Having a new puppy is very fun and exciting, watching as they explore, grow, and learn something new every day. Your first visit to the veterinarian with your puppy can be a little over whelming, so we wanted to list a few tips to help you raise your puppy healthy and happy.
Pet Food and Nutrition
It is very important that your puppy is on a high quality pet food. If your puppy is a large breed, he/she should be on a high quality large breed puppy formula. Feeding your puppy table scraps (human food) or excessive amounts of treats is never a good idea because your puppy will become overweight. Overweight puppies become overweight, unhealthy adults. We would be happy to find you an appropriate food for your puppy.
Intestinal Parasites and Deworming
Most puppies have intestinal parasites. They can actually be passed to the puppy from the mother or very easily from other animals through contact with feces. Parasites are also transmitted by ingestion of mice, rabbits or any other type of rodent. Intestinal parasites live in the puppy’s stomach or attached to the intestinal walls and feed on their blood supply. Your puppy may have parasites if they have a poor hair coat, vomit, have black stools, or have a pot-bellied appearance.
Another important note is that some parasites can actually be transmitted to humans. This is why regular deworming schedule is important. Deworming can begin when puppies are 4 to 6 weeks old, and something to ask about when picking up your new puppy. Puppies should be dewormed 3-4 times approximately 2 weeks apart to make sure that all of the life stages have been killed. A regular deworming program should also be in place for your dog when it is an adult.
External Parasites and Prevention
External parasites include fleas, ticks, lice, mange, etc that can be picked up almost anywhere. Most parasites can be seen by the naked eye. These parasites can carry many diseases, such as heartworm or Lyme disease, that can make your puppy very ill or be even fatal. We begin testing for these diseases once the puppy is a year old. Although testing does not begin until 1 year, you should start using external parasite prevention at as young as 6 weeks and continue to use yearly.
Ideally puppies should be vaccinated 3 times, 3-4 weeks apart to build up good immunity. We start vaccines at 6 weeks. In this set of vaccines we vaccinate for; Distemper which is a fatal neurological disease, Adenovirus which is a liver disease, Parainfluenza a respiratory disease, and Parvovirus which is a gastrointestinal disease. At 9 weeks of age we booster the previous set of vaccines and give the Leptospirosis vaccine which is a kidney disease and can be transferred to humans. At 12 weeks of age we booster the previous sets of vaccines to make sure they have a strong immunity against these diseases. They also receive a rabies vaccine. All of the diseases listed above are very serious and can be sometimes fatal. They still occur in unvaccinated animals in our area. If your puppy is not vaccinated at 6 weeks, we start the vaccine series as early as possible. After the initial puppy vaccine series they only need to be boosted every year.
If you plan to board your puppy or to take them to places where many dogs visit, he/she should also be vaccinated for bordetella (kennel cough) which is a very contagious respiratory infection. This is not part of the core set of vaccines and is an option to you on a yearly basis.
What better way to help your dog live a long and healthy life than to protect him or her today from future disease? Vaccination protects your dog from many common infectious diseases – which can be serious or even fatal. Vaccination enhances your dogs quality of life. In addition, some infectious diseases, like rabies can also affect people, so vaccinating your dog also helps protect you and your family.
Distemper is a very serious viral disease that causes symptoms such as fever, loss of appetite, diarrhea, nasal discharge, skin disease, and even seizures. The virus can become airborne and enter the body through the nose or mouth or it can spread by direct dog-to-dog contact. Dogs who survive a distemper infection can have lifelong complications. Fortunately, a vaccine is available and part of routine vaccination protocols.
Canine Adenovirus (Hepatitis)
Depending on which adenovirus a dog is infected with, the complications can vary from mild flu-like symptoms from which they will recover with supportive therapy, to serious liver disease. A vaccine has been developed to protect against both Type-1 and Type-2 adenovirus.
Another common vaccine your dog may receive is for parainfluenza, a highly contagious disease which results in upper respiratory infections. This virus does not generally cause severe disease. However, it can make your dog more susceptible to secondary bacterial and viral infections which can ultimately lead to more severe implications.
Typically, parvovirus attacks the lining of the small intestine and leads to anorexia, severe vomiting and diarrhea, which can sometimes be bloody. Another form of parvo-viral infection in very young puppies can lead to damage to the heart and sudden death. Primarily, the virus is spread through contact with or ingestion of an infected animals feces. But it can also be spread by contact with contaminated animals, insects, or objects. Puppies 6 weeks to 6 months old are most commonly affected, though any age of unprotected dog can infected. Vaccination is important because even with aggressive treatment parvovirus is often fatal.
Rabies is an infectious disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. Following a bite from an infected animal, the disease develops slowly over days to moths. In Canada, wildlife such as raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats pose an ongoing risk of rabies. Because of the potential risk to humans, rabies vaccination is required by law in most jurisdictions. In unvaccinated dogs, rabies is fatal.
Leptospirosis is currently a growing concern in Canada. it is a serious infectious disease of both animals and people caused by Leptospira bacteria. The early stages of leptospirosis appear as flu-like symptoms which can be easily confused with other diseases. If not detected early in the course of disease, the bacteria can damage the liver and kidneys and potentially be fatal. Puddles, ditches, ad slow moving streams are all environments that can harbour Leptospira and can indirectly infect your dog. Ask your veterinarian about the risks to your dog and if a vaccination is appropriate.
Canine Cough (Bordetella)
Canine Cough (a highly contagious disease that is commonly caused by Bordetella Bronciseptica bacteria) is transmitted through close contact with infected dogs. For this reason, the dogs at greatest risk of contracting canine cough include those who visit dog parks, daycares, kennels, training classes, shows, et. Two forms of the vaccine are available – intra-nasal or injectable. Ask your veterinarian for more information.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread by the Ixodes tick (Deer tick). In the last 5 years we have seen a rise in the number of patients testing positive for Lyme disease averaging 6-7 per season. Patients with Lyme disease can show signs such as shifting lameness, fever, anorexia and lethargy to showing no signs at all. Through routine testing using the 4dx test we can catch the disease early and treat before long lasting effects can occur. There is currently a vaccination for Lyme disease for canines. Being vaccinated would require two doses 3 weeks apart then a yearly booster. We currently do not make this a core vaccination but make it available to all patients and highly recommend to patients who are at greater risk of exposure to ticks. Ask us when your in and we can help you decide what’s best for your pet.
Your puppy should be spayed (female) or neutered (male) at six months of age.
- Spaying decreases the risk of uterine and mammary tumors.
- Older intact female dogs commonly get infections in the uterus which is toxic and even fatal. The surgery to correct this infection can cost over $1000.00 compared to a less than $300.00 spay.
- Spaying prevents unwanted litters of puppies.
- Spaying eliminates annoying heat cycle behaviours such as vaginal bleeding, vocalization, and the strong desire to roam to find a mate which reduces the chances of having fatal accidents like being hit by a car.
- Unneutered male dogs have an increased rate of testicular and prostate cancer.
- Neutering can prevent some types of aggression.
- Neutering can decrease frequent urination.
- Neutering can reduce the urge to roam to find a mate which reduces the chances of having fatal accidents like being hit by a car.