 6 months of life.    This is also a perfect time to begin to socialize your puppy to new people, children, other dogs (who’ve had all their vaccines), cats, and new things such as walking on a leash, getting their toenails trimmed or having their teeth brushed or ears cleaned.  A puppy that has positive experiences in their first few months of life will be a much happier and well adjusted dog when they get older.  At Oxbow Vet Clinic we hope to help your puppy to have positive experiences at the vet, so that they’ll be eager to come back and see us as they grow up!