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Puppy Care

Puppy Care

Not much compares to bringing home a sweet, cuddly puppy! So many memories are made during this time, but it’s also important to remember that it’s your responsibility to keep him healthy. At Lone Star Animal Hospital, we know what an exciting and special time this is, and we want to provide you with the best information and advice for a great start. From good nutrition to behavior challenges, get all the tips you need for ensuring he’ll have a long and happy life.

What to expect at your puppy’s first visit

During your first visit, we will perform a thorough physical exam and offer our best recommendations on a wide variety of puppy topics, taking into account breed and lifestyle. We will pass along tailored puppy care information and answer any questions you may have. Plan to spend 45 minutes to an hour with us on the first visit. We will cover topics such as:

  • Vaccination schedule
  • Diagnosis and prevention of internal and external parasites
  • Spaying or neutering
  • Behavioral concerns and basic obedience training
  • Potty training
  • Diet recommendations
  • Signs of illness


Puppies should be vaccinated every 3-4 weeks, starting at 6-8 weeks of age. While every puppy will have a tailored plan that their owner is comfortable with, a typical vaccination plan will look something like this:

  • 6-8 weeks: DHPP
  • 9-11 weeks: DHPP, Bordetella
  • 12-14 weeks: DHPP, Leptospirosis, Rabies
  • 15-17 weeks: DHPP, Leptospirosis, Canine Influenza
  • 18-20 weeks: Canine Influenza

It is important to stay current with your puppy’s vaccinations to guard them against these preventable diseases- one of our responsibilities as pet owners is keeping them as happy and healthy as possible.

Diagnosis and prevention of internal and external parasites:

We will recommend a fecal examination, so please bring a sample with you to this visit if possible. It is fairly common for puppies to start out with an internal parasite (for example, roundworms, coccidia, hookworms, or Giardia) just based on their level of exposure. There is no prevention for Giardia or coccidia, so even if your puppy has a history of a deworming, we still will recommend checking a sample. Some internal parasites can be a concern for humans as well, so it’s really important information to know and treat if present.

We will also have recommendations for prevention of heartworms, fleas and ticks at this visit. All of these are a year-round concern for dogs in Texas, so this is an important discussion. With several products on the market, we will discuss what seems best for you and your pet.

Spaying or Neutering

According to the ASPCA (www.aspca.org), approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year, and each year, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized. Spaying and neutering reduces the number of unwanted litters. There are also specific health benefits associated with spaying and neutering, and may reduce behavior issues. Spaying a female dog helps prevent serious health problems including mammary cancer and pyometra (a potentially life-threatening uterine infection). Neutering male dogs helps keep them from contracting benign prostatic hyperplasia (an enlarged prostate gland), as well as testicular cancer.

The typical age for spaying or neutering a dog is around 6 months of age. Several factors can influence the timing of spaying and neutering, such as breed and an animal’s living situation. Recently, there is evidence that male dogs of certain large breeds may benefit from waiting to neuter until the dog has reached 10-11 months of age. There has been some evidence that this can reduce the risk of some type(s) of cancer in certain large breed dogs. While these updated guidelines have given us cause to extend the acceptable age for neutering some large breeds of dogs, the recommendation to eventually neuter the dog remains.

There are a number of misconceptions about spaying and neutering dogs. One is that once a dog is spayed or neutered, it will become overweight. This is not true, as long as dog owners provide the proper amount of exercise and food. Keeping you dog fit is an achievable goal. Another misconception is that spaying or neutering a dog will change it’s personality. This is also simply not true. We are of course happy to discuss any questions or concerns you may have about spaying or neutering so that you have a full understanding of the procedure and what you need to know for recovery from surgery.

Behavioral concerns and potty training

A great time to discuss any problem behaviors is during your puppy's visits to our hospital. We will discuss any concerns you may have and offer solutions, as well as covering general tips to set your puppy up for success. We will offer information you can take home so that everyone in your family can do their part in helping to encourage positive puppy behaviors.

Early socialization is one of the most important things you can can do for your puppy. We recommend getting your puppy started at 8-10 weeks of age in a puppy class with a veterinary-recommended trainer; this time frame is a puppy’s peak socialization window from a developmental standpoint. Your puppy will benefit from socializing with people and other dogs in a safe and controlled environment. The well-socialized dog will live a more relaxed and peaceful life, being able to relax around stressors such as crowds, other dogs or cats, cyclists, loud noises, and even veterinary exams. These classes are so important, but should also will be FUN for both the puppy and the owner! It’s an activity in which the whole family can be involved.

Diet recommendations

It can be overwhelming to walk into a pet store and try to choose the best diet for your puppy, there are so many options. Puppies need more calories than adult dogs, and large breed dogs have different nutritional requirements compared to small breed dogs. At your puppy’s visits with us, we will consider breed and lifestyle to make the best recommendation for a well-balanced puppy diet.

Generally speaking, your puppy should be fed 2-3 times daily, depending on size and age. Measuring the amount you feed, and feeding on a set schedule (meal-feeding) helps with potty training as well. Protein levels and calcium/phosphorus ratios are some very important factors we consider when making diet recommendations for your puppy. We are happy to answer any questions you have about diet at these first puppy visits—it’s an important discussion!

Signs of Illness

Puppies have an immature, growing immune system, and are susceptible to diseases that can be very serious. Most are preventable with vaccinations, but vaccinations alone will not prevent all illnesses of course. An owner should be observant for changes in behavior and symptoms of illness. If you observe any of the following symptoms in your puppy, it may be an urgent or emergency situation and you should contact your vet immediately:

  • Vomiting or Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy (tiredness or listlessness)
  • Poor weight gain
  • Labored (difficulty) breathing
  • Pain
  • Coughing
  • Pale gums
  • Red eyes or eye discharge
  • Sneezing or nasal discharge
  • Straining or inability to pass urine or stool

Schedule Your Puppy’s First Visit

Scheduling an appointment is easy—just give us a call, send us an email. We look forward to meeting your new addition!

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