For those lucky enough to start out with a new puppy on day 1, taking a few steps today helps to ensure that the next 15-20 years will be a success for both of you. Avoid impulses, do your homework and plan to spend plenty of time getting your little bundle of joy prepared for his or her 1st year of life with you.
So what are the most important considerations for new puppy owners?
How can you be sure your new puppy is healthy?
When is best time for your puppies 1st visit to the vet and why?
Because most of us tend to become attached very quickly, it is ideal to take your new puppy to vet before you bring him home. If that’s not possible, try to visit your vet within 1st 48 hours. This way you can think with your head, rather than your heart when it comes to ensuring the health of your new puppy.
This requires a trip to the vet. What will the vet do?
Your vet will give the puppy a complete physical exam, address vaccinations and intestinal parasites and advise you on heartworm and flea preventatives. Spaying and neutering are generally also discussed.
Dr. Carol’s Tip: Surgically altering pets prior to age 6, results in a 30% decrease in longevity and wellness. It also increases the risk of arthritis and hip dysplasia as well as other long bone and behavioral disorders. The risk of several types of pet cancer including cancer of your pet’s reproductive organs, for example the prostate is also significantly increased.
What Shots do Puppies need?
Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvo Virus and Parainfluenza usually make up the “4 in 1” puppy shot. Kennel Cough and Rabies vaccinations in addition to the “4 in 1” cover the gamut for most canines.
What’s the Scoop on Puppy Shots?
Vaccines help protect your puppy against many of the most serious potentially fatal diseases. Newborn puppies receive natural protection from the antibodies in their mother’s first milk, which is called colostrum, while nursing. This protection only lasts for the first few months of your pup’s life. After that, your puppy has to fend for himself. Current canine vaccination protocols have been updated.
Today, most vets recommend a “puppy series” of shots, given at 12 and 16 weeks of age. After that, a booster is required at 3 year intervals for protection. Vaccines are routinely recommended for Infectious Canine Distemper, Infectious Canine Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus. This vaccine is usually given as a “4 in 1” injection and constitutes the routine “puppy shots.”
Kennel Cough is a vaccine for Bordetella and is usually administered intranasally which means that it is squirted up the nose. Oral Bordetella vaccines are also available.
Because of the nearly explosive increase in Ticks, Lyme’s Disease vaccinations, although still highly controversial, may be recommended, especially for pets living in endemic areas, like the Great Lakes.
Rabies Vaccine for dogs is a law in most states. Regardless, the vaccine protects your dog from Rabies and you from a variety of legal issues. Unvaccinated pets bitten by unvaccinated animals must be quarantined for six months or put to sleep. To euthanize a healthy pet because he was bitten but not vaccinated is a tragedy for all involved.
What about Alternative Puppy Shots?
Homeopathic vaccines are called nosodes. Nosodes are made from natural disease products. They are sterilized, diluted, and prepared so that they are safe and efficacious. Nosodes are given by mouth over a period of time that may extend from weeks to months. They, like vaccines, stimulate your dog’s immune system to protect against infection. Nosodes are available for Canine Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, and Parvovirus. There is no Nosode available for Rabies.
What about Canine Antibody Titers as an alternative to Shots?
Antibody titers document protective levels of antibodies in your dog’s blood effective against certain diseases routinely covered by vaccines. Asking your vet to draw blood for an antibody titer is an excellent, healthy alternative to routine vaccinations. Michigan State University offers titers for Distemper, Parvo virus and Hepatitis. Rabies titers are available but currently are not accepted by in this country.
Canine Vaccine Exemption Forms:
Pet over vaccination is a real concern for many pet owners. Whether or not administering vaccines, especially in senior aged pets, age 7 and older, protects health or promotes chronic disease is currently being debated.
Certainly as a pet owner, your pet’s health as well as his or her “shot” status and vaccine schedule should be your choice. Legally, however, this issue becomes confusing to many of us including veterinarians.
So what should a pet owner do?
First ask yourself 2 questions: is this shot beneficial to my pet and second, is this shot safe? Unfortunately, regarding your pet’s potential benefits, the efficacy of repeated revaccination in senior aged pets is clearly lacking according to immunologists.
The more important question is the pet vaccination safety issue, because today there is a growing body of evidence that shows a correlation between repeated pet vaccinations and chronic disease.
Dr. Carol’s TIP: Pets with cancer should NEVER be vaccinated!
What legal choices do pet owners have regarding their pets shots?
1st Read the label! The vaccine label clearly states that the vaccine should ONLY be given to healthy pets. If your pet is not healthy, that’s your 1st window of opportunity to speak out and voice your concerns.
It is interesting to note that most states accept legal vaccine exemption forms for the majority of canine vaccinations. With respect to Rabies vaccines, currently 18 states accept RABIES MEDICAL EXEMPTION forms for dogs and cats. Those states specifically include: Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Pet owners interested in legally exempting their pets from routine shots, including Rabies vaccines should contact their veterinarian. In some cases directing your questions to your states official Veterinary Medical Officer may be needed.