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What to do next when you get a new puppy?

So you've just brought home a brand new puppy or kitten. First off, congratulations on your new, likely furry, little bundle of joy! The next few months will be a bit of a whirlwind, but I promise, it will get better!

There are soo many things to check of the list of your new found puppyhood or kitten hood, but being a veterinarian, I'm going to focus on the health and preventative care side. My hope is that you already have a veterinarian or have done a little research and found one that you'd like to meet. If not, that is okay. This is where you start asking around, check local city sites for recommendations, 'locals love us' type sites and of course family, friends and coworkers.

Disclaimer: It is okay if you don't like the first vet/vet clinic you go to. Take a step back, take note of what you didn't like, then talk to family, and friends and try a new one. You will want to develop trust and a good relationship with your vet, after all, you will be caring for this new fur baby together.

Okay, back to the health and preventative care side of things. At your first veterinary visit, your puppy will have a full medical examination to ensure that there are no obvious health concerns. An intestinal parasite exam will be recommended, possible vaccinations depending on age and a discussion about heartworm, flea and tick preventatives, depending on where you live in the country.

Always, always, always ask questions if you aren't sure what is being recommended. It does not offend me and some of us really like to teach and educate our pet parents. So now to get into the nitty gritty...

What is an intestinal parasite exam?

This is a test that is done on a stool sample from your puppy to look for signs of intestinal parasites, which can be harmful to their health. Intestinal worms generally shed eggs in the stool that can be identified under a microscope, where as other parasites may shed cysts (giardia) or single celled organisms (coccidia) that can be found. If something is found in your puppies sample, your vet will recommend an appropriate dewormer or medication to help eliminate them and ensure your puppy stays healthy.

What if I am hesitant to get my pet vaccinated?

Fair question, especially with so much misinformation out there. My goal of writing this is to provide you with information and not my opinion. The best site to reference is the American Animal Hospital Association, which has gone above and beyond in regards to all things animal health. The following is a quote taken from their website, regarding core and noncore vaccinations for pets.

The AAHA Canine Vaccination Task Force has separated vaccines into two categories, core and noncore. Core vaccines are those defined by the Task Force as vaccines recommended for all dogs irrespective of lifestyle, unless there is a specific medical reason not to vaccinate. Examples of core vaccines include canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus type 2, canine parvovirus type 2, and rabies. Noncore vaccines are those recommended for some dogs based on lifestyle, geographic location, and risk of exposure. Canine leptospirosis vaccine, canine Bordetella vaccine, canine Lyme vaccine, canine influenza vaccine, and the Western diamondback rattlesnake toxoid are considered noncore.

What vaccinations might my vet recommend?

As stated above, the core vaccinations include canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus type 2, canine parvovirus type 2, and rabies. The number of boosters your puppy receives is solely dependent on their current age and if they have already had any vaccinations. Your puppy will likely need more then a single round of vaccines, so be sure to talk to your vet about when to come back for boosters.

Now for the noncore vaccinations, canine leptospirosis vaccine, canine Bordetella vaccine, canine Lyme vaccine, canine influenza vaccine, and the Western diamondback rattlesnake toxoid, which will be recommended based on lifestyle and risk of exposure. In my part of Texas, I give all of those vaccinations to individual patients regularly. The most common that I give include the canine Leptospirosis and canine Bordetella vaccines. These vaccines will very much depend on where you live and is very important to bring up with your vet. Some of the above noncore vaccines can prevent your puppy from developing major life threatening illnesses, so I urge you, please listen to your vet if they recommend one or multiple of these vaccines.

My pet will be indoors except for going to the bathroom, so I don't need any heartworm or flea prevention.

Again, I am speaking as a Texas veterinarian and on behalf of most of the Southern US. This is a big fat LIE and I promise you, your mostly 'indoor' puppy will be exposed and at risk!!

Heartworms are spread via mosquito bites, so if you have ever seen a mosquito, inside or outside, your puppy is at risk. Heartworm prevention protects against the development of adult heartworms, heart damage and sometimes heart failure. Heartworm prevention comes in a chew or tablet form, topical form and now a long acting injectable form. The injectable form is not recommended until a puppy reaches a mature weight, but the oral and topical forms are readily available from your vet.

Now the same goes for flea and ticks. It sounds gross, but we could even carry them inside to our pet. I have seen puppies with fleas become anemic (low red blood cells) and or develop skin infections from scratching and biting at the fleas. Ticks on the other hand can actually transmit severe illnesses that can sometimes be debilitating for a pet.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, why risk illness and diseases that can be prevented!!

Okay y'all, the plan was basics and I may have gotten carried away. Promise we'll talk puppy again soon. But I'll list a few additional things to talk with your vet about below.

Until then, keep enjoying those fur babies!



• Diet/Food Recommendations

• Crate Training Tips

• Potty Training Troubleshooting

• Safe Toys

• Dental Hygiene

• Puppy/Beginner Training Classes

*picture shared with owner consent*

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