Who can resist a puppy... they are cute, adorable and full of boundless energy! However, with a puppy comes a lot of responsibility, particularly if you want him to remain healthy. Just like a child, puppies need vaccinations.
- At approximately 6 - 8 weeks old, your veterinarian will give your puppy a combination vaccination (DHPP) to protect her from four dangerous diseases: canine distemper, infectious hepatitis, parainfluenza, and parvovirus infection.
- 9 to 12 weeks: a second DHPP vaccination and possibly vaccinations against coronavirus infection, leptospirosis, Lyme disease, and kennel cough, depending on his risk for those diseases.
- 13 to 16 weeks old: another DHPP plus a rabies shot.
- 15 to 16 months old: all of them again, then you'll be done with vaccinations for a whole year.
- Annual examination: DHPP shot plus a rabies shot every one to four years.
Heartworm is a parasitic worm that is transmitted via mosquitoes and attacks the heart and lungs of dogs, and in a few rare instances, cats. Although heartworm is more prevalent in hot, humid regions, it has been diagnosed in dogs everywhere but Alaska. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, coughing, weight loss and listlessness, and if left untreated, respiratory failure and even death.
The good news is that heartworm can be easily prevented with an inexpensive chewable pill that is prescribed by your veterinarian. The pills taste good and are manufactured by many different companies. The pills can be given to dogs under 6 months of age without a blood test, but older animals must be screened for the disease prior to starting medication. You can choose to give your dog the pill only during mosquito season (Spring to first frost), but the American Heartworm Association recommends giving your dog the pills year around, since it prevents other parasites as well. In addition to heartworm, you dog may be exposed to other internal parasites including roundworms and hookworms.
Maintaining your dog's physical and oral health is extremely important if you want a happy and healthy dog.