First in The List: A Vet Exam

New puppy parents often comment that taking care of  a young pup is like taking care of a new baby — it cries a lot, eats a lot, wakes up ten times a night (mostly to cry and eat), and wants its owner’s constant attention. Give it a few weeks, however, and this will change. You’ll spend more time playing with your pet than nursing it — as long as a few important health guidelines are followed in the beginning. It all begins with bringing your new pet home at the ideal time. Puppies need to remain with their mothers until approximately 6-8 weeks of age. During this time they receive critical antibodies (first 72 hours) necessary nutrition (through 4 weeks) and socialization skills (through 6 weeks) to help them prepare to meet the world.

Once their new human family takes them home, the first item on the agenda should be a visit to the vet for vaccinations and an overall well-puppy exam. In addition to fecal examination for parasites, the exam will include checking your pup’s mouth, teeth and gums for abnormalities, making sure its ears, eyes, nose and skin are free of infection, verifying healthy weight and temperature (a puppy’s temp should be between 100.5° and 102.5° F), and examining lungs and other internal organs. This first exam is also an opportunity for your puppy to receive its first round of vaccinations, which will help protect it from distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis, and parainfluenza. Some veterinarians will also inoculate against leptospirosis, bordatella and corona. The vaccinations are generally administered at 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age, and will be followed by boosters at regular intervals, depending on your veterinarians’ preference.

Be sure to schedule an appointment for your pet to be spayed or neutered around six months of age and annual veterinary check-ups thereafter.

Of course, you are the first defense. If your puppy shows signs of weakness, collapse, shaking, seizures, vomiting, listlessness, bloody stool, refuses to eat, or other alarming or unusual symptoms or behavior, get him to your veterinarian without delay.

First in The List: A Vet Exam
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