Congratulations on your New Puppy!
West Chester Veterinary Center is here to help you keep your new family member in optimal health.
Puppies have immunity to disease that is passed on to them from their mothers. Starting around the age of 6 weeks and going until approximately 16 weeks, this immunity begins to wane and their own immune system takes over. After this, they become susceptible to a variety of contagious diseases.
To ensure that your puppy develops a healthy immune system by four months of age, we recommend a series of vaccinations that protect against serious canine diseases. These diseases may cause symptoms such as seizures, pneumonia, liver failure, kidney failure, bleeding into the intestinal tract, and death.
We vaccinate puppies older than 6 weeks every 3 weeks with the last vaccine ideally being after 16 weeks of age.
Our staff is happy to discuss your pet’s specific vaccine needs with regards to their environment and exposure to contagious disease. We will tailor a protocol to your pet based on those needs as well as previous vaccine history.
Puppies should learn the skill of resting quietly in a crate. This will be helpful for housetraining, traveling, and confinement due to illness or injury.
Make the crate a comfortable atmosphere with bedding and a few toys. Introduce your puppy to the crate slowly. At night time, it can be helpful to place your puppy’s crate near the bed, so that they can hear and smell you. Avoid going to the puppy while he or she is making noise in the crate. You want the puppy to discover that nothing bad happens from being in the crate. When the puppy is quiet and calm in the crate, that is the time to go and check on them. Your puppy will soon learn that the crate is a safe and comfortable place to rest.
Puppies sleep for approximately 18 hours per day, so training your puppy to sleep in the crate for this time will help your family rest at night. When the puppy is an adult, he or she can be transitioned to the bed, if desired.
The first element to good housetraining is a reliable schedule. Your puppy needs to be able to count on times when they will be able to relieve themselves. This is helpful so that the puppy does not have to alert you every time they need to go out, which can lead to problem barkers.
The number of hours that the puppy can go without potty breaks is approximately their age in months, plus one. For example, an 8 week (2 months) old puppy can go for about 3 hours between potty breaks. Most puppies will be at least four months old before they are fully housetrained, but small breed dogs frequently take longer.
In the beginning, it can be helpful to take a young puppy out once per hour while you are home. Give your puppy the chance to eliminate before you leave the home and as soon as you get home. Give your puppy a command for elimination and also a reward (praise, treats) after successful elimination. Pay attention to body signals while you are home, and do not let your puppy roam the house by themselves during the housetraining process.
Crates can be a very effective adjunct to potty training. Puppies have a natural instinct to keep themselves clean and will not want to eliminate on themselves. Thus, an appropriately sized crate can help keep the puppy from eliminating when the owner is not present. However, having too much room will allow them to eliminate in one area and rest in another. Size does matter!
Puppies have their most important period of socialization between 6-16 weeks. During this time, puppies exposed to a variety of different people, objects, and environments in a positive manner will be less likely to be fearful of these things as an adult. To a puppy, the whole world is new and everything the puppy encounters is an opportunity to make a positive association.
Remain calm while socializing your puppy to new things. Dogs read our body language very well and know if we are apprehensive. Giving praise or a small treat helps your dog form positive associations with new things and can help your puppy view them as fun and rewarding.
During the first four months of your puppy’s life, he will be susceptible to a variety of infections until the vaccine series is complete. It is appropriate to take him to places with other fully vaccinated dogs, but not to dog parks or stores where he would come in contact with unvaccinated pets.
Spaying and Neutering
Surgical sterilization is a loving choice for your dog if you decide not to breed. Many people think of sterilization as being only for the purpose of preventing pregnancy, but surgery can prevent a number of common medical problems in both male and female dogs.
Female dogs that are not going to be bred should be spayed before their first heat, which occurs at about 6 months. Spaying markedly decreases the incidence of mammary (breast) cancer in female dogs and when done before their first heat, those odds decrease to almost zero. It completely removes the possibility of ovarian and uterine cancer. It eliminates the risk of pyometra, which is an infection of the uterus and can also be life-threatening.
Male dogs that are neutered are protected from testicular cancer and prostatic infections. They are also less likely to exhibit marking behavior, aggression, and wandering away from home.
Both male and female dogs will still be playful, social, and interactive with their owners after a sterilization procedure. Female dogs will generally not have any change in behavior, as the reproductive tract of a female is naturally dormant for most of the year.
West Chester Vet Center would sincerely like to thank you for allowing us to care for your pet! Visit our website at www.wcvetcenter.com