Puppy/Dog General Care



Vaccinations:  Continue vaccinations every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks old.  The final 2 boosters should be given after 12 weeks of age to ensure a strong immune response.

Internal Parasites:  

  • Puppies should be routinely dewormed every 2- 4 weeks for at least 4 treatments to eliminate common internal parasites. Please give the Strongid dewormer as prescribed.
  • Please bring a fecal sample in the coming week for analysis to ensure all parasites are being treated.

Nutrition:  We recommend Hill’s Ideal Balance or another high-quality puppy food.  Feed measured quantities three times daily to maintain lean body condition (Can transition to twice daily feeding at 4-months of age).  Adjust food to keep puppies in lean-body condition throughout their growing stage.  This will help prevent adult obesity and is critically important in minimizing joint problems in large-breed dogs.

Flea/Parasite Control:  We recommend monthly oral administration of Simparica Trio, or a combination of Credelio and Interceptor Plus, to treat and prevent fleas, ticks, heartworm disease and other internal parasites. A fecal analysis should be performed annually to detect the presence of other less common parasites along with Giardia and Coccidia, which are not treated by use of prevention products and are present throughout our region.


  • Veterinarians have recommended for decades that dogs be spayed/neutered at 5-6 months of age, just before they become sexually mature. This prevents unwanted breeding, behavioral problems associated with puberty and hormone production, and eliminates the chance of breast cancer in female dogs.
  • Recent studies suggest that neutering large-breed dogs before 12 months of age may increase their risk of skeletal/joint problems, and slightly increase the risk of some cancers later in life. More statistics are needed, but at this time we recommend considering delayed neutering large-breed male dogs (expected to reach an adult weight of 60 pounds or more) until 12-18 months of age IF the following criteria are met:
    • The dog is adequately confined to prevent unwanted breeding and “roaming”
    • Unwanted behavioral problems (urine marking, aggression, “humping”) do not become apparent.
  • We continue to recommend spaying female dogs at 5-6 months of age. While the data concerning early neutering also applies to female dogs, other risks of not neutering (increased incidence of mammary cancer and the challenge of maintaining a female dog in heat) continue to favor early spaying at this time.

Dental Care: Healthy adult dogs should receive their first prophylactic dental cleaning starting at 3 years of age for small breeds and 4 years for medium and large breeds.

Permanent Identification:  We recommend that a microchip be placed under your pup’s skin to help ensure that she is rapidly returned to you if ever lost.  This can be done at the time of spaying/neutering if being done at 5-6 months of age, or can be done at one of the early puppy visits in animals where neutering is going to be postponed.



House Training: House training may be the most important behavior to teach a new puppy who will live indoors. Not being house trained is a common behavioral reason that dogs are relinquished to shelters. Other behavioral reasons for inappropriate elemination include separation anxiety, urine marking, submissive urination, or excitement urination. These reasons are not related directly to learning, but to anxiety, fear, or emotional arousal. We recommend the house training guidelines laid out in Puppy Start Right: Foundational Training for the Companion Dog.

  • Prevent accidents from occuring
  • Reward elimination in appropriate areas
  • Anticipate when a puppy needs to eliminate
  • Know what to do when accidents happen
  • Clean soiled areas

Chewing/Biting Behavior: Chewing, shredding, and biting are all species appropriate behaviors. While we don’t necessarily enjoy them, they are absolutely normal ways for puppies to learn about their world and dogs to satisfy natural behaviors. To help our pups be succesful in our world, we need to provide them with appropriate outlets to engage in these behaviors and recognize that overexcitement, fear and arousal can also be contributing factors. Here is an excellent video from Kikopup about managing biting behavior in your puppy using positive reinforcement.

