At South Mesa Veterinary Hospital, we place great emphasis on spending time educating our clients about all aspects of puppy care, and we recommend scheduling an appointment for your new puppy as soon as possible after he/she arrives in your home. We allow for a longer appointment time at this first visit to discuss a variety of topics, including basic health requirements and vaccine schedules, dietary needs and feeding schedules, potty training, and general socialization and puppy training.
All puppy training should begin immediately as the most critical socialization period is between 8-16 weeks of age. Failure to expose a puppy to proper socialization at this early age is often the cause of lifelong behavioral problems.
Medical recommendations for puppies:
Puppies may become exposed to intestinal parasites while nursing, and for this reason we recommend a prophylactic deworming medication given every two weeks beginning at two weeks of age until 16 weeks of age. We perform laboratory fecal tests at 12 weeks of age to ensure puppies are negative for any parasites that may pose a risk to humans, especially children or immunocompromised people. Read more about intestinal parasites.
Vaccinations are generally given between six and eight weeks of age with booster vaccines given every 3-4 weeks until four months of age. Although most puppies acquire immunity during the first few weeks of nursing, these antibody levels gradually decline over time leaving the puppy susceptible to a variety of viruses, many of which can be fatal in unprotected dogs. The vaccine schedule should be followed to ensure that puppies are adequately protected during the first year of life.
We recommend starting puppies on Interceptor, a monthly heartworm disease preventative, at an early age. This medication is also effective against the most common intestinal parasites, roundworms and hookworms. It is a chewable tablet and very easy to administer.