Puppy Veterinary Care: What Does My Puppy Really Need?
We LOVE seeing new puppies come into River Road Veterinary Clinic, and lately we have been seeing a lot of them! Bringing home a new member of the family is both exciting and a little bit overwhelming. Training a new puppy can be exhausting, finding time to give them the proper amount of attention and exercise can be challenging, and keeping all of their medical needs straight can be very confusing! The following information is designed to give you an introduction to the various tests, medications, and vaccinations that most puppies will need to become healthy, happy adult dogs!
The ideal age for your puppy’s first trip to the veterinarian is 8 weeks old, or whenever you bring your new puppy home. We will ask you to bring your puppy’s paperwork as well as a fecal sample to your first visit. The fecal sample will allow us to see if your puppy has any intestinal parasites (roundworms, tapeworms, etc.), which is very common. Regardless of the results of the fecal sample it is always good practice to give your puppy a dewormer if he/she has not had one yet. We will also give your puppy his/her first Distemper vaccination. The Distemper (DAHP vaccine) is a combination vaccine recommended for all dogs. It offers protection against four contagious canine diseases- Distemper, Adenovirus, Hepatitis, and Parvovirus. This vaccine needs to be boostered at 12 weeks and 16 weeks, and then annually. At this point your puppy should start on a heartworm prevention and flea/tick medication. These medications are given monthly and are based upon weight so you will likely need a new size each month as your puppy continues to grow. These medications work best when given year round.
Your puppy’s second appointment should be when he/she is 12 weeks old. At this appointment the veterinarian will give the second Distemper vaccine. Additionally your puppy will receive a Rabies vaccination (which must be given after 12 weeks of age). This vaccine is valid for 1 year. If your puppy was positive for intestinal parasites at his/her initial visit a repeat fecal test should be performed. A new appropriate dose of heartworm prevention and flea/tick medication will also be sent home.
Your puppy’s third appointment should be when he/she is 16 weeks old. The veterinarian will give your puppy his/her final Distemper vaccine. River Road Veterinary Clinic recommends that all dogs are vaccinated for Lyme disease due to the increasing prevalence of this potentially devastating disease in this area. If you wish to have your puppy vaccinated for Lyme disease the first vaccination will also be given today. It will need to be boostered in 2-3 weeks, and then annually after that. A new appropriate dose of heartworm prevention and flea/tick medication will also be sent home.
Your puppy’s final appointment should be at 18 weeks when he/she will receive a final Lyme vaccination and an oral Bordetella vaccine. Bordetella is a kennel cough vaccine that should needs to be boostered every 6 months and should be given to dogs that will be boarding, groomed, or otherwise be in contact with other dogs. We also recommend that all dogs receive a HomeAgain Microchip- which gives them a form of permanent identification, greatly increasing their chances of being reunited with you if they ever go missing.
Your puppy should return to us at 6 months to see a veterinary technician and have some blood drawn for a Heartworm/tick panel. This quick test will let us know if your dog is affected with Heartworm disease (especially important for puppies adopted from the South), Lyme, Anaplasmosis or Ehrlichiosis (tick-borne diseases which are often initially asymptomatic).
River Road Veterinary Clinic should then see your puppy at 1 year to have him/her spayed or neutered. Waiting until your puppy is 1 year old can help to avoid orthopedic problems such as cruciate tears, decreases the likelihood of certain cancers, and decreases the likelihood that your dog will suffer from urinary incontinence.
*Please keep in mind that this is simply a set of guidelines/suggestions that may or may not work for your puppy and your family. Each animal is an individual our general guidelines will be tailored to meet his/her specific needs.