What to Expect in Your Puppy's First Year, by Dr. Martha McTavish, DVM
Getting a puppy? Here is a taste of what to expect for the first year.
Veterinary visits are 8, 12 and 16 weeks for health exams, vaccines, deworming and flea and heartworm prevention on each visit.
Spay or neuter surgery at 4 – 6 months of age.
Your pet may need baby teeth extracted if they do not all fall out naturally when the permanent teeth come in, this could require another anesthesia procedure for your pet and veterinary bill for you.
Your pet will likely have one or two minor illnesses in the first 6 months. Urinary tract infection, skin infections, diarrhea or vomiting episodes are common in young pets. These are generally mild and treated easily but will add a couple of additional doctor visits to your puppy’s first year.
Because we live in the South you’ll need flea prevention and heartworm prevention every month for your dogs’ entire life.
You and your pet will benefit from obedience class at 2 – 6 months of life. This will help teach YOU how to train your puppy and help socialize your puppy to other dogs and other people.
Your pet may need to start regular grooming visits after it is a few months old.
It is great to get your dog used to having its ears cleaned, nails trimmed and teeth brushed BY YOU as a young puppy.
Your pet may have some issues that can also affect the health of the humans in your house: such as fleas, scabies mites, roundworms, hookworms, and ringworm. These are all treatable infections but could be things you would also have to treat family members for as well.
Your new puppy could have health issues that can affect the other animals in your house: such as fleas, respiratory infections, intestinal viruses like parvovirus, parasites like roundworms, whipworms, tapeworms, and hookworms, ear mites, and ringworm.
It is great to arrange a veterinary visit for your new pet before you even bring the pet into your own home when possible.
Isolating a new pet from your other pets in your household for the first week is wise, in case they are incubating any contagious diseases that your other pets could contract.
Housebreaking your puppy can take several months. Be patient.
Everyone expects a new puppy to be loads of fun and entertainment, and they are right about that. But don’t forget that their good health and welfare is also a financial responsibility that should be planned for.
Be aware that if you adopt a dog from the Charleston Animal Society Shelter it will come to you spayed or neutered and current on vaccines and other veterinary care appropriate for its age. This can save you money, and more importantly you are saving the life of a puppy who otherwise might be euthanized.