Vaccines are very important in protecting puppies from some serious diseases. Puppies should start their vaccines between six and eight weeks of age. If your puppy is older than this when you get it, you should start right away or three weeks from the last series given by the previous owner. The kind and number of vaccines your puppy should receive depends on how old it is when we first see it.. Puppies need multiple vaccines. This is not because “more is better” but because a puppy gets special antibodies from its mother’s first milk to protect it from the diseases that mom is protected against. This maternal protection decreases as the puppy gets older, allowing our vaccines to give full protection. The time at which this maternal protection wears off is different for each disease and puppy. As there is no reliable way to test when a puppy has achieved full immunity, we need to give vaccines throughout this period.
We will evaluate your puppy’s age and previous vaccines and advise you what will be best for your puppy.
The most common internal parasites we see in
Tapeworms are uncommonly seen in
Coccidia and Giardia are two non-worm parasites that can infect animals. They can be a cause of diarrhea. They are microscopic and can only be found with fecal tests.
If you ever see something strange in your animals poop (worm or otherwise), please don’t throw it away. Place it in a plastic bag and bring it in for a diagnosis.
Generally after the deworming we will recommend one microscopic stool check to see if eggs are left.
For the most part the old saying “you get what you pay for” applies to dog food. We realize that everyone has a different cost comfort level. In general we recommend you feed the best you can afford. Top line brands include Science Diet®, Iams®, and Nutro® among others. Generic brands rarely even meet the minimum national guidelines and should not be fed as the quality of the ingredients is generally poor.
Puppies up to 14-16 weeks should be fed 3-4 times daily. A guideline is what the puppy will eat in 10-15 minutes. Most puppies will walk away and any food left over should be picked up. Large breed puppies should be fed one of the newer “large breed” puppy foods. Most puppies should be switched to adult food around 6 months of age. Very large breed puppies should stay on large breed puppy food until about 9 months Studies have shown overweight large breed puppies or puppies that grow too rapidly have a higher incidence of hip and elbow dysplasia.
As adults we recommend that all dogs be fed at least twice a day. Think how your stomach would churn if you had to consume all your food for the day in one meal.
Some dogs do not assimilate all the vitamins and minerals available to them in their dog food and, as a result, may be receiving a slightly less than optimal plane of nutrition. For that reason we recommend a balanced vitamin supplement such as “Pettabs” or “Platinum Performance” to fill in any cracks but not to over supplement.
Fleas, Heartworm and Ticks
Although external parasites are extremely rare here in Tahoe, many of us travel with our dogs to other areas where problems associated with these pests is much more common.
A frequent problem when you visit warmer climates and lower elevations with your pet is that they bring back fleas and flea allergies. Fleas can live in Tahoe and in fact will stay on the dog longer since the surrounding environment is not as friendly as where they came from. There have been several recent breakthroughs in flea control. A product called Vectra 3D® is put on the skin between the skins between the shoulders and will keep fleas and ticks (see Lymes disease) off for 30 days. It continues to work even after repeated bathing and swimming. This is great news for those who have problems keeping fleas off their animals when visiting out of town. It works on cats too.
Lymes disease is transmitted by ticks. This disease is still somewhat sporadic
in its presence in
Heartworm disease is one of the
fastest growing problems in
Sometimes dogs are lost. All dogs should have an ID tag with current name, address, phone number and when 4 months old a rabies tag and county license tag can be issued and placed on their collar. Unfortunately when a dog is separated from its owner the collar is often separated from the dog. When the dog is found it cannot be identified to be returned home. Microchips that have a unique number coded in them can now be placed just under the skin. This procedure does not require any sedation or anesthetic and is no more painful than routine vaccinations. Animal shelters and many veterinary hospitals have scanners that can read these chips. Once a chip number is found the shelter can reunite the pet with its owner. Microchips are also being placed in cats, ferrets, birds, horses, and livestock
The most frequent early training issue is house breaking. If you want your dog to go outside to go to the bathroom, the method we recommend is the crate or airline kennel method. We do not suggest you train your puppy to go on paper or plastic in the house. Most healthy puppies 8 weeks and older can hold their urine and stool for 6-8 hours in the proper environment. If placed in a crate (which would be like a den in the wild) they will by instinct try not to pee or poop where they have to sleep. It is difficult, but you must ignore the crying that some puppies may do the first few times they are in the crate. If you reinforce the crying by going to them and speaking to them they will cry longer and longer. You must take the puppy outside to go to the bathroom just before and just after crate use as well as several other times during the day. You should stay outside with your puppy and be sure it goes so you can reinforce this behavior positively with praise and rewards. When you are inside with your puppy, restrict its environment and watch it closely. Soon it will begin to give you signals that it needs to go outside. If your puppy wanders off and pees or poops out of your sight discipline yourself, not the puppy. Disciplining a puppy even 2 seconds after the act is complete is not effective. The puppy thinks you are upset with whatever it is doing at the time of the discipline. Think about it, you are scolding the puppy for peeing in the house, but the puppy may think you are upset because it just came to you. Of course there are many variations on the crate training theme and you should fine tune it to fit your situation. Another advantage of crate training is that the crate becomes the dog’s den, a safe place to retreat and a portable hotel room for traveling.
You should begin teaching your puppy commands as soon as you acquire it. Most puppies will learn to sit or shake hands in as little as 48 hours if given the opportunity. Consistency and repetition are the keys to training, so everyone training the puppy should agree on the same hand and voice signals. Food rewards are generally not needed when starting young. Remember that puppies have very short attention spans and early training sessions should only last a few minutes (TV commercials are great). Keep the sessions short but do them several times a day and the results may surprise you. Once your pup has finished the full vaccine series, enroll in a dog school or class, it is great fun for you and your puppy. It allows him to learn to be well behaved even with other dogs around and lots of commotion. Class and training not only makes your dog more fun to be with, but also strengthens the bond between you.