Not long after you bring your wriggling bundle of joy home, pay a visit to the vet for a well puppy exam. At the first exam, your vet checks out the pup's basic health and might give introductory shots. With subsequent visits, she ensures that your puppy is growing normally.
Well Puppy Exam
Puppies usually go home to new families at 8 weeks of age at the earliest. If your puppy came from a breeder, your contract might require such a well puppy exam within a specified time period, often between 48 to 72 hours after going home. At his first well puppy visit, your vet thoroughly examines your little guy. She'll check his teeth to make sure they're coming in properly, look at his ears, eyes and nose, weigh him and take his temperature. If she finds anything wrong with your puppy, you might be able to return him to the breeder for a refund under the terms of your contract. In addition to this overall inspection, this vet visit allows you to ask your vet questions about feeding your puppy, basic house training, when to spay or neuter and other canine issues.
Puppies need vaccinations to protect them from disease. At your initial well puppy exam, your vet might give him the first of a series of shots. Puppy shots include parvovirus, canine distemper, hepatitis and parainfluenza vaccines. Depending on your area, your vet might also recommend vaccinating against leptospirosis and bordetella. Vaccines are generally given every three weeks from your puppy's first visit until he's between 16 and 18 weeks old. The first rabies vaccine, required by law in most states or municipalities, is usually given after a puppy turns 3 months old.
Besides your puppy, bring the vet a sample of your pet's stool. Don't be alarmed if your puppy has worms -- they're pretty common in little canines. Most often, the culprits are roundworms and hookworms. They pick them up either in utero or when nursing from an infested mom. Worms infestation is one reason many puppies experience diarrhea. Your vet will give your puppy a wormer medication to rid him of the types of worms present in the fecal sample.
Well Puppy Programs
Many veterinary hospitals and clinics offer well puppy packages. These programs generally include all the well puppy vet visits and vaccinations required over a period of a few months. Depending on the facility, you might receive discounts on puppy kindergarten classes, grooming, microchip identification and spaying or neutering. While packages vary according to the business, they don't include nonroutine puppy care, such as illness or injury treatment.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.