Puppy Health Basics

Give your puppy a healthy start by covering these dog basics.

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Vaccinations
Most veterinarians agree vaccinations are a necessary element of preventive health care.

Why: Puppies are born with weak immune systems and need extra protection from serious and often fatal diseases and conditions.

When: Veterinarians' vaccination schedules vary, but most recommend a program administered several times in the first four to six months (beginning at about 6 weeks of age) to protect against five to seven diseases and conditions. The first rabies vaccine is usually given at 6 months and repeated every one to two years, depending on state law.

Remember: Controversy about vaccines has developed because of negative reactions in some dogs—larly those in poor health. However, most veterinarians agree the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks. Talk to yours if you are concerned about over-vaccination.

Pest Prevention
Formulate a pest control regimen before your puppy comes in contact with a single flea or tick. Heartworms, which can be fatal, also require preventive measures.

Why: Puppies are susceptible to flea- and tick-borne infection and disease because their immune systems aren't fully mature. Left unchecked, fleas can cause tapeworm and/or severe allergic reactions. Ticks can transmit Lyme disease, tick paralysis, anemia and a number of other serious diseases. Heartworms wind themselves into a dog's heart and may cause irreparable damage or death. However, preventive care is usually all your pup needs to be parasite-free.

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