Preventative Health Care For Puppies

Here at Four Seasons Animal Hospital, people are always asking us, “What would you do if it was your puppy?” Well, the list below summarizes what we would do to keep our puppy healthy, starting with one of the most important steps: Choosing a Health Puppy.

Choosing a Healthy Puppy

1. When possible, try to examine the entire litter of puppies. If one puppy is sneezing, has diarrhea, or has a runny nose or eyes, assume the entire litter is infected.

2. Puppies should be active, have thick glossy coats, and not be bony.

3. AVOID PET STORES!! Puppies are overpriced, have poor conformation, ear mites, respiratory infection and coccidiosis (an intestinal parasite) unless proven otherwise. Purchasing pet store puppies supports the often inhumane pet “puppy-mill” business.

4. Avoid adopting a puppy less than 6 weeks old. All puppies should be at least 8 weeks old before they are taken away from their mothers.


1. Puppies should start their vaccinations at 6-8 weeks of age.

2. Diseases vaccinated for are canine distemper, canine hepatitis, leptospirosis, para-influenza, parvo virus, corona virus, and rabies.

3. A series of vaccinations are given, usually three vaccinations, one month apart, with the last vaccination being given when the pup is 16 weeks or older. All vaccinations are necessary to insure adequate immunity. Vaccines are required every 1-3 years to maintain immunity.

4. Indiana state law requires a current rabies vaccination in all dogs 6 months of age and older. We usually give the rabies vaccination at 4 months (16 to 18 weeks) of age. Rabies vaccinations must also be updated every 1-3 years to maintain immunity.


1. Because of their tremendous growth rate and small stomachs, puppies must be feed a diet formulated for puppies. We recommend a meat based grain-free diet. The first ingredient should be a meat or meat meal and the remaining ingredients should not contain a lot of corn or wheat.

2. Weak or orphan puppies should be supplemented with Esbilac (K-9 Similac) or EnerCal. Avoid dairy products, eggs, etc….

3. Vitamins are recommended until the puppy reaches an adult build.

4. Do not feed puppies freely. Food should be presented to the puppy for 15 minutes and then taken away. This schedule should be followed:

Housebreaking a Puppy

Housebreaking should begin at 8 weeks of age. Successful housetraining involves four factors: adherence to a schedule, confined bedding area, lavish amounts of verbal awards, and patience.

1. Schedule – There are four times when a puppy has to eliminate: a) A Puppy usually urinates after taking a nap. Puppies usually nap 3-4 times a day which means 3-4 trips outside. b) After eating c) After play and d) Before bedding down for the night. Adherence to the above feeding schedule, allows you schedule trips outside to correspond with naps, eating, and playing.

2. Confinement – Puppies usually do not eliminate where they sleep. Puppies confined to a limited space when not supervised, tend to retain urine and feces until taken outside. There are a wide variety of housebreaking crates and cages available to fit your puppy.

3. Rewarding – Praise is the best motivator for housebreaking. To be effective it must be given during elimination. This means many trips outside in inclimate weather for you and your pet. Punishment is effective only if the puppy is caught “in the act.”

4. Patience – Patience and consistency are essential. When accidents do happen, an odor neutralizer will enzymatically eliminate feces and urine spots to prevent a puppy from returning to the same spot.


1. Heartworms are a mosquito born parasite that infests the dog’s heart. The adult heartworms clog the circulation in the lungs and heart. The young heartworms, called microfilaria, circulate in the blood stream. The microfilaria are sucked up when a mosquito feeds and then transferred to other dogs where they migrate to the heart, and the cycle repeats.

2. In Northwest Indiana, 1 dog in 5 will be infected unless Heartworm preventive medication is given. Preventative is available in several forms for convenient dosing. Heartworm preventative is given year round.

Spaying and Castrating

1. Female Dogs should be spayed at 6 months if not used for breeding. Spaying benefits you and your pet by: a) Preventing unwanted pregnancies. b) Preventing messy heat cycles. c) Reducing the incidence of breast cancer by 300%. d) Eliminates pyometras, false pregnancies and ovarian cancer.

2. Male dogs should be castrated at 6 months if not used for breeding. Castrating benefits you and your pet by: a) Preventing objectionable male behavior: roaming, aggressiveness, fights, mounting, and urine marking. b) Reducing incidence of prostatic disease, perianal tumors and hernias. c) Castration of the male dog population is more effective in controlling the pet overpopulation problem. Neither spaying nor castrating is considered dangerous surgically. Although both procedures are actually major surgery, millions of dogs are spayed and castrated each year without complications.

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