Puppies need to visit the veterinary clinic every 3 to 4 weeks until they reach 16 to 18 weeks of age. Perhaps you are wondering why this is such a critical part of your growing puppy’s routine? Well, these visits serve many important purposes and allow for us to cover crucial aspects of your puppy’s growth and development. If you have a puppy or plan to obtain one soon, this blog will help you understand what we cover with the veterinary visits. Click on the topic links for additional explanations of each item.
Full physical examination: We make sure your puppy seems healthy and normal for his or her age. We will discuss ways to address any problems we identify.
Vaccinations: This is a big one for puppies! We need to get your puppy vaccinated with all the core vaccinations so that he or she is protected around other dogs and in the environment. Each vaccine is timed to be administered at the correct age according to vaccine labeling and state law (in the case of the rabies vaccine). Some vaccines need to be boostered multiple times as your puppy matures. For example, with the distemper/ adenovirus / parainfluenza / parvovirus combination vaccination, maternal antibodies can interfere with vaccine effectiveness. So, we need to booster this one every 3 to 4 weeks until we know the maternal antibodies are no longer a problem (which is between 16 and 18 weeks of age). Always remember that your growing puppy is not fully protected while they are in the middle of their puppy series – so be selective where you take them!
Intestinal Parasite Testing: Puppies are often infected with intestinal parasites (they can get them through transplacental transmission, nursing, and from the environment). Sometimes the parasites might be in the body but not be shedding eggs at the time of fecal sample collection. Therefore, we recommend multiple fecal checks during the puppy series so that we can be more confident we have found problem parasites. This is especially important since some parasites can be transmitted between people and animals (zoonotic).
Preventive Medications: Your puppy should receive heartworm prevention year-round, so it’s best to get in the habit right away. Most heartworm preventives also help to deworm for some intestinal parasites which is a great thing! Fleas and ticks are annoying, but they can also transmit diseases and create health problems in your puppy. Therefore we will recommend ways to protect your puppy from fleas and ticks.
Nutrition: Growing puppies need high quality puppy food. Additionally, the food should be formulated for breed size. For example, large breed puppies need large breed puppy food for optimal orthopedic growth. We can discuss brands, feeding schedules, appetite, or any other topic related to nutrition that might be relevant for your puppy.
Spaying & Neutering: Spaying and neutering recommendations have changed in recent years. We will formulate a plan that best fits the needs of you and your puppy.
Grooming & Dental Health: We will discuss daily care (grooming, dental health, ear care, toenails, etc.) for your puppy. We can talk through any problems or difficulties you may be having at home so that you can obtain success in these areas.
Behavior: There are many areas to address with puppy behavior training. Some puppies will pick things up easily, and some will take more time. Behavior topics include things like socialization, command training, potty training, crate training, play biting, chewing, leash training, and general handling. We want you to have the opportunity to ask questions and talk through anything you are struggling with at home. Fixing behavioral concerns early will help your puppy grow up to be a well-behaved adult dog!
Microchipping: We recommend you consider having your puppy permanently identified with a microchip. We can talk further about this process, and also perform the microchipping, during the puppy visits.
Pet Insurance: Pet insurance can offer many potential benefits – for expected wellness visits, for unexpected emergencies or accidents, or for both. With so many pet insurance company options available, we encourage you to consider the choices and find one that will best suit your needs.
Question Time: Perhaps most importantly for you as the pet owner, these puppy visits offer an excellent opportunity for you to bring up any questions or concerns you are having with your puppy. We find that partnering with you and working together as a team helps you feel supported throughout your puppy’s growing process.
Do you have questions about your puppy? Is it time for your puppy’s next visit? Give us a call today!
Author: Dr. C. Noureddine, DVM, MS