Health Care for Puppies

Health care for puppies can be a rather daunting task for the new dog owner. From vaccinations and veterinarian visits to diet and exercise, each topic is important for the puppy as well as the owner.

Choosing a Veterinarian

The best place to start when choosing a veterinarian is consulting friends and family with pets. The people you trust are the best source of information when it comes to finding the right veterinarian for you. Phone books will list office hours and services, but it is important to visit the facility and meet with the doctor before making a decision.

When visiting a veterinarians office, look for the following:

  • A convenient location with available parking in case of an emergency
  • A clean and comfortable environment
  • A professional and courteous staff
  • If the facility is a member of the American Animal Hospital Association


Just like babies, puppies are on a vaccination schedule. The following is a general guideline for canine vaccinations:

At six weeks and again at twelve weeks the distemper and parvo vaccines are given. At nine weeks, distemper and parvo are given again. Also, bordatella may also be given if the dog will be groomed or boarded regularly. At sixteen weeks the rabies vaccine can be administered. After the initial year, dog's will receive distemper, parvo, rabies and a heartworm test annually.

Remember, your puppy's vaccinations will differ by where you live and what your dog is exposed to. For instance, a dog who lives outdoors or is boarded regularly may require additional vaccinations. Your veterinarian will determine the proper schedule for your puppy.


Choose a diet that is specifically made for puppies. You can also choose a food that is breed or size specific to meet your dog's needs. Ingredients should be high in protein and calcium to build strong bone and muscle. Puppy foods are labeled with a feeding chart to guide you in how much to feed. Pay attention to your puppy's growth to ensure proper nutrition. It is very important not to overfeed your puppy. Puppies eat 3 to 4 times a day until six months of age. After six months, feedings can be cut back to twice daily. Your dog should have a visible waist with ribs that can be felt but not seen.


Nothing makes a puppy happier than playtime with you. Purchase a well-fitting collar and leash and walk your puppy daily. There are many toys that can stimulate and keep your puppy's attention. Your puppy's toys should be well made and of appropriate size to reduce the risk of choking. If you see that your puppy's toy is beginning to rip, tear or lose pieces throw it away immediately. Remember, never let your puppy have a toy when unattended.


Since puppies love to explore they often get wet or dirty. It is important to keep your puppy clean from a young age so they are comfortable with being brushed and bathed. Choose a shampoo made for a puppy's sensitive skin. Baths can be given outdoors by hose or in your household bathtub or sink. Unless advised otherwise by your veterinarian, it is okay to bathe your puppy whenever he is dirty. Nails should be kept short to avoid scratching you or your furniture. Cutting a puppy's nails can be difficult. Many groomers will cut a dog's nails for a small fee. Brush your dog with a grooming tool best suited for his coat's length. Most brushes are labeled and give instructions on how to groom your dog properly.