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Heathcare for your Puppy
Congratulations on your new puppy! Bringing home a new family member is always exciting, and raising one is a fun and challenging experience. To ensure that your puppy lives the longest and healthiest life possible, we recommend your new puppy be brought in to the veterinarian for a new puppy check-up within 1-2 weeks of adoption/purchase. Please bring with you any documents given to you with the puppy to help us understand any and all medical care your puppy has received.
It is extremely important that your puppy receives a full set of puppy shots and stays up to date on boosters for his or her entire life. Puppies younger than 16 weeks of age are very susceptible to many diseases, especially parvovirus, even if they have had some of their shots already. Keeping your puppy away from dogs who are unvaccinated or have unknown vaccination status and places where many dogs have been (dog park, etc.) is the best way to protect your puppy before he or she has reached 16 weeks and has had a full set of vaccines.
DA2CPPV (Distemper, Adenovirus type 2, Coronavirus, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza Virus):
First dose should be given between 6-8 weeks of age, and should be boostered every 3 weeks until the puppy reaches 16 weeks of age. This means that a puppy will need to receive 3-4 doses of this vaccine to be protected from these diseases. In the California Central Valley, our doctors recommend boosting this vaccine annually.
First dose given around 12 weeks of age (usually given at the same time as the second dose of DA2CPPV) and boostered every 3 weeks until the puppy reaches 16 weeks of age. This means a puppy will need to receive 2-3 doses of this vaccine to be protected. Booster every year.
First dose given at 16 weeks of age, booster at 1 year, and then booster every 3 years. This vaccine is required by law for all dogs.
Kennel Cough (Bordetella Bronchiseptica, Canine Adenovirus type-2, Parainfluenza Virus):
This is an optional vaccine but is usually required by boarding and grooming facilities. The first dose can be given anytime after 3 weeks of age. Booster every year.
This is an optional vaccine but is strongly recommended if your dog will have any exposure to rattlesnakes. The first dose can be given any time after 16 weeks of age and should be boostered once 3 weeks later. For pets who reside in rural and foothill areas, a booster every 6 months is recommended; preferably in late winter or early spring, BEFORE the start of rattlesnake season and then again in late summer Please note that even in vaccinated dogs, a rattlesnake bite is still a veterinary emergency! While vaccinated dogs tend to recover more quickly and have a lower mortality rate than unvaccinated dogs, emergency veterinary care is still required.
It is very important to keep your puppy free of parasites, both internal and external. Parasites such as worms, fleas, and ticks can make your pet very uncomfortable and even cause life-threatening disease. Keeping your pet current on parasite prevention will keep him or her happy and prevent many diseases that can be transmitted to you too!
Deworming for Intestinal Parasites:
It is recommended that puppies be dewormed for the first time at 4 weeks of age, then every 2 weeks for at least 3 treatments. A fecal examination under the microscope at your puppy's first visit to the veterinarian is recommended to asses whether or not your puppy has been adequately dewormed. Some parasites, such as giardia and coccidia, will not be killed by regular dewormers and require special medications to properly treat.
This is a type of roundworm that lives in the heart and can cause death from heart failure. Because it is transmitted by mosquitoes, it is very important that ALL dogs be on Heartworm prevention YEAR-ROUND, as it only takes a single bite to become infected. Treatment for Heartworm disease is extremely expensive and many dogs are too sick to survive treatment at the time of diagnosis. The good news is that many inexpensive and easy to administer prevention products are available to protect your dog. Prevention should be given once a month for your puppy's entire life starting at 8 weeks of age. Most Heartworm prevention products will also control intestinal worms such as roundworms, whipworms, hookworms, and tapeworms too.
Fleas & Ticks:
Fleas: Staying current on flea prevention will make your puppy's life much more comfortable and keep humans in the household from getting flea bites too (note: fleas do not live on humans but they will gladly bite them). Veterinarian-recommended topical or oral products, given once a month to your puppy year-round, starting at 8 weeks of age, will prevent fleas from infesting your puppy and laying eggs in your house, perpetuating the problem. Some flea collars can provide up to 8 months of protection. Because fleas can live everywhere, it is strongly recommended that all dogs be kept current on flea prevention, even if you have never seen fleas on any of your pets. While usually not life-threatening, flea infestation is extremely uncomfortable, can cause allergic reactions, and accidental ingestion of fleas, due to licking and chewing itchy places on his or her body, will transmit tapeworms to your puppy. Ticks: Many topical flea prevention products will also control ticks. While no product to date can repel ticks, they do prevent ticks that have jumped on your dog from biting and transmitting disease. Tick prevention must be applied once a month, starting at 8 weeks of age.
A microchip is a very small device (about the size of a grain of rice), which sits under your pet's skin and contains a unique identification number. Unfortunately, it does not work like a GPS, but should your pet get away from you and be brought by a good Samaritan to a vet or shelter, the chip can be scanned and the number identified. By looking up the number in the microchip database, your name and phone number can be found and you will be reunited with your pet. A microchip can be inserted at any time with minimal discomfort and is strongly recommended, especially since it cannot be removed or lost like a collar can. Just be sure to keep your contact information up to date!
Spaying or neutering is the most important thing you can do for your pet to keep him or her healthy and happy!!!
Spaying is the removal of the uterus and ovaries in females, and Neutering is the removal of the testicles in males. Spayed/neutered pets not only live longer, but they live much more comfortable and stress-free lives. Unless you plan to breed your dog, he or she should be spayed or neutered to reduce/eliminate the risk of certain cancers, infections of the reproductive tract, unwanted behaviors due to sexual frustration, and accidental pregnancy.
For small dogs (less than 20 pounds), puppies should be spayed/neutered around 4-5 months of age and definitely before 6 months of age. For medium and large breed dogs, spaying/neutering should be done around 6-8 months of age and definitely before 9 months of age. Spaying a female before her first heat cycle reduces by 99% the chance of her getting breast cancer when she is older. In small dogs the first heat typically occurs when they are around 6-8 months old, and in larger dogs sometime between 9-24 months old. While males do not have heat cycles, it is important to neuter a male before he reaches puberty to reduce unwanted behaviors such as leg-lifting and aggression, which can be difficult to resolve once such behaviors have started.
If you are considering breeding your dog:
Before you even allow your dog to mate and become pregnant, make sure that both parents are healthy, are free from inheritable disease, and that you have confirmed homes for the potential puppies. Keep in mind that more than 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized each year due to lack of homes, and each litter of puppies born, whether bred intentionally or not, contributes to that number. Also, life-threatening and expensive complications during pregnancy and delivery of puppies are very common, so it is important to be financially and emotionally prepared should you decide to breed your dog. There is NO benefit in allowing your dog to have a litter of puppies before she is spayed.
It is strongly recommended that new owners purchase pet insurance, especially when their pets are still young and healthy. Many insurance plans are available to cover preventative and/or emergency care, and are very affordable. Having good health care coverage for your pet can mean the difference between life and death should he or she need expensive care that would otherwise not be financially feasible for an owner.
Following our healthcare recommendations will help give your puppy the happiest and longest life possible. Enjoy your new puppy and do not hesitate to call us if you have any questions or concerns!