Your Puppy’s First Year of Wellness

Congratulations on your new puppy! Getting your pet off to the right start includes several initial visits with our veterinarians to ensure they are healthy and developing normally and to get them vaccinated against several diseases.

The following schedule is meant to give you a general idea of the visits and vaccines that your puppy will need. Keep in mind that the actual schedule may vary slightly depending on veterinarian recommendations.

8 Week Visit:

  • Physical exam
  • Fecal examination
  • Record body weight
  • Microchip check
  • Discuss nutrition, training, and puppy care
  • Discuss flea and tick prevention
  • First Distemper vaccine
  • Bordetella (kennel cough) vaccine if your puppy will interact with other dogs

12 Week Visit:

  • Medical progress exam
  • Record body weight
  • Discuss development, nutrition, puppy care, and house training
  • Rabies vaccine
  • Second Distemper vaccine
  • Lyme and/or Leptospirosis vaccine

16 Week Visit:

  • Brief physical exam
  • Record body weight
  • Third Distemper vaccine
  • Second Lyme and/or Leptospirosis vaccine

Our policy is that all vaccinations be given by the veterinarian so that they can also assess physical health and development.

We will work with you to determine the best timing for spaying or neutering your puppy. In general, we recommend spaying your female puppy before their first heat cycle, and neutering your male puppy between 6-18 months of age, depending on breed, behavior, and lifestyle. Talk to your veterinarian for further recommendations on the best time to spay and neuter.

We also recommend screening for heartworm and tick-borne diseases at 6 months old.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my puppy have to come back for so many visits?

In order to ensure that your puppy is properly vaccinated, we recommend giving booster vaccinations 3-4 weeks apart. Puppies have immunity from their mothers that lasts until they are at least 8-12 weeks old, and sometimes lasts even longer. Re-vaccinating several weeks apart helps to ensure that your puppy will have the proper immunity once they lose their maternal antibodies.

Why does my puppy need a physical exam on each visit?

It is important for our veterinarians to examine your puppy on a regular basis to ensure that they are growing and developing normally. It is also important to make sure that your puppy is otherwise healthy before administering vaccines.

Are vaccinations safe?

Yes. The majority of pets respond very well to their vaccinations. However there are mild reactions that occur in a small number of pets. These reactions may include:

  • Mild fever
  • Decreased appetite and activity
  • Swelling or discomfort at the local site of vaccination

More serious, but less common side effects, such as allergic reactions, may occur within minutes to hours after vaccination. These reactions are medical emergencies:

  • Hives
  • Swelling of the face, ears, or eyes
  • Severe coughing or difficulty breathing
  • Collapse/white gums
  • Sudden persistent vomiting

Why do I need to bring in a stool sample?

Testing your pet’s stool sample allows us to check for several common internal parasites and help prevent disease. Many parasites can be passed from the mother to her puppies, so testing and treating puppies is an essential part of their early health care. We recommend checking a stool sample annually as your dog ages, since many parasites are also picked up from the environment.

Why do I have to wait until my puppy is 6 months old for a heartworm test?

It takes approximately 5-7 months after a dog is bitten by an infected mosquito before a blood test can accurately detect the presence of heartworm. Testing your puppy sooner than this can give a falsely negative result. We recommend testing your dog yearly as they age to check for heartworm disease and also recommend keeping them on a preventative year-round. The test that we use to check for heartworm also checks for 3 common tick-borne diseases, Lyme, Ehrlichia, and Anaplasma, all of which are common in this part of the country.