As a rule, we recommend vaccinating a puppy every three weeks until he/she is four months of age. We recommend this because we know that the immunity that passed to them from their mother (maternal immunity) lasts from nine to twelve weeks of age. We do not know exactly how long this immunity lasts in the individual puppy because of competition between littermates and other factors. As long as this immunity is present, the vaccination given to the puppy will not be 100% effective. For the vaccine to be effective, we must give two boosters after the maternal immunity has gone. Thus, the vaccines are given every three weeks until 16 weeks of age. Yearly boosters will suffice after the puppy vaccines are completed.
The basic puppy vaccines are as follows:
DHLP (Distemper/Hepatitis/Leptospirosis/Parainfluenza)- this vaccine is given every three weeks until the puppy is four months of age and then given on a yearly basis.
Parvovirus– this vaccine is given every three weeks until the puppy is four months of age. The “1st Dose” version of this vaccine also bypasses the maternal derived antibodies passed from the mother to the puppy. After the puppy reaches four months of age the vaccine is given on a yearly basis.
Bordetella (kennel cough)- is an intranasal vaccine (nose drops). – It is given with the initial set of boosters – once – then is given every six months.
Rabies– is the only vaccination required by law and is given at three months of age and is then given on a yearly basis.
Lymes’ vaccine– is optional and is recommended if the puppy is in a heavy tick environment. This vaccine is given once after the initial vaccine and then is given as a yearly booster.
Nutrition is the stepping stone to good health. We recommend feeding Hills’ Prescription Diet® or Science Diet Growth as compared to any other puppy diet. The value of the digestibility and nutrient content of these foods surpasses any diet currently on the market. This evaluation is because optimum energy, protein and other nutrient requirements are more important than maximum nutrient content. Many grocery store foods claim to be high protein or more tasty. It is more important that a correct balance in nutrients be present in a pet food than high protein, high calcium or better taste. We should understand that a puppy requires optimal nutrition just as a human baby does. Therefore, as with any food item, there are no bargains, good food is expensive and cheap food always equates with poor nutrition. Grocery stores focus on gimmicks and taste, not good nutrition. It is our recommendation that you feed your pet Hill’s Prescription Diets or Science Diet because we can faithfully recommend its nutrient content and results. You will find that your puppy eats less of this food because it is more concentrated and highly digestible. It will produce stools that are small, firm with no odor due to this high digestibility factor. Hill’s Prescription Diets and Science Diet has a 100% money back guarantee if you or your pet is not completely satisfied.
Nutritional supplements are often given to puppies in an effort to insure optimum nutrition. Vitamin and mineral supplements given to puppies have been associated with severe bone disease and intestinal problems. Calcium supplements and vitamin D supplements are the most troublesome. We do not recommend any vitamin or mineral supplements for healthy puppies on a good diet. We do, however, recommend the nutritional supplement Pro-Balance for any puppy who is stressed due to parasites, poor nutrition, anemia or other illness.
We recommend spaying or neutering between the ages of nine and twelve weeks. This is earlier than previous recommendations that you may be familiar with.
The reasons for our neutering recommendation are:
- The puppy’s reproductive tract is small and makes for a less traumatic surgery
- The surgery is less stressful at a young age
- There is less anesthesia risk due to newer techniques
- The cost is less than a spay or neuter on a larger pet
- A spayed pet is less-likely to have mammary cancer, prostate disease or cancer
- Spayed and neutered pets, on average, live longer than intact animals
- Sexual frustration, roaming, marking and fighting are reduced
We recommend that any other elective surgeries be done at the same time.
We recommend starting on dental care as soon as possible to get the puppy accustomed to the procedure of brushing the teeth. We also recommend brushing the teeth daily to prevent tartar accumulation. This process is very important for the longevity of the teeth and gums. Severe health threatening dental disease affects 85% of dogs over 5 years of age.
Each breed has different grooming tips but, in general, we recommend keeping the hair plucked out of the ears and keeping the ear canals clean and free of wax. Epi-Otic is a good general purpose ear cleaner. We also recommend keeping the nails trimmed short and keeping the anal glands expressed. Trimming the hair from between the toes, away from the genital areas and around the eyes is also important in some breeds.
Fleas are a common source of skin irritation and are transmitters of disease. The use of pesticides can be dangerous in young puppies (less than 8 weeks). A flea comb will remove fleas, but must be used multiple times daily. A mild dishwashing detergent solution will also kill fleas and is not toxic to young puppies. Use flea powders which are mixed 1:1 with cornstarch to 50% concentration. If the puppy is nursing, treat the bitch in a similar manner. In severe infections, you may apply d-limolene shampoo according to label instructions. Change the bedding where the puppies are sleeping daily. For puppies greater than 8 weeks of age, apply AdvantageMulti® topically or Trifexis® orally as directed. Control home environment by vacuuming, and application of safe chemicals such as Insect Growth Regulators (IGR’s). Please refer to our full article on Flea Control, for more detailed information.