Puppies: What They Need From the Vet in Their First Year
Congratulations on your new furry bundle of joy! This first year is an important one in your dog’s life. It’s a time of great mental and physical growth, and veterinary care is crucial.
Your Puppy’s First Veterinary Visit
Within a few days of bringing your puppy home, plan a veterinary checkup with us. This first look at your new pet will provide us with an overall picture of his or her health.
When you visit, please bring:
- Any health records from the rescue, shelter, or breeder.
- A stool sample from your puppy, which we’ll test for intestinal parasites, including roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms (Echinococcus multilocularis). It may seem gross, but most puppies have intestinal parasites, and testing shows us which ones we need to deworm your pet against.
Your Westmount veterinarian will perform a complete nose to tail exam of your puppy to check for anything abnormal, such as lumps or bumps. During this physical exam, we’ll listen to your puppy’s heart and lungs, look inside the ears, and examine the eyes. We’ll also record your puppy’s temperature and weight.
In addition, we’ll give your puppy vaccinations to help protect him or her against common contagious diseases, some of which can be deadly. Your puppy may benefit from additional lifestyle vaccines, which we will discuss with you.
Based on seasonal risks in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, we will recommend parasite control to protect your puppy against fleas and ticks, as well as heartworm disease:
- Fleas—It’s far easier to prevent than to treat flea infestations, which is why we recommend seasonal flea control for puppies at risk.
- Ticks—We have had cases of Lyme disease in our area, so we do recommend tick control for your puppy.
- Heartworms—We recommend a heartworm disease preventive for your puppy as well.
It is also crucial to ensure your puppy receives proper nutrition. There have been recent developments in dog nutrition which assist in improving your puppy’s health. We can recommend a high-quality puppy food and a feeding schedule to help give your puppy the right nutritional start.
The Next Several Puppy Visits
When dogs are young, visiting the veterinarian several times is in their best interest. We need to make sure they’re adequately protected by vaccinations, which set them up for a healthier life down the road. Puppies need vaccinations every 3 to 4 weeks until about 16 or 20 weeks of age. They will then have their vaccines boostered in 1 year. Afterward, when your puppy comes in for his or her annual health examination, we will start rotating the core vaccines. This ensures that your dog is protected against potentially life-threatening diseases while not being over-vaccinated.
Once your puppy has received enough protection from vaccinations, your Westmount veterinarian will let you know when your puppy is ready to start socializing with other dogs.
Having your puppy seen by the doctor several times over that first crucial year helps ensure that the dog’s heart and other organs are healthy, he or she is gaining weight and body mass as expected, and the teeth and bones are developing normally.
We will also ask for another stool sample during this time, to ensure that your puppy’s deworming is effective. Puppies need to be dewormed several times during their first year.
At around 6 months of age (5 months for larger breeds), your Westmount veterinarian will typically recommend a spay or neuter procedure for your pet. Spaying/neutering can help reduce some undesirable behaviors in dogs. The procedure can also help protect your pet against certain cancers and prostate/urinary infections. In females, it also protects them against a potentially life-threatening type of uterine infection, known as pyometra.
How Wellness Exams Help You
Besides playing a crucial role in helping to keep your puppy healthy for life, regular wellness exams give you the opportunity to talk with us about any questions you might have. These visits are also the perfect time to bring up anything you’ve noticed that seems different with your pet, like a new behavior or symptom or a lump you hadn’t noticed before.
If you have any concerns, though, don’t wait until your puppy’s next exam. Contact us right away!
Here at Westmount Animal Hospital, we strive to make veterinary visits as stress free and as fun as possible for both you and your puppy.
Ask us if there’s anything else we can do to help keep your puppy’s first year as safe and healthy as possible.