Socialization: Socialization is a huge topic and is the process through which animals learn what is safe/normal, and what is unsafe/ abnormal. Socialization is not just interacting with other dogs or people, and is more than simply exposure. It is important to pair these experiences with positive reinforcement and without causing stress or discomfort. Puppies are in a critical window of socialization starting around 6 weeks of age and this window begins to close between 12-16 weeks of age. A qualified positive reinforcement trainer will be able to help your pup build resiliency and confidence during this period. Puppies are not blank slates! Maternal experiences, prenatal or neonatal conditions, and genetics all factor into an individual puppy’s development. Thoughtful socialization will help a puppy have a better opportunity to live a behaviorally healthy life. Fear Free Happy Homes has a great socialization bingo card to help you on your journey!

Note that we strongly encourage you to work with a science based, positive reinforcement, trainer for “Puppy Classes,” training help and strategic socialization.

Pet Health InsuranceNow is the time to investigate Pet Health Insurance if you have any interest, before your puppy develops any pre-existing conditions, which are excluded from coverage “life-long.”  The website, petinsurancereview.com is an excellent resource to investigate insurance options.

FVH Canine Parasite Detection and Prevention Guidelines


·         INTESTINAL PARASITE DETECTION (Fecal microanalysis)

  • Puppies- Test at initial puppy visit and again at 6-18 months of
  • Adult Dogs- Annual fecal analysis recommended for all patients.
    • Analysis should be done whenever abnormal feces or unexplained weight loss
    • Dogs that frequent a boarding kennel, play facility or dog park should be tested regularly or as required by the
    • Pets on parasite prevention products should still be fecal tested annually to detect Giardia, Coccidia, and other less common parasites that are not cleared by current prevention products.
  • Pet guardians should provide a fresh sample in a baggie or small container; generally, a grape sized sample is sufficient. Results are available within 1-3 business days.

·         HEARTWORM DETECTION (Blood testing)

  • Puppies- Initial testing at 6 months of age as it takes at least 6 months for a dog to test positive after they have been infected. They should then be tested again 6 months later to ensure they are heartworm free.
  • Adult Dogs- Annual testing is recommended and should be performed prior to starting a heartworm preventative.

·         PREVENTION (Deworming and Parasite Prevention Products)

  • Puppies- Prophylactic deworming for intestinal parasites at 2, 4, 6 and 8 weeks of age, then deworm monthly until 6 months of age.
  • Adult Dogs- Year round use of parasite prevention products to treat/prevent fleas, ticks, heartworm and intestinal parasites is recommended for all dogs (accomplished using a combination of Credelio and Interceptor Plus, or using Simparica Trio alone).


Common parasites to our area (Heartworm disease is not yet common in our area, but is an increasing concern and testing/prevention is recommended):

  • Fleas/TicksTreat monthly with Simparica Trio or Credelio, orally. All pets in the household should be treated year-round as our winters are not harsh enough to suppress flea and tick populations. Infestation may lead to allergic dermatitis, anemia, itching and, in rare cases, serious disease for companion animals. Severe infestation may also require treatment of
  • Roundworms- Primary route of infection is via mother at birth, direct ingestion via the environment or ingestion of infected vertebrate host. Children and individuals with suppressed immune systems at higher risk for transmission and can lead to serious medical
  • Coccidia- Protozoa with primary route of infection coming from contaminated environment or ingestion of contaminated host; People are not considered at risk for transmission. To prevent do not allow ingestion of wild animals and solicit only properly cleaned pet
  • Tapeworms- Various species are prevalent and infection typically via ingestion of fleas or contaminated host. Can be a zoonotic, although rarely causes serious human medical
  • Giardia- Differing forms affect cats, dogs and people with transmission between groups not currently demonstrated. Infection is through direct fecal-oral contact with cysts or contaminated water source/environment.
  • Heartworm- Transmitted via mosquito and is a serious and potentially fatal disease which affects dogs, cats, and ferrets, as well as other mammal species. Heartworm disease causes lasting damage to the heart, lungs and arteries and can affect the dog’s health and quality of life long after the parasites are gone. For this reason, early detection and prevention are by far the best option. More information can be found at the American Heartworm Society.