We got a puppy for Christmas! Now what do we do?

First of all, congratulations and don’t panic! Puppies are smart, energetic bundles of joy, but it is also important to remember that they are babies. Babies with very efficient immune systems (i.e. they poop a lot!) and very little experience in the world so far. A puppy is a 12-15 year commitment to care for another living, breathing, feeling being. The more effort you put into raising your new puppy and keeping it healthy, the better off you both will be! With that in mind, you should start by bringing your new puppy in for an exam and general health check with your regular veterinarian (hopefully, that’s us!). Not only will an exam help start you and your puppy off on the right paw health-wise, but it helps us at WVH to establish a caring bond early on in their lives as well! Being able to give your puppy a positive experience during their early visits to the vet will make it so much easier to bring them in when they are adults! We at Woodland Vet LOVE seeing dogs that love to come in to see us 🙂

During their exam, your vet will also be able to discuss your puppy’s immunization schedule with you. Just like human babies, puppies require a series of vaccines to make sure they are fully protected from some serious illnesses that are still quite prevalent in the environment today, including distemper, hepatitis, and parvovirus. Since puppies are still under the protection of their mother’s antibodies until 7-8 weeks of age, this is when our doctors recommend starting their vaccine series. Remember, your puppy is not fully protected until he has finished his entire vaccine series, so make sure to carry him anywhere that isn’t home! Parvovirus can live in an environment for years, so a good rule of thumb is that until the vaccines are complete, do not take your puppy anywhere where you are not 100% certain that you know what was there before you.

We also recommend bringing in a stool sample to be tested, as intestinal parasites are extremely common in puppies. They can become infected with them before they are born, or through their mother’s milk. A fecal flotation also checks for parasites that may not be visible to the naked eye. Remember, just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they’re not there, or that they can’t be transmitted to you and your family! A fecal test only takes a day to get results, and our doctors will be able to administer a dewormer in the meantime as well.

One of the other most crucial things you can do is get your puppy started on basic training! At such a young age, their minds are basically a blank canvas. Look for puppy classes that offer positive reinforcement training (such as the ones we offer here at Woodland Vet) in a controlled, indoor environment. You should also make sure that the training class requires that each puppy be up to date on vaccines in order to participate. It is safe for young puppies who have not completed their vaccine series to play and learn together as long as their environment is safe (we use an indoor training room that is bleached daily) and their companions are healthy and vaccinated.

Now take a deep breath (inhale that new puppy scent – it’s amazing!) and relax! Enjoy your new furry family member! Give us a call at 530-666-2461 to set up your new puppy’s first exam or to enroll them in training classes, and let Woodland Vet help get you and your new companion started in 2017 on a paw-sitive note!