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Preventative Health Care

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When a baby puppy is born, its immune system is not yet mature; the baby is wide open for infection. Fortunately, nature has a system of protection. The mother produces a special milk in the first few days after giving birth. This milk is called “colostrum” and is rich in all the antibodies that the mother has to offer. As the babies drink this milk, they will be taking in their mother’s immunity. After the first couple of days, regular milk is produced and the baby’s intestines undergo what is called “closure,” which means they are no longer able to take antibodies into their systems. These first two days are critical to determining what kind of immunity the baby will receive until its own system can take over.
How long this maternal antibody lasts in a given puppy is totally individual. It can depend on the birth order of the babies, how well they nursed, and a number of other factors. Maternal antibodies against different diseases wear off after different times. We DO know that by 16-20 weeks of age, maternal antibodies are gone and the baby must be able continue on its own immune system. While maternal immunity is present in the puppy’s system, any vaccines given will be inactivated. Vaccines will not be able to “take” until maternal antibody has sufficiently dropped. Puppies and kittens receive a series of vaccines ending at a time when we know the baby’s own immune system should be able to respond. We could simply wait until the baby is old enough to definitely respond as we do with the rabies vaccination but this could leave a large window of vulnerability if the maternal antibody wanes early. To give babies the best chance of responding to vaccination, we vaccinate intermittently (usually every 2-4 weeks) during this period, in hope of gaining some early protection. When a vaccine against a specific disease is started for the first time, even in adult animal, it is best to give at least two vaccinations. This is because the second vaccination will produce a much greater (logarithmically greater) response if it is following a vaccine given 2-4 weeks prior. Hypoglycemia is a syndrome that occurs primarily in toy breeds (such as Chihuahuas, Yorkshires, Maltese, Toy Poodles and Pomeranians) between 6 and 16 weeks of age. Toy breed puppies are less able to store and mobilize glucose. Also toy breed puppies have more brain mass per body weight compared to other breeds and there fore need more glucose for brain function. A hypoglycemic attack is often flowed by stress, the typical signs are listlessness, depression, staggering gait, muscular weakness, and tremors- especially of the face. Puppies with a severe drop in blood sugar develop seizures or become stuporous and go into a coma. Death can follow. This particular sequence of symptoms is not always seen. For example, some puppies exhibit only weakness or a wobbly gait. Occasionally a puppy who seemed just fine is found in coma. Episodes of hypoglycemia often occur without warning-for example, when a puppy is stressed by shipping, or a new environment. Other common causes of acute hypoglycemia are missing a meal, chilling, becoming exhausted from to much play, or having an upset stomach. These events place an added strain on the energy reserves of the liver. 



The treatment of an acute attack is aimed at restoring the blood sugar. Begin immediately. If the puppy is awake and able to swallow, give corn syrup mixed with water or sugar water by syringe, or rub corn syrup, honey, or glucose paste on the gums. You should see improvement in 30 mins. If not call your vet. If the pup is unconscious, do not give an oral solution because it will be inhaled. Rub corn syrup, honey or glucose on to the gums and proceed at once to your veterinarian.



Susceptible puppies should be feed at least four times a day. It is important to feed a high carbohydrate, high protein, high fat diet. It is essential that the diet be high quality. Food supplements (TREATS !) and table scraps should not exceed 5 to 10 percent of the total daily ration. Owners of TOY and Small breed puppies should take precautions to see that they do not become excessively tired or chilled. Many ( but not all) puppies outgrow this problem.


A Chilled Puppy:

Puppies over the age of 5 weeks are better able to regulate their body temperature, but some may still need the warming from a heat source. If you see your puppy had gotten wet or was out in the colder weather it is important to get the body temperature back up. The fastest and easiest way after drying the puppy with a towel is to place the puppy next to your skin to warm it up. You may also place the well wrapped heating pad in the cage, be sure to have space for the puppy to move away from the heat when he feels he is warmed. Puppy cages should be placed in an area away from chilled drafts.


Dental Disease:

Dental disease is the most common problem diagnosed in veterinary clinics. Studies show that even by age three, 80% of dogs exhibit signs of gum disease. Dogs who have not received proper dental care can develop significant tartar and plaque buildup and gum erosion as they age and may develop life-threatening complications. DOGS WITH DENTAL DISEASE can shed bacteria into the bloodstream. These bacteria may go to the heart, kidneys, or other organs and cause infections there. Periodontal disease involves inflammation and infection that destroys tissues supporting teeth, including gums, periodontal ligaments and tooth sockets. These dogs are often in pain, which may affect their appetite and cause them to eat less. If the disease is severe, they may lose teeth and even develop bone infections near the affected teeth.


