How will proper puppy care impact the life of my dog?

Just like with people, the things that we can control with our dogs are what we feed them. That's first and foremost. Garbage in, garbage out. If we feed them table food, Cheetos, chips, and peach crust all the time, obviously, at some point, there's going to be a payback for that. So quality pet food, above all else. Focus on that. Other than that, just give them a loving environment, a safe place where they can interact with you and interact with other dogs that might be in the household. That's really the most supportive thing that's going to improve the quality of their life.

Dr. Bob Parrish
Carolina Value Pet Care

Why is it important to start good puppy care on day one?

Quite simply because we obviously want our puppies to be with us as long as they possibly can. We get a puppy, and we're in for the long haul. We've made a commitment for that dog to be with us for years and years, so the sooner we can put some practices into play, the longer we can have our dogs with us and the more we can enjoy them.

How soon should I bring my puppy in to see a veterinarian for their first exam?

That's a good question. A lot of it depends on any information you receive about your puppy from the breeder, the previous owner, the rescue society, or the humane society, wherever you got your puppy. Obviously, the biggest concern we have, and I should have mentioned this with the first question, is vaccines for the same reason that children get vaccines. It is to protect them against potentially life-threatening diseases. We obviously want to see them at some point early on before you've had them for too long, so we can get started with the necessary vaccines and try to protect them against potentially deadly diseases.

What are the most common health problems in puppies?

The first one that we generally see is intestinal worms. Puppies are generally born with hookworms and/or roundworms. With the hookworms, if they have a heavy infestation, we've talked about fleas in other videos where they can actually be potentially life-threatening if they have so many fleas. Same with the hookworms, they are bloodsuckers. Roundworms are not, but since the hookworms are bloodsuckers, they can be potentially life-threatening to a puppy by just literally sucking too much blood from the intestinal tract.

What are some signs and symptoms of illness in your puppy?

The first thing you're gonna notice when you get a new puppy is just what is its disposition, it's attitude, its willingness to play, and eat. Of course, it's going to be different with every puppy, but we generally have the expectation that the puppy's going to be curious. A puppy's going to be issued in eating, and it's going to want to interact and make some discoveries in this new environment that it's in. Those are the first things I'm going to be looking for. Is it interactive? Is it showing some curiosity, and is it eating? I'm also going to take a look at his bowel movements. Are the stools firm, or does the puppy seem like he's puny and he just doesn't respond that well or is he, and we use this term in veterinary medicine, ADR: Ain't Doing Right. If you've had puppies before, you have a pretty good sense of a normal puppy disposition and play behavior, and if they're doing that, that's what we're looking for.

When should I start training my puppy?

That's also a good question. Most people don't really know how to train a puppy. Certainly, the earlier that you can engage in training activity, the better. There are a couple of considerations here, though. Yes, there are more YouTube videos out there, and they can be a great resource for teaching training techniques. However, keep this in mind, if you were to become engaged with a dog trainer or go to puppy classes, understand they're not there to teach your puppy. They're there to teach you as well. And then it's up to you in between classes if you're going once a week. You have to engage with your puppy, and you need to be training them every day and working on some of those habits because the more you engage with them, the more you instill those behaviors and those training techniques, the better for your puppy but also for you.

What will my vet be looking for when first examining my puppy?

The first thing we're going to look for is overall health and wellbeing. We're going to make sure its color looks good. When I say the color, I mean we're going to look at its gums. We're going to look at the tissue around the eyes and make sure they're nice and pink like they should be. We're going to feel your puppy and listen to its heart and lungs. We're also going to ask questions. If you have any particular questions or concerns or any issues that you're concerned about with your puppy. A lot of times, we depend as much on not just our exam but on information that we've been able to collect. Your observation will be as informational to us as the exam itself.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (704) 288-8620, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.

Puppy Care - FAQs

Dr. Bob Parrish
Carolina Value Pet Care

What vaccinations does my puppy need?

It depends on the age. When we start, the first ones we typically give are what we call distemper parvo. Most dog owners have heard of distemper parvo, but when we use that term, we're protecting against several different diseases in that one vaccine. Those two diseases are highly contagious and life-threatening viruses. We're also protecting against a disease called adenovirus, which is an upper respiratory disease and a liver disease. And another one is called parainfluenza, which is a form of kennel cough in dogs. Those are the primary ones. And then there's another one called leptospirosis, which we highly recommend in this part of the country because it is a bacterial infection that they get from contaminated water sources, like backyard puddles and such. The then is also the rabies vaccine, but we don't start that until they are three months of age, excuse me. That one is required by law because of the potential for human health because it is a deadly virus and a deadly disease. Another one is called Bordetella. Bordetella is a form of kennel cough as well. Those are the three that we always recommend. Other ones are going to be based upon their lifestyle, like Lyme disease vaccines and canine flu vaccines.

