New Puppy FAQ
What you need to know about bringing home a new puppy.
The puppies get a natural immunity from their mothers, but by the time they are 6 to 8 weeks old, they’re losing that and they become very vulnerable to all the diseases and illnesses that are out there. That’s what the shots help protect against.
Q: How dangerous are distemper and the parvo virus to my puppy?
A: Distemper and parvo are the most dangerous viruses that can affect a puppy. They are potentially deadly. They are the main reason puppies are vaccinated early. Distemper is especially deadly. If we catch parvo early, there’s a good success rate with treatment.
Q: What other illnesses are common in puppies?
A: Intestinal worms -- hookworms and roundworms -- are pretty common. Demodectic mange is very common with puppies. Gastrointestinal issues are pretty common in puppies, both diarrhea and vomiting. Their intestinal system and colon are still growing and are easily disrupted.
But in general, if they receive good care, most puppies are pretty healthy. I’d say less than 10% of the puppies we see are really sick, and then it’s usually because the owners are people who really shouldn’t own a dog in the first place.
Q: Do all puppies have worms?
A: Not all puppies, but it is very common for puppies to have roundworms or hookworms, either passed in utero or through a mothers' milk. Because worm infection is so common, we normally deworm puppies just to be safe. Fecal samples might not show parasites, but it’s so common that it’s almost irresponsible not to deworm a puppy.
Q: Can puppies have heartworms?
A: Puppies can be infected any time after birth. But heartworms take six months to mature, so even if a puppy right out of the womb is bitten by an infected mosquito, he wouldn’t test positive for heartworms until he’s about six months old.
People should talk to their veterinarian about getting their puppy on heartworm preventative as soon as possible.
Q: Can I flea dip my puppy or put other flea products on him if he has fleas and ticks?
A: You have to be very careful. Most flea and tick products aren’t safe for puppies and some could even kill them. It’s best to talk to your veterinarian if you have this problem. The vet can give you something safe for your puppy and tell you how to administer it correctly.
I can’t tell you how many puppies we’ve seen at our emergency clinic that have been poisoned by over-the-counter flea and tick products that their owner bought at the supermarket or a big box store. We never recommend over-the-counter flea and tick products because the kind of medication they use isn’t as safe as the products the FDA has approved to be sold by veterinarians.