Vaccinations are given at 6 to 8 weeks of age. After 8 weeks of age, shots are considered late, but it is better to give vaccinations late than not at all. We recommend that the day you get your puppy you bring it in for it’s first shots and deworming for hookworms, roundworms, and tapeworms. Most puppies are at least 6 weeks old by the time they leave their mother, so they can be given their shots immediately. Waiting on the shots often results in the puppy’s immunity from its mother running low and the puppy can then get sick. Early shots will provide disease protection while the puppy’s protection from its mother is running out.
Booster shots are given every 21 days until the puppy is 4 months old. At this age, disease protection is usually good for one year. Waiting 2-3 days past the 21 day shot schedule can result in your puppy getting sick with Parvo, Corona or Distemper virus, as the puppy’s immunity can drop very low, very fast. So it is OK to come in a day or two early for the booster shots. The same schedule applies to kittens.
Heartworm medicine is started as early as 6 weeks of age with 8-12 weeks being the usual. These are once a month pills given year round for the pet’s entire life. If the heartworm pills are stopped, then a blood test for heartworms must be run before starting the medication again. Heartworm medicine is a prescription product, so by federal law, it must be obtained from the veterinarian or with a prescription.
Deworming products sold in grocery stores and pet shops are for stomach worms and can be purchased over-the –counter, but they are not heartworm prevention medicine. Puppies can be started on heartworm medicine without testing up to 6 months of age. We recommend the following for the sick, injured, very young/small pets and post surgical patients:
1. Use an electric heating pad on low or medium heat under the pet’s bed, or a floor heater in a small room like a bathroom, as your pet’s normal body temperature is 102.5 F, while a person’s in 98.5 F, so since the pet’s body temperature is higher, they tend to get chilled faster than we do, especially if the pet is small and has short hair. An enclosed plastic carrier is an excellent home for your pet, as a heating pad can be placed under a towel with the back of the carrier over it. The carrier will then trap heat inside it. This will create an external heat source that the pet can rest right on top of, which is especially important for the very young and small pets. You can even put a towel over the carrier to further trap heat during especially cold weather. An external heat source along with canned or table food are the two most important factors in maintaining the pet’s health at home.
2. Feed a rich canned food or table food. The table food will not make your pet sick, it is actually a very digestible source of high-energy food that the pet uses to fuel their immune system and fight disease. Do not feed bones of any type; they can cause serious intestinal damage. Stir-fried hamburger meat, de-boned chicken, eggs, rice, potato, and pasta are excellent sources of protein and carbohydrates, and these supply much needed energy for the young and or sick. Fruits and vegetables are all right but do not feed grapes, they may cause kidney damage. Gerber’s baby food can also be given, use the beef or chicken. Feed as much as the pet will eat, just keep putting food down until the pet walks away and leaves the food in the bowl. Dry food can be left out all the time for the pet to eat.
Science Diet, Eukanuba, and Pro Plan food are considered premium foods, while from the grocery store we recommend Pedigree food or Purina One. Pets can be operated on for spaying and neutering at about 6 months of age, as female dogs and cats will go into heat at about 9 months of age. The more heat cycles a dog goes through, the greater the chances are of breast cancer later in life. We strongly recommend spaying the female pet before the first heat cycle, as this will greatly lower the chances of breast cancer and also eliminate the possibility of a uterus infection.