We understand that bringing a new puppy into your life can be both exciting and stressful. We are here to help! Like you, we want your puppy to grow up to be a happy and healthy pet. This includes puppy vaccines, spaying or neutering, routine annual health visits and any health concerns along the way, all in conjunction with excellent at home care and nutrition.
Depending on the age of your puppy and his or her medical history, (s)he may need to receive the entire puppy vaccine series or just one or two vaccines to complete the core series. Wherever (s)he is we will ensure your puppy is set up on the appropriate vaccination schedule.
After birth a puppy will receive immunoglobulins through its mother’s milk, however this immunity does not last long. It takes time for a puppy’s immune system to mature, which is why your puppy receives a series of vaccinations between 8-16 weeks of age and then boosters a year later. These vaccines protect your pet from potential life threatening diseases.
Read articles that are specific to your breed.
DA2PPV (Distemper, Adenovirus Types 1 & 2, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus Vaccine)
This is a combination vaccine (5 in 1) and is commonly administered at 2-4 week intervals with the first given at 8-10 weeks old. The second is given at 10-12 weeks and the third at 12-15 weeks of age. Please remember that these time frames are generalizations and certain breeds or individual puppies may need to have a slightly different schedule.
- Distemper: A highly contagious airborne viral disease that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous system.
- Adenovirus: A highly infectious airborne virus affecting the respiratory system, and one of the causes of tracheobronchitis, also known as kennel cough. The vaccine also protects against the hepatitis virus type 1 and 2.
- Parainfluenza: A contagious airborne virus which produces a respiratory tract infection, also one of the causes of tracheobronchitis.
- Parvovirus: A highly infectious disease spread through ingestion of contaminated feces. The virus predominantly affects the intestines and white blood cells.
Rabies Vaccine – Required by New York State Law
One vaccine is given between 12-16 weeks old and a booster is given one year later, then again every three years thereafter to maintain immunity.
- Rabies: A deadly virus transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal. In North America this could be a skunk, raccoon, bat or any number of infected mammalian vectors.
The first vaccine is typically administered intra-nasally around 11 weeks, the second vaccine is given 3 weeks later as an injection. A booster vaccine is given every six months to assist in the maintenance of immunity. Most boarding and daycare facilities require this vaccine.
- Bordetella: A highly contagious airborne bacterial infection of the upper respiratory tract, and the significant component of tracheobronchitis. Other components are the Adenovirus-2 and the parainfluenza previously mentioned. Tracheobronchitis generally presents with an on-going dry, harsh, hacking cough and is commonly known as kennel cough.
The veterinarian may recommend additional vaccinations depending on the lifestyle of your pet. These vaccines relate to the following:
- Lyme Disease: A bacterial disease transmitted through the bite of a tick infected with the Borrelia bacteria. Lyme Disease can cause limping, swollen lymph nodes, joint and muscular pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, fever and in extreme cases can affect the kidneys and nervous system. It can take anywhere from one month to one year for symptoms to appear after a bite by an infected tick. If you plan to take your pet to a heavily wooded area or high tick area talk to your veterinarian about the Lyme vaccine or other preventative measures available. Lyme disease is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be transmitted to people.
- Leptospirosis: A bacterial disease often leading to liver or kidney failure. The disease is carried by rodents, “carrier” dogs or other wildlife and is transmitted through infected urine. If you plan to take your pet swimming in streams, lakes or other bodies of standing water, talk to your veterinarian about the Leptospirosis vaccine. Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be transferred to people.
- Giardia: A parasitic infection affecting the small intestine which causes odorous, pale, greasy or potentially bloody diarrhea. Infection is spread through ingesting the cyst form of the parasite from infected fecal matter or shared drinking water. If you are concerned about your pet contracting giardia talk to your veterinarian about the Giardia vaccine. Giardia is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be transferred to people.
After two years of age we recommend running antibody titers to help prevent over-vaccinating your pet. These are blood tests that measure the amount of antibodies to a particular disease in the blood. If the titer shows a low level of immunity, added protection is necessary, and we will administer a booster vaccination.
The majority of puppies contract intestinal parasites from their mothers. If left untreated these parasites can cause vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, anemia, stunted growth and even death. We recommend an intestinal parasite screening at the time of your puppy’s first visit with us, and then at least every 6 months. Guidelines set forth by the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) recommend even more frequent screenings.
Heartworm Disease and Prevention
Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease, caused by a blood-borne parasite. External symptoms of heartworm disease include shortness of breath, coughing and lethargy. Internal problems include potential damage to the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys.
