Young puppies receive protection from diseases in their mother’s milk. Unfortunately, this protection begins to fade when your puppy is between six and twenty weeks old, making the need for vaccinations and veterinary care extremely important during this time. Make an appointment as soon as possible so your new puppy will get the medical treatment it needs.
The first visit to the veterinarian should be done at approximately six to eight weeks of age. It is best to bring in a small, fresh fecal sample in a plastic bag for the vet to look at to see if there are any intestinal worms. It is not uncommon for puppies to pick up worms from their mother and/or from outside. Deworming is usually done, whether worms are detected or not, at the first visit and the next visit four weeks later just to be on the safe side since intestinal worms are so common. Don’t worry, worms are common, but very easy to treat.
Your veterinarian will also give the puppy it’s first vaccine shot when it comes in for it’s first visit to protect it from certain diseases. Depending on the area, this first vaccine will usually be a distemper combo vaccine (that will protect the puppy from other diseases besides distemper like parainfluenza, canine adenovirus, canine parvovirus, and maybe some others as well). The vet will also give the puppy a full exam to be sure it is completely healthy inside and out.
After the first visit, two other visits to the veterinarian will be necessary approximately four weeks apart from each other to booster the distemper combo at each visit and to give other vaccines as needed. These other vaccines may include Kennel Cough and Lyme that will be given at the second and sometimes the third visit when necessary, and rabies will also be given at the third visit. A sample of the full schedule for your puppy’s vaccines and extras would be:
All these vaccines will need to be boostered one year from when the puppy was last given the vaccine to keep the adult dog protected, and some vaccines are given every year afterward. Follow you veterinarian’s instructions on what your puppy will need to get for vaccines and when they will need to be given.
The veterinarian may also talk about giving your puppy heartworm preventative, starting usually at the 16-week visit. Heartworm medication can be given daily, monthly, or even twice a year depending on what would be best for you and your puppy. But if you live in an area where mosquitoes occur, you must give heartworm preventative. This may be necessary all year round or only during the warmer months of the year. Ask your veterinarian what is best to do in your area.
The last thing your veterinarian will discuss is neutering (if your puppy is male) or spaying (if your puppy is female) your puppy when it is approximately six months old. Neutering or spaying has many benefits including avoidance of certain diseases and cancers, stopping bad behaviors like roaming and aggression (especially in males), marking territory (including your couch!), dealing with a female in heat and unwanted puppies. Plus there is the added bonus that neutered or spayed dogs generally live longer and healthier lives. The puppy will not hold it against you when it is done, as they do not understand what has happened. Considering how many unwanted pets there are in shelters, you will be helping your pet and the pet population by having your puppy neutered or spayed at six months of age.