Puppy (Vets & Vaccinations)

New Puppy – Vets, vaccinations and vexations!

Helping you and your new puppy to get off to a happy, healthy start. This is a basic guide and includes reflections on our experiences with Lio as a pup. I include information about vet registration, vaccinations, minimising stress for dogs, and avoiding the dreaded flea.

Choosing your Veterinary Practice

I have written about Scott Veterinary Clinic in Bedford in a previous blog post. We have also had excellent experiences with Acorn Vet locally. As with most dog owners, word of mouth recommendations were key to our choices. Obviously proximity is important too. We were lucky to get such strong recommendations for very local services. Incidentally some dog owners don’t realise that in an emergency a dog can be taken to any vet. They don’t have to be previously registered. Consent for treatment can be given by the owner. We Professional Dog Walkers take signed consent from owners for us to bring them to any vet in an emergency. I have taken stray / lost dogs to local vets in the past. They can be identified via their microchip. Please feel free to add information about other good local vets in a comments section of this article.

Registration and first appointment

We gave our basic details over the phone then completed registration at Lio’s first appointment. These days I think most people have the option of registering online on your chosen vets website. Obviously you still need to attend for appointment. Your first appointment will be for a general health check. Your vet will also focus on any common breed specific issues. Our Lio was a Labrador and canine hip dysplasia is a common concern for his breed. Lio was fine and had all his pedigree paperwork showing no history of hereditary issues in his line.

Vets will give a general health check. This includes examination of eyes, ears, skin, coat, mouth, and bones. I have some advice about making these examinations stress free for dogs and their owners. I learned this while attending my Dog First Aid course in February this year and wish I had known before. Lio was always easy, passive and compliant at the vet. He did however get a bit stressed about being handled in a strange way. On the course they taught us that to make basic examination of our pup a normal, regular activity. It’s possible to get young pups used to having their eyes, ears and mouths gently looked at. Some owners make this into a game. There are dogs who are so used to this that they will present for examination on a one word command. Wish we had considered this approach.

Vet will discuss worming, fleas and micro chipping.  Most immediately important of all is the plan for vaccinations.

Vaccinations

My memory is that Lio was about 8 weeks when vaccination commenced. I’m told there is some minor variation in different practices. Your puppy will be given vaccination against four main infectious diseases – Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, and Leptospirosis.  You will be guided regarding regular re vaccination after the first course. Subsequent ‘titre tests’ then check what is needed for dogs in adulthood.

Always keep your own records of vaccinations and other treatments. Good for your own planning and essential requirement if using boarding services, Puppy training classes and for travelling abroad together. We made a dedicated folder with printed copies of everything regarding Lio’s health history and forward planning.

You probably know that a pup cannot be taken out or directly socialised until vaccination courses are completed. Its safe and good for puppies to be taken out if they are carried. Some people use baby slings and I think nowadays there are specially designed dedicated pup carriers available. Remember it’s not even OK to walk a pup on the ground where other dogs may have been. Lio benefitted from getting out on car journeys. He became used to the car and also got to see lots of new interesting things about the world from a safe distance.

Our vet has a good section on their website about worming and fleas.

Our experience was that it is absolutely worth investing in vet dispensed professional products for all things worm and flea. I have seen friends spend hours online trying to find cheaper alternative approaches. They have usually ended up with even more stress for all concerned and bigger bills. If we are unlucky enough to find issues then intervention needs to be quick and reliable, proven and efficient. Dogs can get very ill if not treated appropriately and lots of secondary issues can occur. These include skin infections which can get very serious and require significant treatment too.

My experience is that most supermarket flea and worm products are not good enough. We did buy some top branded products online but I have heard of fakes being sold so it can be a difficult choice and it’s our dogs health that really matters most of course. Another friend avoided vet advice and treatment and ended up with every room in the house having to be professionally treated for flea infestation by one of the big brand companies at quite a cost. As with the cost of most things is does seem that the old rule of ‘if it looks to good too be true’ applies across these issues.

Summary

My main points here have been the absolute basics. They are simple reflections on our experience and are in no way intended to provide definitive, complete information or advice . You should obviously consult your vet for all proper information and advice on these and any other topics. I will expand in future blogs about the basic facts around main infectious diseases we vaccinate for and would like to get some items up about common issues for specific breeds. I want to get some information about local puppy training classes and would welcome comment or contact from anyone with reviews of positive experiences they have had please.

Also what other content do you think would be most valuable for new owners of either pups or rescue dogs?

Please leave comments on any of the above, thank you.

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