What are core vaccines?

The core vaccines are the ones we had just mentioned: distemper parvo, leptospirosis, rabies, and Bordetella. Those are the core vaccines. The other ones that I started to mention are Lyme disease and flu vaccine. They're not considered core, but they are recommended for a lot of dogs depending on their lifestyle and the environment they're going to be in. But the core vaccines are distemper parvo, rabies, and Bordetella.

How often does my puppy need to go to the veterinarian for puppy vaccinations?

This is where it gets a little bit tricky for some pet owners and puppy owners in particular. Sometimes people come in and say, gosh, I've already got three vaccines. How many more do you get? What matters is the age at which we see your puppy. Hopefully, this will help explain why we give vaccines the way we do. When a puppy is born, the first milk they get from its mama dog is called colostrum. The colostrum is filled with all these antibodies to protect them against different diseases to some degree. We know that antibody protection will start to fade at about six weeks of age, but every puppy's different. So for some puppies, that protection or that immunity might be gone in the next two or three weeks. For another puppy, it might be another six weeks, and we don't know when that immunity is out of their system from that initial milk called the colostrum. But this much we do know. By the time they are 16 weeks of age, virtually all of the antibodies from the mother's milk are gone. So how many vaccines they're going to get depends on at what age we start. That's the reason we give a series of vaccines up until at least the age of 16 weeks and perhaps a little bit beyond. Typically, we'll give the vaccines about once a month, once every four weeks, or every three to five weeks. That is the window for getting the vaccines. Hopefully, that'll give a little bit more clarity as to why we give the vaccines, like distemper parvo, in a sequence as we do.

Are there any risks associated with vaccinations?

Unfortunately, there's always a potential for an adverse reaction with any vaccine. This is certainly true for people. It can be true of a shingles vaccine, a flu vaccine, and a COVID vaccine for people. There is a potential risk of having an adverse reaction. Generally speaking, we see three types of adverse reactions to vaccines, not just in puppies. This is with the dogs and cats. We very rarely see adverse reactions in cats. The most common one, even though it's not very common at all, but it is the most common of the three, is injection site discomfort, much like what a lot of people experience when they get a vaccine. Generally, we'll suggest that they take some children's aspirin, depending on the weight of the dog, to help relieve some of the discomfort going on. Much less commonly, we will see dogs that might get vomiting or diarrhea from the vaccines.

Although, sometimes, with puppies, that might be from car sickness or the stress of this strange new environment that they're in and they've never been exposed to before. Third, and certainly the least common, we give lots of vaccines every year, and we may only see two or three per year of this type of reaction where dogs actually may get a true, what we call anaphylactic reaction, where they get some swelling in the face or little bumps all over their trunk or their sides. That's an extreme case, and we do have the medications on hand to be able to treat those dogs.

Does my puppy need vaccinations even if I keep them inside?

Absolutely. Rabies is required by law. It doesn't matter if they're inside or outside. That's a given. They have to get the rabies vaccine. There's also distemper parvo. Even though your dog never goes outside, you can potentially bring in these viruses. How do you do that? Primarily through like the soles of your shoes. You can pick up the organisms in the environment in the backyard. You go to a neighbor's house, to a park, you go anywhere. Especially if you go to like a dog park, you can easily pick up some of these viruses and bring them back to your dog, even though your dog never goes outside.

What if I miss one of my puppy's vaccinations?

It's very simple. Just keep coming back. Come back at the first opportunity, come to see us, and we'll make sure that we get the vaccines on track. I don't want you to lose sleep if you happen to miss getting the vaccine, but by all means, the best thing that you can do for your puppy is to make sure they're vaccinated because there's nothing more heartbreaking than seeing a puppy that dies from like parvovirus that could have been prevented. The puppy could have been saved. It could have been immunized long before, and you have a heartbroken client who's got this puppy that dies in their arms because they didn't take the time to get them vaccinated. It just rips our hearts out. So again, take care of your puppies, and come to see us at Carolina Value Pet Care. Check our schedule, and we hope to see you soon.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (704) 288-8620, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.