by Tracy Warncke
You've waited and waited and the time to bring your new puppy home is rapidly
approaching. CALL YOUR VETERINARIAN, don't wait until you pick your puppy up!
Your veterinarian is your first line of defense for your puppys good health. If your
vet knows you are getting a puppy they can offer invaluable pre-puppy advice such as how
to puppy proof your home, flea and tick control, various forms of heartworm preventative
and vaccination and worming schedules. He will also tell you what information you need to
get from your breeder, in addition to the vaccination and worming medication already
given, to help keep your puppy on the track to good health.
Since many breeders give you a time limit to take your puppy to the vet for that first
exam, read your contract carefully and make sure you schedule your first appointment
accordingly. Give your pup a day or so to settle in then take him in for the all important
first exam. Make sure you take all your puppys papers with you so your vet can record all
vaccinations and wormings already given. After a thorough exam (eyes, ears, teeth, coat,
weight, heart, gastrointestinal to name a few!) your vet will let you know when and what
the next appoint will entail. A puppy usually sees the doctor 3-4 times from the time you
take him home until age 6 months. This ensures that he is growing properly (appropriate
weight), is parasite free (no intestinal worms) and is up-to-date on his inoculations.
To make this experience enjoyable for your pup, take lots of tiny little treats. Give
them to all members of the veterinary team to give to the pup. Let them make a big deal
over him and tell him what a good pup he is (who can resist a 9-10 week old Newfoundland
pup!). Ask them if you can stop by from time to time for a quick visit so your pup will
begin to love going to the doctor! In between doctor's visits, keep a list of questions
you would like to ask with your pups health records. This way, you wont get home and say
"I forgot to ask...."
Try to keep your pup away from other dogs for a few weeks. Your pup's immunities are
still developing and you don't know what ailment another dog might have. Proper
socialization need not be interrupted if you are careful about where you go and what dogs
you meet. Most puppy kindergarten classes require that you bring your puppy's shot record
with you so that they are assured your puppy is getting his shots and that the spread of
disease is minimized. In other words, don't take your 2 month old puppy to a dog show!
Once your pup has received his permanent shots (usually around 6 months of age), your
vet will want to see him at least once a year. This yearly exam is essential. All booster
shots will be given along with a thorough exam. Don't think that you can wait a month or
two past the due date to get that parvo, rabies or distemper booster. These diseases still
appear and are life-threatening! Here in the northeast rabies is on the rise and we still
have outbreaks of parvo. Yearly examinations also detect any changes that may need
treatment as your dog gets older.
Don't be afraid to call you vet should you feel something isn't right. That's what he's
there for! When you do call, don't simply say "Puppy doesn't feel good." The
more specific you are the more it will help your vet diagnose the problem. If your pup has
gotten into something he shouldn't (he dragged the old turkey carcass out of the trash or
he drank out of the bucket that had some old motor oil in it) call the vet immediately.
Many substance are harmful to animals and immediate treatment is necessary.
Remember the old adages - An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Better
safe than sorry! They certainly do apply to appointments for yearly checkups.
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