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For the first six weeks of life puppies are protected by you, the owner, from extreme heat, cold and predators. The mother or Dam provides the maternal antibodies that are found in the colostrum, or first milk. This provides nutrients needed for growth and development. An antigen is a substance that introduces a state of sensitivity or immune responsiveness after a latent period and causes a puppy or dog to become sick. Antibodies are substances that react with an antigen to protect the puppy or dog against that certain antigen. Maternal antibodies are received from the mother, before and after birth, and during the last six weeks after the puppy's birth. It is because of the maternal antibodies that puppies do not need to make their first visit to the veterinary clinic until they are six weeks of age.

Eight Procedures to be Performed at a Routine Office Visit

  1. A general physical exam, recording weight and any abnormalities
  2. Check for external parasites
  3. Perform a fecal exam
  4. Administer a de-wormer (This is done even if the dog or puppy is negative for any parasites)
  5. Initiate Heartworm prevention (one dose by weight for puppies and will recheck at each visit) Vaccinate
  6. Advice will be given on nutrition, grooming and health care of your puppy or dog and some veterinary offices may provide you with pamphlets about such topics. A health record will be started or updated for the owner.
  7. A routine physical exam is a general look-over of the puppy or dog to ensure good health status. All systems of the body will be checked and questions will be asked about each one. The skin and ears are checked thoroughly for external parasites such as fleas, ticks, skin mites, ear mites and ringworms. If any of these parasites are found, they must be treated immediately to avoid spreading and/or causing secondary infection. The puppy or dog must be started on prevention of these parasites or if already on a prevention, it should be changed to a different dose or preventive. A fecal exam is used to determine if your puppy or dog has any internal parasites such as whipworms, roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms and coccidia. A routine de-wormer such as Pyrantal is given regardless of positive or negative result of fecal exam. If tapeworms or coccidia are present, other medications may be administered and dispensed according to results and severity of infestation. Heartworm prevention, which is determined by the puppy or dog's weight and administered as a pill, chewable tablet or injection, is started at the six weeks of age visit. It is given once monthly for the length of the dog's life. There are many different brands and effects. Some of the Heartworm preventives have internal parasite de-wormer in them and some have external parasite prevention in them. Many of the options will be available at your local veterinary clinic and will be discussed with you by the veterinarian or the veterinary technician to determine the best one for your puppy or dog. Although this prevention can be changed at any time, it must be given monthly to prevent Heartworm disease, which is terminal for your dog.

    A standard vaccination schedule is used. Many Veterinarians use their own discretion on a routine vaccination schedule. Some do not give the Lyme disease vaccinations until the ninth or twelfth week. Some do not give parts of the eight-in-one vaccination until the ninth or twelfth week. Lyme disease vaccination is not required, but is recommended. Kennel Cough vaccinations are recommended and only required for boarding, showing and other events. Rabies vaccination is required once a year in some areas, but other areas only require the three-year vaccination.
  8. Before the visit ends, any problems, diseases or illnesses that arose during the visit will be addressed. This may include other tests such as blood work, skin scrapings or other types of diagnostic tests. Any questions that you may have can be discussed at this time along with other useful information you can use such as prevention procedures of parasites and other diseases, management of the new puppy, skin, ear and nail care, grooming and nutrition. Before the owner leaves the office, a health record will be started or updated for your puppy or dog. If a Rabies vaccination was given, a rabies tag and certificate will be given along with a date for a follow up visit. Many clinics will send out reminders to bring in your puppy or dog, which will help you keep up with when an appointment needs to be made.
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