Do you have a new addition to your family?

Getting a new puppy (or even an adult animal) is a big responsibility. Here is a list of things to do to so that your new pet can start a happy and healthy life:

  • Health Check – the first thing your new puppy needs is an exam by your veterinarian. Your vet will recommend testing, vaccination, and other things, as well as identify problems. Checking a new puppy for hernias and other congenital defects as well as infectious diseases, mange, and other problems is important so that problems can be identified and treated early
  • Vaccinations – these should go along with your first health check. Puppies should start vaccines at 7-8 weeks of age and continue vaccinations 3-4 weeks apart until 16 weeks of age. These vaccinations prevent fatal puppy diseases such as parvovirus and distemper, so DON’T PUT THEM OFF!
  • Fecal Testing – almost all puppies are born with worms. Other parasites can also be picked up in the environment. Over the counter dewormers only get a couple of these parasites, which can be fatal in young animals.
  • Deworming – deworming should begin at two weeks of age, then continue every two weeks until your veterinarian begins your pet on a monthly heartworm preventative. Some of these worms can be fatal to young animals, as well as transmissible to people.
  • Flea & Tick Control – here in Texas, external parasites are a big deal! Fleas and ticks are prevalent, and can show up even in indoor animals. Fleas infestations often spike at the beginning and end of summer, so the best thing to do to avoid an infestation is keep your pet on a year round control program. The safest and most effective flea control products are prescription products that you get from your veterinarian. Talk to your vet about the best type of flea control for your pet.
  • Nutrition – good nutrition is important in puppies just like in children. Starting them off right sets the stage for a long healthy life. Small puppies should be fed small frequent meals, as often as 4 times a day. All puppies should be fed a high quality puppy food for at least the first six months of their life.
  • Heartworm Preventative – your veterinarian can recommend a good time to begin monthly heartworm preventative (probably before 4 months of age).  You will usually only get 1 or 2 pills at a time as your puppy grows since the pills are administered by weight. As your puppy reaches a stable adult weight, you can get a larger supply of heartworm preventative. These pills should be given every month year round to prevent heartworm, an expensive and potentially fatal disease.
  • Spay / Neuter – spaying and neutering not only prevents pet overpopulation, but also gives your dog a longer, healthier life by preventing many cancers and infections. We recommend spaying or neutering at 6 months of age (we may recommend delaying this in some large breed dogs). A spayed or neutered pet lives a longer, happier life.
  • Housetraining – this is a critical part of making your pet a part of your life and a member of the household. Crate training is one of the most effective and safest way to housetrain your new dog.
  • Puppy Classes / Socialization – 6-16 weeks is a critical socialization period for puppies. During this time they learn appropriate ways to interact with other dogs and with people. We recommend visits with properly vaccinated dogs and puppy socialization classes during this period. Dog trainers at puppy classes can also give you tips on curbing unacceptable behaviors (chewing, biting, digging).
  • Identification – permanent identification is a way to safeguard your pet if they ever get loose. A microchip is a small chip implanted under the skin. It is placed just like a vaccination, although the needle is bigger. It holds a number, so that if your pet shows up at a shelter, they can scan it, call the company, and get your information from the microchip company. You should update your information each time you move or your contact information changes.
  • Pet Insurance – no matter how healthy your pet is now, injuries or illnesses can bring about unexpected costs. Pet insurance is a great option to ensure you can do everything possible to keep your pet healthy. There are many different types of pet insurance, so research to see what works best for you and your pet. The best time to start insurance is when they are young.

This is a brief description of some of the important things you need to think about with your new pet. To get more information on each of these topics, ask your veterinarian, or your veterinary clinic staff. They will be glad to help you out. Finally – If you have any problems – see your veterinarian right away. Watch your pet closely for signs of sickness and address it early!