Heartworms grow to be 6-14 inches long and can live for up to 5 years inside your pet’s heart and pulmonary arteries. During this time the adult females produce millions of offspring called microfilaria. Heartworm disease is transmitted via mosquitoes. The mosquito has a blood meal from an infected dog, the young microfilaria enters into the mosquito’s blood system, and over a 2 week period develops into infective larvae. The mosquito then deposits the infective larvae into the next dog it bites.
The infective larvae take 6 months to mature into adult heartworms. The worms damage the blood vessels and reduce the heart’s ability to pump sufficient blood to the other organs. The resulting damage can be irreversible.
It is much easier to prevent heartworm disease than it is to treat it. We recommend your pet start on a ONCE MONTHLY heartworm preventative beginning as early as 8 weeks old and have an annual heartworm blood test to detect exposure to any heartworm infections. If your pet is found to be heartworm positive, your veterinarian will advise an appropriate course of treatment.
Ticks live in tall grasses and heavily wooded areas, and can survive cold fall temperatures. It is important that anytime you or your pets are in these environments a tick check be performed when you return home. Don’t forget to check between the toes and behind the ears where ticks love to hang out.
Ticks burrow their heads into the skin of your pet and gorge on the blood. The bites can cause skin irritations, and spread diseases including the Borrelia Burgdorferi bacterium, better known as Lyme Disease. It takes one complete day for the Borreliosis bacteria to pass from an infected deer tick into your pet, so removing a tick within 24 hours is critical in Lyme Disease Prevention. The safest way to remove a tick is to lightly pull a tick’s body with tweezers and wait for the tick to let go. Complete removal of the tick is important. If a head remains imbedded in your pet’s skin or you are in doubt about how to remove ticks, make an appointment with one of our veterinarians to remove them for you.
If a tick has been on your pet more than 24 hours, we recommend running a blood test 3 weeks after exposure to determine if your pet has contracted Lyme Disease. If the test is positive the veterinarian will prescribe a course of treatment. If you plan to travel to heavily wooded areas, or known tick infested areas, talk to your veterinarian about tick control and whether the Lyme Vaccination would be appropriate for your pet.
Fleas can cause a range of problems, including skin redness, excessive scratching, anemia in puppies, allergic reactions to the flea saliva (considered one of the most irritating substances on Earth) or contraction of diseases carried by fleas.
Adult fleas are dark brown, about the size of a sesame seed. They live their entire adult lives on your pet and feed on their blood. Fleas can be picked up in the environment or through contact with an infected pet.
The adult female flea will start laying eggs daily (up to 50 a day). These eggs fall from your pet, landing on the carpet, furniture, dog bedding, and anywhere your pet goes. The eggs hatch within 4 weeks into worm-like larvae that burrow deeper into soft furnishings, carpet, and the nooks and crannies of your home. There the pupae produce a silk like cocoon and take 10 days to become adult fleas which only emerge when they sense pressure, carbon-dioxide (from breathing) or body heat. Once a flea emerges from a cocoon it can only survive a few days without feeding. However, cocooned fleas can survive up to 9 months in the environment! An adult flea with an ideal host can have a lifespan of a few weeks. Fleas can also bite people.
It is much easier to prevent flea infestations than to treat them. We recommend a ONCE MONTHLY flea preventative for your pet beginning as early as 8 weeks old. If you find fleas on your pet, make an appointment with your veterinarian, who will recommend a course of treatment for your pet and your home. Remember for every flea you see on your pet there are hundreds more in your environment. Successful flea control means treating both your pet and your home.
Spaying or Neutering
We highly recommend spaying (surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus) of female dogs and castration (surgical removal of the testicles) of male dogs when they reach 6 months of age. For female dogs, spaying greatly reduces the risk of uterine infections and breast cancer and eliminates unwanted pregnancies and puppies. For male dogs, neutering eliminates the risk of testicular cancer and reduces the risk of prostate cancer and behavioral problems. Spaying or neutering at 6-8 months does not cause a change in personality, guarding instincts, intelligence, playfulness, affection or weight.
Spaying and neutering are major surgical procedures and as such require a pre-operative consultation with your veterinarian. This consultation could reveal a variety of health concerns that may need to be addressed prior to undergoing anesthesia. During the consultation your pet will receive a full physical exam, a pre-operative blood screen and an electrocardiogram (ECG). The blood test will provide information necessary to verify that the liver and kidneys can process the anesthesia, and may also alert the surgeon to any underlying infection or blood problems. The ECG shows the function and rhythm of your pet’s heart. If all goes well with the pre- operative consultation, a surgery date is made for your pet. This can be scheduled as early as the day after the pre-operative consultation, and up to 30 days later.
