Puppy Care

DHPP: A series of “Distemper Group” vaccines (DHPP) is recommended for all puppies. This vaccination helps to prevent distemper virus, parvo virus, parainfluenza and canine hepatitis. The vaccinations in the series are given typically at 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age. This vaccine is repeated each year until the age of 2 years. It can then be given every 3 years.

Bordetella: An oral vaccine against Kennel Cough (Bordetella) is recommended at either the 8 or 12 week visit. This vaccine is repeated annually. It can be given every 6 months if needed or required for boarding.

Rabies: A Rabies vaccine is given at 12-16 weeks of age. This vaccination is repeated in one year and then every 3 years thereafter. Rabies vaccinations are required by law.

Lyme: A Lyme disease vaccination is recommended in our area. A series of two vaccines can be given between 8 & 16 weeks of age. Because Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases are transmitted by deer ticks, we recommend tick control by giving oral Nexgard or Simparica every month year-round.

Leptospira: A Leptospira vaccine can be added to the core vaccine protocol for dogs that hunt, live on a farm, or have other risk factors for Leptospira bacterial infection. A series of two vaccines is required.

Influenza: Like people, dogs can be affected by different strains of the flu, a highly contagious respiratory infection. Two strains of canine influenza affect dogs internationally, H3N8 and H3N2. There is now a vaccine that will protect against both strains. A booster is required in two to four weeks, and dogs should be revaccinated with one dose every year. Healthy dogs and puppies over 7 weeks of age can be vaccinated. As with most infectious respiratory disease viruses, the vaccine does not protect completely against or eliminate the virus but reduces how ill your dog may become, and decreases your dog’s ability to transmit the virus to other dogs. To decide whether or not your dog should be vaccinated for influenza, talk to us about travel plans outside our immediate area.

An ovariohysterectomy (spay) for females or neutering of males is typically scheduled at about 6 months of age. Recent research has suggested that certain breeds may benefit from waiting through a first heat cycle or until sexual maturity. We can discuss the best plan for your pet based on the breed and lifestyle.

A microchip can be used to permanently identify your dog. A microchip the size of a grain of rice is inserted under your puppy’s skin. This microchip has a unique number which can be read by a scanner at almost any veterinary clinic or animal shelter nationwide. Fewer than half of lost dogs in animal shelters are ever reunited with their families. Collars and identification tags with names and phone numbers are a good first step, but collars can be lost or fall off. We recommend microchips.

All dogs over 12 weeks of age are required by law to have a county dog license. Once your pet has a form of permanent identification, a Pennsylvania lifetime dog license can be obtained from the county treasurer. For Centre County, this is located at the Willowbank Building in Bellefonte.

A fecal (poop) sample should be checked on every new puppy for the presence of intestinal parasites and bacterial infections. Roundworms and hookworms are the most common, and these worms can infect human beings. Whipworms are not as common but can be a recurrent problem without proper prevention. Tapeworms, which are spread through the ingestion of fleas, are not typically diagnosed from microscopic fecal exams but from seeing segments of the worm on your pet or on his/her bedding. Other parasites, such as coccidia, giardia, and bacterial overgrowth, can cause diarrhea. Annual fecal exams and monthly prevention with products such as Interceptor Plus are recommended for all dogs to keep parasites under control.

Common external parasites in our area are fleas and ticks, which can transmit serious diseases. There are a variety of products available for flea and tick control. We recommend oral Nexgard for puppies and Simparica for adult dogs and puppies over 6 months of age. Other products, including collars (Seresto and Scalibor) and topical (Revolution), are also available.

Heartworm prevention should be started once your dog is 2 months of age. A preventative (Interceptor Plus) is given orally every month year-round to prevent hookworms and roundworms as well as heartworm disease. A Heartworm/Tick-borne Disease Screen should be done annually once your dog is a year old. This screen tests not only for heartworms but for 3 tick-borne diseases (Lyme, Anaplasma, and Ehrlichia).

The following feeding schedule is recommended for puppies:

Age Number of Feedings per Day

< 3 months 4

3-6 months 3

7-12 months 2

> 12 months 2

(We do not recommend feeding any dog a single feeding per day)
A high quality puppy food (Growth Formula) is recommended for this time period (giant breeds should receive a high quality adult dog food or Large Breed puppy food). Extra vitamins and other supplements are not necessary if a good quality diet is fed.


All dogs benefit from some form of obedience training, and your relationship with your dog will be stronger when the two of you train together. The best time to begin training your new puppy is right now! Socialization skills and good manners can be easily taught to most young puppies with positive reinforcement and gentle praise. Puppy Kindergarten classes are one of the best ways to start your new puppy off in the right direction. A list of some of the canine obedience classes offered in the area is in your new puppy kit.

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