New Puppy Care

Congratulations on your new puppy! Your initial visit with your new puppy is important. Since a lot of information will be covered, you may wish to review these notes.

Download New Puppy Handout

1. Vaccinations

(Distemper, Hepatitis or Adeno2 virus, Para influenza and Parvo-virus). This vaccine is given in a series and is one of the most important things you will ever do to protect your dog’s health. The first DA2PP is given at 6-9 weeks of age, and is then repeated every 3-4 weeks until the puppy is 16 weeks old.
Leptospirosis is a bacteria spread by wildlife and ingested by dogs drinking out of puddles. It can be contracted by people so it is a human health concern. It is given in a series of two injections 2-4 weeks apart followed by a yearly booster.
This vaccination is first given at or after 12 weeks of age. The next booster is given in one year.
This vaccination is given to prevent contagious tracheobronchitis or “kennel cough.”

Remember to keep your puppy out of public parks, boarding kennels, dog daycares and places with large numbers of dogs until this initial series of vaccines is completed.

2. Diet

We recommend using products produced by major manufactures with “AAFCO” printed on the label – avoid generic pet foods. Examples of premium pet foods we would recommend are Iams, Science Diet, Sensible choice and Purina One and Purina Pro Plan. There is no “best food for all dogs, and there are many good quality dog foods. What is important is how well your dog does on whatever food you select. If you puppy comes from a breeder we recommend staying with whatever food the breeder has recommended, at least for the first few months. Often the breeder has already experimented with a number of brands, and it is nice to have continuity with a new puppy.  Both canned and dry formulations are acceptable.

A recent 14 year study by Purina in Labrador Retrievers suggests that body conformation has a profound effect on both the length of the dog’s life and the development of arthritis. The thin dogs (ideal body conformation) in this study lived an average of two years larger and had 75% less arthritis. Therefore, it is probably more important how much you feed than what brand of food you choose. Exercise is important, but the most important factor in weight control in dogs and cats is the quantity fed.

2. Chew toys

Avoid chew toys that are very hard or that are less than 3 inches in diameter. The rule of thumb is that a chew toy should be soft enough to bend or be able to indent with your thumbnail.

Rubber chew toys are ideal. We do not recommend real bones as they have the potential to fracture teeth, as do nylabones and even fresh rawhide bones. Avoid fabric toys that can be chewed up and swallowed.

Puppies like to chew on almost anything! Be very careful of what your puppy is allowed to chew and swallow as intestinal foreign bodies requiring surgical removal are most common in dogs under one year of age.

3. Training

Housetraining: The basic concept is to not allow your puppy the opportunity to make mistakes. Your puppy needs to be taken outdoors to the designated area frequently and shortly after each meal. Praise your puppy lavishly after performing. Punishment for making mistakes is not usually helpful. If you catch your puppy in the act of voiding in the wrong place say “NO!” or “YUK!” then take the puppy outdoors.

Potty pads” may be a good alternative for toy dogs with condominium lifestyles. These are available at pet supply stores.

Obedience training/ puppy kindergarten: Kindergarten puppy classes are best begun as early as 8-10 weeks of age. Susan Oshie offers many classes at her training studio “Paws for Training” in Wallingford.

Den (crate) Training: We wholeheartedly encourage this practice as it is useful in so many situations.

4. Ovariohysterectomy & Castration (spay & neuter)

We recommend that large breed dogs not intended for breeding be spayed and neutered at approximately a year of age. There is evidence that waiting until skeletal maturity may reduce the incidence of certain orthopedic diseases and malignancies. Small breed dogs are prone to retention of primary teeth, so we recommend spaying at six months of age which allows us to identify and extract retained primary teeth without scheduling a second anesthesia.

5. Internal parasites

We routinely administer worming medication at each puppy visit because puppies are frequently born with ascarids (roundworms) and several treatments may be necessary to eliminate them. It is a good idea to have a fecal exam done routinely at the first or second visit, and yearly thereafter.

6. External Parasites (flea control)

Two excellent flea control products are prescription Revolution and Bravecto. Revolution is a topical & in addition to monthly flea control it also is a heartworm preventive and effective against ear mites and Sarcoptic Mange. Bravecto is a flavored tablet given as a treat once every three months. It is an excellent product for flea and tick control and is so convent to only have to administer every three months. Both Revolution and Bravest are prescription products with proven track records. Frequent bathing does not reduce the efficacy of either of these products.

7. Bathing

If you plan to bathe frequently (more than every 2-3 weeks) we recommend a hypoallergenic shampoo such as Allergroom or VET Solutions Aloe & Oatmeal Shampoo.

8. Dental Care

Appropriate dental care may be the most important thing that you can do to improve the quality and longevity of your dog’s life.

Our first area of concern is that your puppy’s permanent teeth erupt in a proper fashion. All of your puppy’s permanent teeth should be present by six months of age. If primary (baby) teeth are still present (retained), they will need to be extracted or they will cause bite and periodontal disease problems.

For long term dental health, a combination of home care (brushing) and periodic professional cleanings is recommended. Now is the time to gradually train your puppy to allow you to handle his/her mouth. Since your puppy is still teething, simple handling of the mouth is all that is recommended until six months of age. Brushing the teeth should begin after six months of age and should be done daily. Remember that only the outside surfaces of the teeth need to be brushed and that pet toothpaste (dentifrice) is optional. Soft bristled brushes, finger-brushes, gauze or a dedicated wet washcloth around one’s finger are all acceptable. Try to make it a fun and positive experience with plenty of praise and treats. Dental diets are also available. Please feel free to ask about these diets.

9. Heartworm

If you plan on traveling with your puppy, check with us to see if heartworm testing and preventative medication is indicated for state(s) to which you will be traveling. In addition, if your puppy has just arrived from a heartworm endemic area, additional preventative treatments may be indicated. If your dog is on Revolution monthly then heartworm prevention is already being achieved.

10. Identification

We recommend some kind of identification for all pets.  Home Again microchip permanent identification is available here. This is given by a simple injection during an office visit. (See microchipping.) Learn more at

11. Emergencies

For after hours emergencies contact either (1) ACCES in Lake City at 206-364-1660 or (2) AMCS in Shoreline at 206-204-3366 or (3) SVS Downtown at 206-624-9111. These are all 24-hour emergency/critical care/referral centers that provide excellent care.

It is our goal to provide you with the highest quality services and information so you can have the best possible relationship with your dog. Please call us if we can help you in any way!