With spring finally upon us, we think about new life- trees budding, grass growing and baby animals starting to appear. Many people are also starting to consider if they want to expand their pet families. The advantage of getting a puppy this time of year is that it is certainly easier to undertake housebreaking when it’s 60 degrees and light outside at 6am rather than 10 degrees and pitch black. This is also the time of year when kittens will be plentiful. Cats, unlike dogs, are seasonal breeders and the majority of kittens are born spring through fall. The next two months, we will address the medical needs when bringing a new addition into the home.
There are many ways to acquire a new puppy, but the most important thing is to do your homework first and decide what kind of puppy will fit best into your home. We are always happy to discuss this and it is certainly better to ask questions and know what you are getting into rather than being surprised. Different breeds have different personalities and medical issues so it is always best to be informed.
When you get your new puppy, plan on bringing him in for an exam within the first few days. You should bring any paperwork you were given so we can see what vaccines and deworming your puppy has had previously. We will spend time at your first visit discussing basic care such as housebreaking, feeding and veterinary needs, so bring a list of questions so we make sure we address any concerns you have. We will want to check your new puppy for parasites, which are very common, so please bring a small fecal sample also. We will do a physical exam to make sure he is healthy and look for any congenital or developmental problems. If he is due for vaccines, we will do that as well.
Puppies should get a distemper-parvo combination vaccine every three to four weeks until they are sixteen weeks old. Depending on when they started the vaccines, they may get anywhere from two to five over the course of their first four months. It is not important how many they get but rather that they are spaced out appropriately and continue through four months of age. We also give all puppies a bordetella vaccine (for “kennel cough”) that is usually administered into their nose. Puppies need to be at least twelve weeks old to get a rabies vaccine, so that will be given at the recommended age. We also recommend giving the lyme vaccine. Lyme disease is extremely common (see April 2008 Nibbles and Bits for more detail) and the vaccine can help protect them from this potentially serious infection. We will probably also start your puppy on heartworm preventative and a flea and tick preventative at his first visit. We will discuss these in detail during the exam.
We want to have a long and happy relationship with both you and your pets and by starting early and taking care of his physical and behavioral needs, we can help foster the beautiful human-pet bond that is one of the reasons we chose and love our profession so much.