Bringing home a new puppy is an exciting event, filled with play time, puppy breath, and potty training. In the excitement surrounding your new arrival, it can be easy to overlook all the steps that are required in keeping your new puppy healthy and free of preventable diseases. Listed below is a guide for all the considerations a new puppy owner must make.
Just like children, a puppy must be vaccinated in order to keep him from developing illnesses that arise from contact with the outside world and other dogs. Common vaccines guard against Parvovirus, Distemper, Bordatella, Influenza, Rabies, and Hepatitis. Without protection, many of these viruses can result in death. A puppy can begin the first round of vaccines as early as six weeks of age and should be fully immunized by twelve weeks. Prior to vaccination a dog’s exposure to other animals should be limited.
Puppies need to be wormed regularly in order to ensure the health of not only the pup, but of your family as well. Young dogs are more susceptible to the effects of parasites such as tapeworm, roundworm, whipworm, and hookworm because their immune systems are not fully developed. Veterinarians recommend that puppies be administered a worming tablet that targets all of the above mentioned parasites every two weeks, starting at 2 weeks of age and ending when they are 12 weeks old. After that, the puppy should be wormed every month until 6 months of age, and then every 3 months for the rest of the dog’s life. A wormer such as Drontal is recommended.
There are many benefits of desexing your puppy, including a drastically reduced risk of cancers that affect reproductive organs, decreased aggression and marking in male dogs, and elimination of the potential for an unwanted pregnancy. Male dogs can be neutered as soon as their testicles descend, and females should be spayed before their first heat cycle, which typically occurs at 6 months of age.
At your puppy’s first vaccination appointment, inquire about microchipping your dog. For a small fee, a microchip that contains all of your contact information is inserted between your dog’s shoulder blades that can quickly be scanned should your dog ever become lost or stolen.
Socialization, which is the introduction of your dog to as many new people, places, sights, sounds, and smells as possible, is important from an early age. The better socialized your dog becomes, the better behaved he or she will be, as socialization helps a dog learn important coping mechanisms for new and stressful situations. Puppy school combines obedience training with puppy play time for dogs aged 10 – 14 weeks old, and is highly recommended to new puppy owners and veteran dog owners alike.
After your dog’s last round of vaccines, talk to your veterinarian about appropriate follow up care. Your dog should receive a physical at least once per year, and should also be on a heartworm and flea preventative. Your veterinarian will be able to recommend the proper timeline and products specific to your pet to ensure optimal health.