Bringing home a new puppy can be both exciting and daunting. Before you bring your new puppy home, consider the following information to give you and your pup the best chance for success.

If you’re buying from a breeder, understand the breed you’re getting. Spend time researching the breed you’re interested in, and make sure it’s a good fit. Some breeds have very high energy and need constant stimulation throughout the day, like Australian Shepherds. Others are working breeds that require a strong trainer and someone with experience, like German Shepherd Dogs. And others are just typically couch potatoes that want to spend every moment of their day with you. No matter what breed you have your heart set on, consider all aspects to the breed before you bring them home.

ALL puppies require several series of shots. Typically, this starts at 8 weeks and goes until they’re 16 weeks old. DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus) is crucial for a puppy’s health and wellbeing. Here is a breakdown of each of these diseases, so you can understand why it’s important to have your pup vaccinated appropriately, by a licensed veterinarian.

Distemper: a disease that attacks the dogs’ respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous system. Symptoms start mildly enough with watery discharge from the eyes, coughing, lethargy, and vomiting. As the disease attacks the nervous system the dog will start to show signs, including head tilt, twitching, convulsions, and paralysis. There is no cure for distemper, and it is often fatal. Dogs that do survive usually have permanent damage to their nervous system.

Hepatitis: Spread from dog to dog by ingesting the infected dogs fecal material or saliva, hepatitis is a disease that attacks the blood vessels, liver, kidneys, and lungs. The mortality rate is highest in young dogs, which is why it is important to keep up with your vaccinations.

Parainfluenza: Although different from what we consider “kennel cough,” this disease can present itself similarly. Upper respiratory congestion, low grade fever, and coughing are some of the symptoms. This disease is most commonly spread amongst groups of dogs that play, drink from the same bowls, etc.

Parvovirus: One of the most common diseases we see from unvaccinated puppies. Highly contagious and persistent, this illness will present with severe lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea. It can be spread from dog to dog, from the environment, from surfaces the infected dog has been on or around, and from people that have handled infected dogs. It is preventable, and keeping on track with vaccines is the number one way to keep your puppy healthy.

Leptospirosis: Yet another serious illness, Leptospirosis is zoonotic, meaning that it is transferable from pets to people. Leptospirosis affects the liver and kidneys, and is most commonly spread through the urine via infected water sources, and can be spread by wild animals, livestock, rodents, and other dogs.

Rabies is required by law, and given at 16 weeks at RRAH. It may seem as though it’s not a big deal to keep your pet up to date on rabies vaccinations because it is so uncommon to see in the United States. Simply put, the reason why the U.S. has so few cases of Rabies is because vaccinations are required by law. Around the world, Rabies kills 20, 000 people a year. It is transmittable and deadly to humans, affecting the nervous system and behavior, until ultimately inducing seizures and death. It is crucial to stay up to date on this vaccine.

Bordetella is necessary to help protect your puppy from a contagious bacterial infection. When dogs are young, they spend a lot of time around other dogs, learning to socialize. Similarly to human children, upper respiratory infections are commonly spread among young dogs. The Bordetella vaccine, while not preventing every URI, helps prevent these URI from developing into something more serious.

Bring us a fecal sample! Most puppies are carrying around some type of intestinal parasite. Though it is very common, it is still important to identify and treat these parasites. We send your puppy’s stool off to the lab, and can prescribe the proper dewormer medication from the results we receive.

It is important for your puppy’s developing immune system to have their vaccinations at regular intervals. We recommend 3 weeks between each set of vaccinations.

Spaying and neutering your pup can be crucial to both your and your puppy’s happiness. We at Rock Road Animal Hospital recommend spaying or neutering your puppy. Discuss with your vet when it’s right for you and your puppy.

Be prepared financially: puppies are an investment from the moment you get them. Vaccinations, supplies, spay/neuter surgeries. It’s a lot. Keep in mind that puppies also get into things they shouldn’t, chew on things, etc. If you’re able, save for a rainy day because your pup might need it. Pet insurance is also a great option for a new pet owner. There are several reputable insurance companies that now offer pet insurance. It is important to get your pet on insurance before their first visit, so they can be covered for any future event.

Pregnancy and Breeding: what to know.
Breeding should not be taken lightly. It is not recommended to breed your pet based solely on looks, financial gain, or without proper research. Improper breeding leads to overpopulation, neglect, and mistreatment of animals. To breed a dog properly, it takes a wealth of knowledge, funding, and time. The goal of dog breeding is to produce offspring with the most ideal traits of that breed, and to continue a healthy line. It is not recommended to breed a dog without complete knowledge of the dog’s health history and family history. There are a variety of medical costs that can arise during pregnancy and breeding, as well as the additional costs that puppies require until they go to their new homes. Dogs are pregnant for approximately 63 days. Using ultrasound, pregnancy can be detected at 25 days post breeding. Approximate litter size can be determined at 55 days post breeding using abdominal x-rays. Consider this information prior to breeding your dog, and consider spaying or neutering your pet to help reduce overpopulation, overbreeding, and even inbreeding. For more information, please visit our resources page.