On the day of the procedure, we will admit your pet between 8:00-9:00 am. One of our licensed veterinary technicians will provide your pet with personalized care throughout your pet’s stay. Prior to the procedure we administer a pre-operative sedative and place a catheter intravenously. This allows us to efficiently deliver medicines and fluids throughout the day. During the procedure, we use the highest quality human-grade anesthesia, and monitor your pet’s temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and the oxygen level in the blood; while delivering IV fluids to help keep the core temperature stable and to expedite recovery. During recovery one of our licensed veterinary technicians remains with your pet ensuring (s)he is provided with warm blankets and kept pain free. After a routine recovery, the surgeon will call you with an update and will schedule a discharge time. Pets that are neutered go home the same day. Pets that are spayed go home the next day, after a post operative exam.
Microchips are often injected at the time of spay or neuter. We encourage the use of microchips to give your pet an additional source of identification in the event of being lost, and these are often required for international travel. The microchip is a tiny electronic chip about the size of a grain of rice placed just under your pet’s skin between the shoulder blades. The number on the chip, along with your personal contact information is then entered into a national database for easy retrieval. Should your pet be lost and found, you’ll be promptly contacted and reunited. Many international travel scenarios require your pet have an ISO (International Organization for Standardization) compatible chip like the ones we use. For more information about the microchips we use, please visit Home Again.
It is important to start early with your pet’s dental health. We recommend brushing daily using a toothbrush and specially formulated enzymatic toothpaste for dogs to prevent the build up of plaque. If you find brushing difficult, dental rinses or chews are a better alternative in the fight against periodontal disease.
Puppies have 28 deciduous teeth that usually fall out by 6 months of age. If at the time of spay or neuter they have not fallen out, they should be surgically removed so as not to impede the eruption of the adult teeth.
As your pet gets older it is important to have regular dental health check ups. This can be done at your annual appointment, or can be assessed at anytime.
- Plaque: Develops when bacteria attach to the teeth.
- Tartar / Calculus: Develops when minerals in the saliva combine with the plaque and harden.
- Gingivitis: Develops when the tartar irritates the gums, causing inflammation (redness) along the gum line as well as bad breath.
- Periodontal Disease: Develops when tartar is not removed. Tartar begins to build up under the gums, and separates the gums from the teeth creating multiple pockets, which in turn allows more bacteria to grow. This can lead to loose teeth, abscesses, infection, bone loss and health problems affecting the heart, lung and kidneys, which can all be quite painful.
If your pet has tartar it will be necessary for him or her to undergo an anesthetic procedure, where an ultrasonic scaling can be performed above and below the gum line to remove the tartar build up, followed by a thorough polishing. In some instances teeth extractions may be a necessary part of your pet’s dental health. Talk to your veterinarian about developing an appropriate dental care plan for your pet.
We highly recommend feeding your pet a high quality dog food with a relevant balance of protein, carbohydrates, fiber and fat. This will give your pet the energy they need, a shiny coat, bright eyes and excellent body condition. It is important to select a food based on your pet’s stage of life—puppy, maintenance or senior and to feed the proper amount at appropriate times during the day. Ask your veterinarian for specific diet recommendations for your pet.
Pet Food Labels for Puppies
Always be conscious of pet food labels as they are federally regulated and help you determine the quality of food your pet will be consuming. You should be looking for a food labeled for the “growing stage”.
Contains a higher amount of calories, protein, vitamins and minerals for proper growth. We recommend feeding on a set schedule 3 times a day, using the quantity listed on the bag as a guideline. You may end up feeding up to 25% less or more depending on your pets’ lifestyle and activity level.
Socialization is the process of exposing your new puppy to as many different things as possible—people, objects, animals and situations—without becoming scared or aggressive. The healthiest way to do this is to provide a safe environment and allow them to investigate on their own time. Remember to create positive associations with new situations and objects by rewarding your pet with treats, calm praise or a play session. When socializing your puppy with other older animals make sure they are fully vaccinated and healthy.
Our puppy patients that are not fully vaccinated are welcome to socialize with us and other pups just like them at our hospital on Thursday evenings at 6:00pm with nationally known Andrea Arden Dog Training. Socialization classes are an hour in length and are offered at no charge to our clients by appointment only please.