We feel the most important thing we do here at Linden Heights Animal Hospital is to promote preventative care- or "Wellness Care"- beginning with your puppy's very first visit. We feel our guidance can be a crucial part of your puppy's first few months while he or she is rapidly becoming a cherished part of your family, so we would like you to feel comfortable asking questions- just remember, that's why we're here! This summary of our routine Puppy Wellness Program is designed to give an overview of some of the more important topics during your puppy's first year.
Typically, we recommend beginning your puppy's vaccination program between 6 and 8 weeks of age with boosters 3 to 4 weeks apart until he or she is 16 weeks of age. In most cases, we vaccinate for the following diseases: Canine Distemper Virus, Canine Hepatitis Virus, Leptosporosis, Canine Parvovirus, Canine Parainfluenza Virus, and Rabies. Additionally, many dogs are vaccinated against Bordetella (kennel cough) especially if there will be exposure to other dogs during boarding, grooming, or training classes. In some cases, we may also recommend vaccination against Lyme Disease. You will find detailed descriptions of these diseases in your Puppy Care Kit, which you will receive at you first visit (if you don't receive your Puppy Care Kit, please ask for one).
In addition to intestinal parasites from their environment. What many new pet owners don't realize is that puppies can also get roundworms and hookworms (before birth) from their mothers. For this reason-and because humans can potentially develop serious problems if exposed to immature forms of roundworms and hookworms-we recommend deworming all puppies several times between the ages of 3 and 12 weeks.
"Why does my puppy need so many shots?"
This is a common question from many new puppy owners. The answer lies in understanding the immune system of the young pup. At birth and shortly thereafter, a puppy receives a certain amount of maternal antibodies from the mother. These antibodies provide vital protection during the puppy's first weeks - without this protection, the puppy could easily die from any number of life-threatening infections. Somewhere between 6 and 16 weeks of age the mother's antibodies begin to wear off, and the puppy's own immune system must take over the job of fighting infections. Each individual puppy loses maternal antibodies at a different rate. By periodically vaccinating puppies during this "window of opportunity", we hope to boost the puppy's immune system against life-threatening infections such as Distemper and Parvovirus.
In addition to intestinal parasites such as hookworms and roundworms, puppies are also vulnerable to picking up whipworms, tapeworms, and heartworms. Roundworm, hookworm, and whipworm infestations are easily prevented by a once-monthly medication. Hearworm disease is almost always fatal and yet highly preventable; therefore we prescribe heartworm preventative during one of your puppy's first visits and recommend continuing it through his or her entire life. The most common tapeworm can be prevented by preventing flea infestations.
The most common external parasites we encounter are fleas, with ticks being common in late winter/spring/early summer. We have a variety of flea and tick control products available which are effective and safe depending on your puppy's age. Flea control is a very complicated process, so please feel free to ask about the variety of flea control options available.
Bringing your puppy in for one of these safe, common surgical procedures is perhaps the single most important decision you can ever make to lengthen and improve the quality of your pet's life.
For female dogs, spaying eliminates or greatly minimizes problems with:
unwanted pregnancy, which helps prevent overpopulation
attraction of male dogs during "heat" cycles
potentially life-threatening uterine infections and breast cancer
For male dogs, neutering eliminates or greatly minimizes problems with:
aggression and dominance
roaming, which helps prevent pet overpopulation
territorial marking with urine
prostate cancer and infections
perianal adenocarcinoma (an extremely malignant cancer of the rectum and/or anus)
Dogs are living longer now than ever before, partly because of basic vaccination and preventative health care programs. In addition, current advances in veterinary medicine have greatly improved our understanding of canine nutrition. From the time your puppy is weaned until it is a Senior Citizen, the type of food you feed it can greatly influence his or her health in a variety of ways.
Proper nutrition is vital for:
shiny, healthy coat
active, competent immune system
strong bones and teeth
efficient digestion to prevent vomiting and diarrhea
Research shows that the number one cause of euthanasia in the United Staes is also one of the most preventable: behavior problems. Between the ages of 8 and 16 weeks, puppies learn a vast majority of what they will need to know for the rest of their lives. Therefore it is critical to begin a consistent plan of training during this time. Whether the subject is crate training or obedience clasees, we can give you advice on helping your puppy become a valuable and well behaved member of your family starting at your very first visit.