Your New Puppy – First Visit
Congratulations on the arrival of your new puppy. It is our hope that we may help you have many years of companionship and fun with your pet. At this age it is the time to address many of the preventive care measures that will help promote a long, healthy life for your new friend.
Puppies differ from adult dogs by requiring a series of vaccinations to insure protection against the most common diseases of dogs. This is necessary for several reasons but the most important is the passive immunity that puppies acquire from their mothers. Early in their life puppies receive antibodies directly from their mother that helps protect them during the critical first weeks of life. The level of antibody will fall gradually as the puppy grows and develops and may be different for each puppy in the litter. It must decline below a certain level before the puppy can respond to vaccines and develop his own specific immune response. We try to encourage the early development of this response. The series of vaccinations is designed to give immunity at the earliest age following the loss of passive immunity from the animal's mother. It is for this reason it is very important to complete the series of boosters and for the boosters to come at the right time. If for any reason your personal schedule prevents you from bringing your puppy in at the proper intervals, please contact our office and explain your situation so that we may advise you on what the best solution may be.
One of the most rapidly developing areas of knowledge in pet preventive health care is the subject of proper nutrition. In recent years, it is rare to see nutritional deficiencies in pets that are fed modern dog foods, but of increasing concern to veterinarians is the subject of excesses in the diet. While deficiencies present themselves early in the pet's life in the form of growth or developmental problems, excesses may be present for years before they manifest themselves in health problems. We recommend the Science Diet line of foods due to the manufacturers commitment to research and development of a food that has nutrient precision (a diet that has neither deficiencies nor excesses) and is appropriate for each stage of the pet's life.
The current research suggests that an excess of daily calories may also shorten the pet's life and cause development of disease at an earlier age. Diabetes is highly preventable and other diseases that may not be prevented can be delayed until later in life. It is important to remember that even when feeding a high quality diet, that the benefits may be offset by overfeeding or supplementation with table food or treats. We no longer consider an animal whose ribs are showing to be below optimum body condition if muscle mass is adequate and the quality of the skin and hair coat is good.
When worms are discussed in conjunction with preventative health care in dogs, most people think of intestinal parasites. Heartworms are different parasites that slowly grow within the right chambers of the heart and the blood vessels of the lungs. Heartworms are deadly and are more commonly diagnosed than in years past. Heartworm disease spreads when mosquitoes bite a dog that has been previously infected, siphon up the microscopic heartworm offspring, then bite another animal. Heartworms are particularly dangerous because often animals do not show evidence of the disease until they have been present for months. Heartworm preventatives work by stopping the microscopic larva soon after being injected from the mosquito bite before they have arrived in the heart or began to do damage. As these larvae mature they become progressively more difficult to kill, this is why heartworm preventatives must be used regularly (once monthly) to effectively prevent the disease. Adult animals require an annual blood test to determine if they are infected, if negative they may safely take the preventative medication. Heartworm prevention should begin before 4 months of age so that we may be assured that the puppy is negative at the time the medication is started.
Flea prevention is very important for many reasons. Fleas can make an animal anemic, act as a carrier for tapeworms, and are a contributing factor in many skin diseases (including allergy to flea bites). Fleas can be a particularly bothersome parasite because of their ability to reproduce so quickly. One adult female flea can produce up to fifty eggs each day. Because fleas can be present for many days before they are noticed, modern flea control is aimed at controlling reproduction of the flea as well as killing the adult fleas. This is truly a case where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Once fleas become established in your pet's environment it can take weeks to eliminate them.
Heartworm and Flea Preventatives
Two heartworm/flea preventative medications are recommended based upon your particular circumstances:
Ticks need to be prevented as well
Revolution - This medication is applied topically at the base of the neck once monthly and is absorbed to provide protection against heartworm disease, adult fleas and flea eggs, ear mites, the sarcoptic mange mite and provides some control of ticks. When external parasites are of primary concern this medication is the product of choice.
Intestinal worms need to be prevented as well
Sentinel – This medication is given by mouth in conjunction with a meal. It provides protection against heartworm disease, prevents flea eggs from hatching, and treats and controls roundworms, hookworms and whipworms. When intestinal parasites are of primary concern this medication is the product of choice. When adult fleas are present, Capstar is used in conjunction with Sentinel to more rapidly achieve control. It is provided free of charge to those pets that have adult fleas when Sentinel is purchased. If you have seen adult fleas on your puppy please share this with us and Capstar will be provided with your Sentinel purchase.
Body Handling Training
All dog owners should teach their dogs to enjoy and allow handling of their body. When puppies are young, they can be taught to allow all parts of their body to be examined. You can reward the puppy with food rewards for allowing handling. Handle the puppy, give a treat. Look in the puppy's mouth, give a treat. Pick up the puppy's feet, give a treat. Soon the puppy will realize that when you approach the puppy you bring good things and will learn to trust you and not be afraid to have different areas of the body examined or handled. Early handling can make later medical treatments, dental care, ear cleaning and nail trims easier. For breeds that have hair coats that will require grooming, it is also recommended that the puppy begin being groomed by 12 weeks of age. This is so that they may become used to the body handling that will be necessary to keep the coat at it's best.