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Health Matters

Posted Tuesday, 3 Dec 2013

Affiché : Tuesday, 3 Dec 2013

Jeff Grognet, D.V.M., B.SC.(AGR)

Of all the aspects of puppy care, health concerns are always foremost in the minds of owners. Not surprisingly, they ask their veterinarians endless questions about what to expect and what to do.


Here are the Top 10 questions:

When does my puppy need "shots"?

Most veterinarians give three sets of vaccines to protect puppies against infectious diseases – at eight, 12 and 16 weeks of age. While the first vaccine primes the immune system, the next one boosts protection. Administering a series ensures the immune system responds optimally.

What vaccines does my puppy need?

Distemper and parvovirus are potentially fatal infections to your puppy, so vaccines against these diseases are paramount. The other ‘core' vaccines are hepatitis and rabies. If the disease risk in your area warrants it, your pup may also be vaccinated against bordetella ("kennel cough"), leptospirosis, parainfluenza, coronavirus, Lyme disease or Giardia.

Do I need to protect my pup from heartworm?

Heartworm, a mosquito-borne parasite, is a concern only along the U.S./Canada border. Specifically, it's seen in Ontario, Manitoba and the Okanagan Valley of B.C. Both puppies and adult dogs should be given monthly preventives during the summer, when temperatures are warm and mosquitoes are biting.

When can my puppy play with other dogs?

A puppy is considered completely protected from infectious diseases two weeks after his last vaccinations. At that stage, he can go anywhere and see anyone. Before that time, you need to use common sense. Don't take your puppy to locations with high dog populations. A clean street or quiet trail not frequented by dogs may be okay. Allowing your dog to play with a fully vaccinated, stay-at-home dog is also fairly safe.

Do I need to treat my puppy for worms?

Puppies get worms from their mothers, while growing in the uterus and later, while suckling milk. Worms can't be seen, but they can have negative effects on your pup's health. Puppies should be dewormed at two- to four-week intervals until they are four months old. How can I tell if my pup has fleas? What can I use to get rid of fleas? Puppies are flea magnets. If enough of these insects jump on and suck blood from your pup, he can become anemic. Some flea-control products can be given to pups as young as two weeks, but most can't be used until they are eight weeks old. Your veterinarian can help choose the best product for your puppy.

Is it possible to over-exercise a puppy?

It is, but if you go too far, your puppy will tell you – he will just want to sleep. Your pup's limits will be obvious. Don't push him, and if he wants to rest, let him.

When does my puppy get his new teeth?

Puppies start teething at four months old. The first teeth your pup loses are the tiny incisors at the front. Teething continues until he is about six months old, when his large canine (eye) teeth are replaced. Puppies have painful mouths when they are teething, so make sure your pup has lots of chew toys. You can soothe his gums by giving him an ice cube or a cotton-rope toy (knotted at each end) that has been soaked in water and frozen.

Should I get my puppy "fixed"? When?

Most veterinarians recommend spaying female and neutering male puppies at about six months of age. This catches the females before they come into heat and the males before they develop undesirable male habits. Sterilization isn't just for reducing sexual behaviours – it also reduces the risk of cancer and infections of the reproductive tract.

Should I get health insurance for my puppy?

Unfortunately, too many owners ask about pet insurance only when they are faced with an unexpected veterinary bill. Insurance helps level out the costs of veterinary care and cushions owners against large bills, but it must be bought before it is needed. Get a quote from our pet health insurance affiliate, Pets Plus Us, now.
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