Caring for your puppy

Puppy Care and Feeding

Congratulations on the new addition to your family! Your puppy will give you years of joy and companionship; in return you will provide your pet with the highest quality of life you can. Vaccinations and proper nutrition are essential for your puppy’s health.

Canine Vaccinations

  • DHPP = distemper, hepatitis,  parainfluenza, parvo virus
  • Leptospirosis =  recommend if potential exposure-please consult with your veterinarian
  • Rabies = required for all pets
  • Bordetella = Kennel Cough (k9 Cough)
  • Lyme Disease = recommend if potential exposure
  • Giardia vaccine = recommended if exposure

Puppy Distemper vaccines usually start when your puppy is 6-8 weeks old. If the maternal protection is in question (a stray or abandoned puppy) then it is best to start vaccines immediately. The distemper vaccine is repeated every 4 weeks until your puppy is 18 weeks old.

A puppy’s first Rabies shot is given when it is 12-18 weeks old. RABIES VACCINES ARE REQUIRED BY MARYLAND LAW. After a dog is 1 year old, a 3 year vaccine is available. Due to the rabies epidemic, we recommend vaccinating your pet every 2 years if it is not a high risk animal. If your pet is used for hunting or allowed to run outside unattended, it is a high risk animal and should have a rabies vaccination every year.

If you will be boarding your pet in a kennel or taking it to a groomer we do recommend the Bordetella vaccine. It will protect your pet from the most common virus that causes kennel cough. This vaccine is given every 6 months.

Lyme disease is spread to animals by a tiny tick called the “deer tick” in this area. Cases of the disease in dogs may be up to ten times that in humans. The clinical signs are fever, lack of appetite, and lameness. The vaccine approved for dogs is given in 2 doses at a three week interval. If your dog is frequently in wooded or grassy areas and you have seen a deer tick we recommend a blood test to be sure it is free of disease prior to starting the vaccine series. Once your pet has completed the full series of vaccinations it should receive annual boosters to maintain it’s protection. We will send you reminders in the mail.

Giardia is a parasite that causes sever intestinal disease and is potentially contagious to people.  We recommend this vaccine for animals exposed to ponds and streams that are potential sources of the parasite.


What to Feed

We recommend a diet combining canned and dry foods. Puppy’s should be fed a puppy formulation food for their first 6 months, unless they are a large or giant breed. Puppy foods have higher protein vitamin and mineral levels than adult foods. These higher levels enable puppies to grow strong bones and muscles rapidly. We do not feed larger breeds puppy food because if they fill out and grow too rapidly, it may result in health problems (i.e. bone disease). When your puppy is approximately 6 months old you may then feed it adult food since it will no longer require the higher levels of nutrients.

We do not recommend the routine feeding of soft moist foods. They are very high in preservatives and calories but are very low in nutritional value.


Puppies Adults
Science Diet Growth Science Diet Maintenance
Iams Eukanuba Iams Mini Chunks
Max Puppy Max Dog
Pro Plan Puppy Formula Pro Plan Adult Formula
Natural Life Natural Life


Please inquire about other foods with our trained staff. Science Diet may be purchased at our hospital. The other diets may be purchased at local pet supply stores.

How to Feed

It is not recommended that you leave food out all day. “Ad Lib ” feeding should be avoided. Dogs will over eat out of boredom and this can lead to obesity. A regular feeding schedule will help avoid this problem and will also make it easier to housetrain your new friend.

Puppies 6 weeks to 6 months should be fed 3 times a day. They should be fed 2 times a day from 6 months to 1 year. Once your puppy is 1 year old, and for the rest of it’s adult life, you should feed the daily amount of food in 2 half size feedings.

Clean fresh water should be available to your pet at all times. Change the water each time you feed your dog. Monitor your pets water intake- sudden increases or decreases may indicate a health problem. Milk is not recommended. Cow’s milk is very different from dogs milk and ca cause severe diarrhea.

If you plan on exercising your dog vigorously, withhold food and large amounts of water for approximately 1 hour before the workout. If large amounts of food and water are in the stomach during vigorous exercise, it may cause a severe problem.

