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  • Writer's pictureStacey Gillis

So you have a new puppy!🎉 How do you keep them healthy?

Congratulations on your new puppy!

Now what do they need? 🤷🏼‍♀️

Puppies are ideally with their mom for the first 8 weeks to allow them to nurse and receive maternal antibodies to things like Parvo and distemper virus.

Before 8 weeks it is very difficult to know if vaccines will give them any immune protection due to having maternal antibodies and an immature immune system. So starting at 8 weeks they will be ready for their first distemper, adenovirus (hepatitis), parvo, and parainfluenza vaccine (DAPP).

Wait though before you take her out to the dog park or even the front yard, she's still not really protected until her immune system has time to see and react to the vaccine.

She will need booster DAPP vaccines at 12 and 16 weeks before she is really safe.

Then it will be a 1 year booster.

What else you may think?

Deworming is very vital to a puppy's health and well-being. Most puppies are naturally infected with parasites when they nurse from their mom. The worms have a very slick cycle of encysting in the muscle tissue early in life and get the message to head down to the milk glands when it's time for puppy delivery.

Ideally, deworming with a broad spectrum dewormer is indicated (Pyrantel) at the time of the vaccine boosters. If your puppy develops any diarrhea, does not seem to be thrifty, or other concerns a fecal parasite exam will be recommended. Often it is a good idea to routinely test a puppy for Giardia and other small parasites that routine deworming does not catch. Roundworms and giardiasis are a risk to humans!

What about other vaccines?

Other important vaccines include Leptospria, which is a bacteria shed by wildlife (think you don't have that in your yard?- squirrels and rodents are also wildlife!) in the urine and acquired often by drinking a contaminated water source or puddle. It causes damage to the kidneys and liver and this one is also a risk for human exposure.

Vaccines at 12 and 16 weeks will complete the series and then a booster in 1 yr

Kennel Cough or Bordatella can be started at 12 weeks and is an oral vaccine. It is a one vaccine series and is boostered every 6-12 months depending on risk factors such as boarding in a kennel or frequently visiting dog parks.

Rabies Vaccine is first given around 16 weeks and is a one shot series that is boostered in 1 year. After the booster in 1 year it will then be done every 3 years. All pets regardless of risk need to be vaccinated for rabies.

Those are the main core vaccines puppies will need. There are others based on risk factors that may be recommended such as canine flu vaccine. Talk to your vet about your pet's lifestyle to make decisions on these.

Flea and tick medication is definitely recommended in this area. While there are mild seasons in California, mostly fleas and ticks can survive all year in this climate. There are excellent monthly or even every 3rd month oral and topical products available that are very safe and effective. Most products are safe for puppies 12 weeks and older.

Heartworm prevention- a vital step to keeping your puppy and dog healthy is to start on a heartworm prevention by the time they are 6 months old. Heartworm larva are spread to pets through mosquitos when feeding on blood. The disease is life threatening and can be complicated to treat so prevention is key. There are oral, topical and now a 12 month injection that can be given to protect your pet. A yearly heartworm test is recommended for all dogs.

Socialization and training- also a vital aspect of puppyhood is training- potty training, socializing to people and safe, well vaccinated pets, starting a puppy class is a great idea to get them used to people and other dogs. Most puppy classes will allow pups that have had at least 2 vaccines in their series.

Your mobile house call vet can help you keep your puppy safe and healthy and on the right track to dogdom!

Stacey Gillis, DVM- mobile veterinary care for pets 🐾

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