Pawsitive Insights: Your Puppy’s First Veterinary Year

Photo | Pam Schipper Your veterinarian is a great partner for happy puppy raising.

Photo | Pam Schipper
Your veterinarian is a great partner for happy puppy

There’s lots to do when you bring a new puppy into your life. You’ll see your vet a handful of times to manage health and behavior as they grow.

There’s a lot to plan in the few appointments you’ll have in the first year. These appointments are about much more than a few vaccines and require a time investment from you and your vet.

  • Behavior and Personality Assessment – Every puppy is different, and knowing their overall temperament and energy level impacts expectations for socialization and training. A shy, anxious pup needs a very different approach to training than a bold, independent, energetic pup. Your vet will help identify your puppy’s personality type.
  • Training and Socialization Guidance – Socialization of your puppy is critical to their approach to life, and their early experiences make a big impression on their behavior as adults. Getting off on the right foot is critical. Potty and crate training for puppies is very important. You’ll get tips, guidance and trouble-shooting help. Your vet can help with some training and socializing issues but may refer you to a dog trainer for extra help if needed. Since most dogs are relinquished at shelters due to behavioral problems, this time of their life is key to avoiding issues down the road.
  • Nutrition Consultation – It’s a confusing world out there when it comes to choosing the right food. Your vet will provide guidance on the type and amount of food and make sure your pup isn’t too fat or too thin as they grow. The amount and type of food they need changes over the first year as they transition from puppies to adults. For larger breed dogs, proper nutrition and body condition (fat/thin) during growth impacts long term joint health.
  • Parasite Management – Puppies are the most likely to have parasites. There are many types of intestinal parasites as well as mites, fleas, ticks and occasionally lice. Your vet will check for most of these and make sure the others are prevented. All puppies should have a more than one fecal sample check, and most will need deworming treatments at some point. There is no single dewormer that gets everything, so your vet needs to know what is present to treat properly.
  • Preventative Management – Once your pup has been cleared of those pesky parasites, we want to keep them parasite free in the future. There are a variety of options for monthly treatments for heartworm and intestinal parasites as well as a variety of options for preventing fleas and ticks. The best one depends on your puppy’s lifestyle, your preferences and product safety. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to this. Your vet will help set you up for success and guide you to the best choice.
  • Vaccinations – Many people think of puppy visits for “the shots” they need. They are very important, but no less important than all the other things. Administering them at the right time and frequency is critical to preventing potentially fatal diseases. Certain “core” vaccines are necessary for all puppies. Other vaccines are given based on lifestyle and exposure. Boarding, grooming, daycare, outdoor activities and locations all impact vaccination choices. Your vet will guide you through these choices to get the perfect plan to keep your pup safe and healthy.
  • Spay/Neuter Surgery – Sometime between six months and one year your puppy will need a surgery for spaying or neutering. The best time for this depends upon breed/size, behavior, other health conditions and your schedule. Your vet will advise you if any health conditions impact this timing and plan the best time for your puppy to have their surgery.

The goal is to keep your puppy healthy and allow you to develop a strong bond through appropriate socialization, training and behavior management. There’s lots to cover in the handful of veterinary visits that are all key to successfully incorporating this four-legged family member into your life. Your vet is a great partner for happy puppy raising!

Editor’s note: Greta Stamberg, DVM, is owner of Clarksburg Animal Hospital and an Urbana resident.


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