Puppy Shots: Choosing Your Veterinarian

Who needs to call the shots?

Your puppy should meet your veterinarian as soon as possible after you bring him home, particularly if you have other dogs at home. If your puppy has any communicable disease not already evident, it is important to protect your family while you still have the option of returning the puppy to the breeder, shelter or animal rescue. To protect your puppy, limit his contact with other dogs and areas in which dogs have been until he’s completed his vaccinations.

Check with your veterinarian for a recommended schedule of vaccinations. Puppies generally get three sets of injections starting at eight weeks of age and repeating at two- to three-week intervals. They are vaccinated against distemper, parvovirus, bordatella and rabies.

Heartworm protection can be started immediately or at the 12-week visit when a puppy’s growth slows. This is also an appropriate time to discuss flea preventive programs.

Booster shots are administered every year at your puppy’s annual visit. Maintaining a regular vaccination routine and prevention is key to maintaining your puppy’s health – by the time your puppy shows symptoms of the disease, a cure is difficult.

Selecting a Veterinarian

Choosing a veterinarian is a lot like choosing a pediatrician. You want someone with great credentials, someone you can feel comfortable with, who’ll answer all your questions, and who genuinely cares about your puppy.

When selecting a veterinarian, consider the following:

  1. Ask for recommendations from family, friends, and neighbours. They can be a great resource, especially if they’re conscientious caregivers. If you’re new to the area, call the local Humane Society or a breed association for suggestions.
  2. Choose a clinic close to home so you can get there quickly in case of an emergency. Long drives are the worst when you have a sick or injured puppy.
  3. Be sure that the veterinarian’s hours are compatible with yours. If a trip to the veterinarian means you’ll have to take time off work, your puppy might not get care when he needs it.
  4. Check if the veterinarian offers 24-hour emergency care. Emergencies often occur late at night or on weekends when your veterinarian is not available. A good veterinarian will be associated with a 24-hour emergency care plan or be able to put you in touch with one in your area.
  5. Make a “get acquainted” visit. You can tell a lot about a veterinarian by visiting his or her clinic. Is it clean and tidy? Is the staff friendly, knowledgeable and helpful? Does the veterinarian seem open and genuinely interested in you and your puppy?

Perhaps the most loving, responsible thing you can do for your puppy is to see that he receives timely health care from a veterinarian. It’s important to establish a relationship with a veterinarian right away, so he or she becomes a trusted partner in your puppy’s upbringing.