We do not recommend giving your dog bones or rawhide. If swallowed they could cause a blockage in the intestines. We do recommend Budabones or CET Chew Bones for your pet’s chewing enjoyment. If you want to give your puppy/dog taste treats you can include cottage cheese, cooked eggs, or vegetables in the regular food. For occasional in- between meals snacks you can give your pet treats of Iams Dog Biscuits. These snacks will also keep the teeth clean and the breath fresh. We strongly recommend Pet Tabs (a balanced vitamin supplement), Nutriderm ( a oil supplement with vitamins), is recommended for dry skin and coat problems.


Heartworm is a major health problem in this area. Mosquitoes transmit the disease when they bite your dog. Prevention is very easy- medication which is given daily or monthly, depending on the medication. Treatment however, is very complicated and requires hospitalization. Once a year we check a blood sample to make sure your pet is free of this parasite.

Bathing and Grooming

Puppies under 16 weeks old should not be bathed unless it is necessary. If a bath is required, use a very gentle shampoo. We have a wide variety of high quality shampoos. Bathe your pet no more frequently than once a month unless specifically stated by your veterinarian. Make sure your pet is kept warm until it is thoroughly dry.

Nails should be trimmed regularly. If you can hear nails clicking on the floor, it is time to trim them. Please use nail clippers which are designed for dog nails. People nail trimmers will not work properly.

Long hair dogs do need to be brushed frequently to remove mats and loose hair. Mats most commonly form behind the ears, on the feet, and on the underside of the animal. When long hair gets wet it is more likely to mat than short hair. When your long hair dog is dry, after a bath, make sure you thoroughly brush out the coat.


Fleas are a part of the environment. They are extremely mobile and can rapidly infest a house. The flea products available in stores are generally not as strong as those available through our office. We highly recommend the use of Program, Revolution, Advantage,  and or Front-line for flea control.  Permethrin sold at pet stores can be toxic.


Most puppies are born with one or more types of intestinal worms. Not all types of the worms are visible to the naked eye. We test a stool sample to detect worm eggs. Intestinal worms should not be confused with heartworms. Tapeworms are commonly seen in feces. They appear as flat, thin, white worms crawling freely out of the rectum. They may also have dried and gotten stuck to the fur. We carry a specific de-wormer for tapeworms. Roundworms resemble spaghetti and may also be seen in the stool. Intestinal worms are contagious. Your dog can pick them up just by walking in the grass. Even if you do not see worms in your pet’s stools, it may still have worms. Please bring in a stool sample every 6 months. We will send you reminder cards in the mail.

Due to public health concerns about worm transmission to people-we recommend all puppies be de-wormed three times -even if the fecal sample tests negative.

Preventive Health Care

We should see your dog once a year for a physical, a heartworm test, and to update it’s vaccinations. Twice a year we should check a stool sample for intestinal worms. If you have any questions or problems, please feel free to call us. We will be happy to discuss them with you.


Puppies tend to urinate and defecate when they wake up and shortly after eating. Therefore, you should take it outside after eating or sleeping. If the puppy has a bowel movement, praise it and allow it to roam in the house for about 2 hours. Then take it outside again. If it does not defecate this time, keep it on the leash in the house, and keep the puppy with you. You can tie the leash to you so that your hands are free. Take the puppy out every hour for 3 to 5 minutes until you have success. Do not punish it for urinating or defecating in the house unless you catch it in the act. If you do, use an instructive command like, “Outside, Outside” as it begins to squat. Avoid any strong reprimands. If you do not witness the housesoiling, ignore the mess and do not clean up while the puppy is present. Punishment after the fact can exacerbate the problem by making the puppy anxious over the presence of feces or urine. The puppy does not understand that the punishment is for the act unless it is reprimanded instantly.

If you want to paper train, or if you cannot be with the puppy to supervise it’s actions, confine it to a room that is covered with newspaper. This will eliminate any damage until training is successful. Put a bowl of water, food bowl, and bed at one end of the room. Slowly start decreasing the amount of paper on the floor, starting at the end where the living arrangements were made, and ending days later at the opposite end of the room. Dogs naturally, will try to go as far away from their food and bedding as possible to eliminate.

Do not expect a puppy to hold things overnight. For the first few days, set your alarm clock to get up every 4 hours to walk the puppy. Then try every five hours, six hours, etc.

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