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The way your puppy perceives his or her first visit to the veterinary hospital will greatly influence the way the puppy will respond here for the rest of its life. Puppies are sensitive to emotional cues from their owners. How you react to new situations tells the puppy how to react as well.

Therefore, you can interpret for the puppy the way it should respond in new or traumatic situations such as this first veterinary visit! To do this, behave in the way you want the puppy to behave when he or she is an adult dog.

For example, if you want a dog that tolerates veterinary visits, even enjoys them, act cheerful and upbeat before, during, and especially immediately after the treatment. If the pup yips or yowls during a procedure, talk to it in a jolly tone of voice until it wags its tail.

DO NOT coddle, coo, make sympathetic noises or soothingly pet the pup, or you will teach him to be worried and concerned, instead of cheerful and matter-of-fact.

This tactic also works in other new situations, such as trips to the park for socializing with children and adults, puppy kindergarten classes or when other dogs or strangers approach.

A dog that is relaxed and confident in any situation is an ideal pet, and an ideal veterinary patient as well. We hope this handout will start us off on the right foot!

BASIC Puppy care
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Many common diseases, including Distemper, are deadly to your dog. During the initial day of nursing, puppies receive antibodies, proteins, against certain diseases from their mother’s milk. These protecting antibodies are gradually lost between 6 and 16 weeks of age. This “passive” immunity protects the puppy during its first few weeks of life, while its immune system is maturing, but, at some point, this immunity fails and the puppy must produce its own, longer-lasting “active” immunity. Vaccinations are used for this purpose. A series of vaccinations are given during this period to stimulate your puppies immune system to produce its own antibodies. As long as the mother’s antibodies are present, they will cause interference and prevent the immune system from responding completely to the vaccines. Vaccination of your new puppy should begin at about 6-8 weeks of age and continue every 3-4 weeks until your puppy reaches 16 weeks of age.

The CORE vaccines that all puppies need to receive are DHPP, Lepto and Rabies.

The DHPP vaccine protects your puppy against a number of viral infections that cause serious threats to your puppies health, including, Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza and Parvo virus. In general, your puppy will receive 3 of these vaccines his/her first year of life. Recent studies have shown that for maximum protection, particularly from the Parvo virus the last “Puppy vaccination” should not be before your puppy is 16 weeks of age. Your puppy will receive a booster vaccination in 1 year and then it the vaccine is given every 3 years thereafter.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that not only causes serious disease in your pet, but can also infect humans as well. Your pet is at risk with one of these organisms when it comes in contact with the urine of wild animals. Every animal that goes outdoors is at risk!! There are many strains of Leptospira. We currently vaccinate against all 4 strains for which a vaccine is available. This is included with in the second and third DHPP vaccine your puppy receives his/her first year of life. It is the given annually thereafter.

The final core vaccine that your puppy needs to receive is Rabies. A rabies vaccine will be given to your puppy, generally, at the time he/she receives its last set of vaccinations at 16 weeks of age. A booster vaccine is given in 1 year and then every 3 years thereafter.

OPTIONAL vaccinations that you may wish your puppy to receive are Bordatella (Kennel Cough) and Lyme.

Bordatella vaccination protects your puppy against a respiratory disease commonly called Kennel cough. This is an infection of the large airways in the lungs resulting in a dry gag-like cough. Your puppy is at risk of this disease when it is around other dogs in close confinement. If your puppy goes to a boarding facility, Doggie-Day-Care, training classes or grooming facilities your puppy should be protected with Bordatella vaccination. This can be given as a “nasal spray” every 6-12 months or as a series of 2 Subcutaneous injections given 2-4 weeks apart and then given annually thereafter. If this vaccine is deemed necessary for your pet, the decision as to which vaccine to be used on your puppy will be discussed with you by a veterinarian or staff member administering it.

Lastly, Lyme vaccination is available to protect your puppy from Lyme disease, a serious bacterial infection that they can get from ticks. So if you will be taking your puppy into the woods, hunting or camping or if you live in a heavily wooded area or deer are known to be in your yard your puppy should be protected with the Lyme vaccination. Your puppy must be 9 weeks of age or older and will receive 2 vaccines the first year, about 2-4 weeks apart the first year. It is given annually thereafter.

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Lyme disease is an infection caused by a type of bacteria called a spirochete. Although originally discovered in the city of Lyme, Connecticut. Lyme disease has now been reported in most states. The disease is more properly called Borreliosis, after the bacterial species that causes it – Borrelia burgdorferi.

Lyme Disease is a serious and life threatening disease. It can cause an array of symptoms, including kidney, heart, skin and neurological disease, abortion, and infertility. The most common signs in dogs are low grade fever (103-104º F), weight loss, and lameness or joint pain, which may shift from leg to leg. Symptoms may occur as soon as 4 days after exposure to an infected tick, or as long as 1 year later. The average incubation period is 1 month.

The deer tick is the most common carrier of Lyme disease in Wisconsin, Minnesota and the eastern coastal states. Recently, other species of ticks such as the lone star tick, the wood tick and insects such as deer flies, horseflies and mosquitoes have been found to carry the disease. Currently these insects are not felt to be important carriers of the disease.

Deer are not the only animals that harbor deer ticks, so pets can pick up Lyme disease whether or not they are in deer-populated areas. The larval deer ticks prefer to feed on small rodents (field mice) that live in grassy or brushy areas, often around the fringes of woods or fields.

The deer tick lives a rather complex life cycle. It develops from an egg to a larvae, larva to a nymph, and finally from nymph to an adult. The deer ticks are among the first ticks to become active in the spring, and they remain active in various stages until the first snows in the fall. All three life cycle stages of ticks can transmit Lyme disease, and all three are very small and difficult to find. They are active almost all year ‘round.

Yes. The bacterium that causes the disease is sensitive to several antibiotics. Doxycycline is the one most commonly used to treat the disease in animals. The length of time needed to treat the disease varies, but three weeks is usually the minimum amount.

Prolonged treatment may be necessary, and relapses and reinfection are common. The earlier the diagnosis of the disease is made, the more successful treatment is likely to be. Even with prompt treatment, however, there can be permanent damage, especially if the infection involved the brain, kidneys or heart. Preventing the disease altogether is a much better alternative than waiting for your pet to pick up the disease.

We recommend vaccination for Lyme disease if you take your dog hunting, hiking, camping or running in fields or woods. We also recommend it if you can see deer or have mice near your house or yard. If you live in a town, city or suburb with no woods or fields nearby, and you don’t travel with your dog, vaccination is probably not necessary.

We also advise the use of tick control products on your pet if he or she has tick exposure. Even if you vaccinate your dog, ticks can carry other serious diseases besides Lyme disease, such as Ehrlichia and Anaplasmosis. Their bites can also become irritated or infected. Prompt removal of any ticks you do find on your dog is also recommended to help prevent exposure to disease.

Conduct thorough tick checks on yourself, your children and your pets after spending time out-doors. This includes time in your own backyard or garden, as well as when camping or hiking in wooded areas. Avoid grassy and marshy woodland areas, and don’t walk barefoot in grassy areas. Wear light colored clothing. This makes ticks easier to find. Tuck pants into boots or socks and wear long sleeved shirts, buttoned at the cuffs.

Ticks do not fly or jump onto their hosts. They wait atop grasses and other vegetation until an animal brushes against them. Then they cling to skin, fur or clothing and will crawl for a time on their host before they embed and feed.

Ticks must be embedded and engorged (not flat) before they transmit the Lyme disease bacteria. Therefore it is important to look for and remove any ticks as soon as possible in order to prevent infection.

Protect yourself and your pets with insect/tick repellants. We have several good, long lasting products available to help you to safely protect your dog or cat from Lyme disease, such as Vectra 3D and Preventic collars.

It is not known at this time whether Lyme disease can be spread directly from animals to humans. Borrelia burgdorferi organisms have been found in the urine of infected animals, however, and it is speculated that urine and feces from birds and rodents may be contributing to the spread of the disease. Certainly infected ticks can carry the disease from animals to people in close proximity. At this time we don’t believe that animal-human transmission is a significant factor in the disease, but caution is advised if you are exposed to an animal which has the disease. Use insect repellents conscientiously, and wash your hands or wear gloves when handling animal wastes or deer carcasses.

Vaccinating for Kennel Cough
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Kennel Cough is the common name for a group of diseases similar to the human cold or flu. Symptoms are fever, swollen tonsils or lymph nodes and a deep, “honking,” keep-you-and-the-dog-up-all-night cough that can take weeks to go away. Although rarely fatal, it can lead to pneumonia in puppies, geriatric pets or those already ill with another disease.

There are several different bacteria and viruses that can cause Kennel Cough. All are very contagious, especially when multiple dogs are in the same room together. When a sick dog coughs or sneezes it sprays the infectious virus or bacteria particles into the air, where they float around and are inhaled by another dog across the room or in the cage next door. It can also be spread by touching noses, sharing food or water bowls, or sniffing around where a sick dog has been.

The most common cause of Kennel Cough is a bacteria named Bordetella bronchiseptica. The vaccine for Bordetella is a nasalgen, or nose drops, and it gives quick and effective immunity for 6-12 months. Parainfluenza is a viral cause of Kennel Cough. There are two strains of parainfluenza vaccine contained in the DHLPP vaccine that most dogs receive annually. Some Bordetella vaccines contain extra parainfluenza vaccine as well.

There are also some less common viral causes of Kennel Cough for which we have no vaccine, so even a vaccinated dog can occasionally contract the disease.

All boarding kennels require that dogs be vaccinated against Kennel Cough. Some require Bordetella vaccination be given within the previous 6 months to keep immunity high. Many veterinary clinics require vaccination before elective surgeries to prevent the spread of disease in the hospital. The last thing your pet needs after major surgery is a fever and a cough!

Most groomers do not require Bordetella vaccination, but they should. Multiple dogs in and out of one room are the ideal breeding ground for infection. Your pet should also be vaccinated if your dog goes to obedience or training classes. Even sitting in the waiting room of the veterinary clinic, or entering the clinic for dentistry, x-rays or other procedures, puts the pet at risk for contracting this annoying disease. Only pets confined to their own house or yard have no risk of catching Kennel Cough.

As with most diseases, prevention is easy and cost effective. Be sure your pet is vaccinated!