Obesity, Is My Dog Fat?

Obesity may be the number one health problem for domestic pets. And, obesity leads to inactivity, which leads to more obesity and health conditions like heart and liver disease, diabetes, arthritis, and an increased surgical/anesthesia risk. Studies of our pets have shown that a quarter to a third of all American pets could stand to lose weight. As veterinary professionals, even we have trouble keeping a pet with a propensity to be overweight as healthy as we can. 

Plump Pups

Obesity in dogs is unhealthy for more reasons than it is for humans:

  • Bone and joint problems can be caused or exacerbated by obesity.

  • An obese dog may have high blood pressure and is at risk for heart disease and more serious lung conditions. Many times the chest wall of the obese pet is layered with fat, which, because of its increased vascularity (many blood vessels), puts an unbelievable strain on the cardiovascular system.

  • Obesity also plays a major role in liver and kidney disease. Although the pet’s organs remain the same size, his bigger body produces more waste products and toxins for the liver and kidneys to filter out. This increases their workload significantly.

  • In addition, being overweight or obese plays a huge role in cancer, diabetes, reproductive problems, stomach and intestinal problems, and even heat stroke.

  • The obese pet may even be at greater risk when being anesthetized for surgical procedures. Being obese can decrease your pet’s life expectancy and make the life he does have very uncomfortable.



Fleas are called parasites for a reason – they live by biting your dog and ingesting his blood. Your dog’s normal reaction is to scratch or nip at the place he feels a flea bite. If your dog has a large infestation, he will scratch and bite even more. Consider these problems fleas can bring into your life: Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD) If your dog has an allergy to flea saliva, he will have a severe allergic reaction to even one flea bite. Even a few fleas can cause hours and days of intense itching. Flea allergies may lead to redness, crusts, scales and sometimes development of bacterial infection. Many dogs have a characteristic loss or thinning of hair above the base of the tail. FAD is more common than pet owners think. Fleas spread disease A bite from an infected flea can spread disease to your dog and cats. Some of these can also be transmitted to humans; all are serious.

  • HAEMOBARTONELLOSIS is caused by an organism called Mycoplasma and can be transmitted by fleas and ticks. This disease targets and destroys the red blood cells, which are responsible for carrying oxygen. Infection causes depression, loss of appetite, and fever.

  • PLAGUE is caused by an organism called Yersinia pestis. Although the rodent flea transmits the disease, the flea is also found on dogs and cats. Fleas are capable of transmitting the disease for months. Plague occurs in multiple places in the world including the western third of the United States.

  • TYPHUS is caused by Rickettsia typhi but it does not cause disease in dogs and cats like it does in people, who get fever, chills, headache, and general pain. In the United States, it most commonly occurs in California, New York, and the Gulf Coast states.

  • TULAREMIA is caused by Francisella tularensis and can be spread by fleas. Dogs may exhibit only loss of appetite, listlessness, and fever. Cats, puppies, and kittens are more severely affected. Tularemia is also called “rabbit fever.”


Fleas spread parasitic worms Fleas can transmit certain tapeworms. Tapeworms are parasites that can live in your pet’s intestinal tract. They are flat, and consist of a head, neck, and a body made up of a number of segments. The head usually has suckers or muscular grooves that enable the tapeworm to attach itself to the animal’s intestine. Fleas may also transmit another parasitic worm called Dipetalonema reconditum, which invade a dog’s body cavities and connective tissues. At certain stages, D. reconditum can also cause positive results on heartworm tests, although it is not heartworm.
Fleas can cause blood loss/anemia Even though one or two fleas may not take much blood, a large number of fleas can make your pet lose an excessive amount, leading to anemia. This is particularly true for small puppies or kittens, who do not have the blood to spare.
Fleas can bite human family members Flea bites can cause some people to itch just as much as a dog does. Children often have more severe reactions than adults. Flea bites on humans usually appear as raised, reddened bumps on the lower legs and around the waist.


Parasites (worms):

Dogs can host several intestinal parasites that can severely affect their health, and could also infect you and your family. The most common intestinal parasites that infect dogs are species of roundworms and hookworms. Dogs can also acquire whipworms and tapeworms, but these are less common.
Dogs can get roundworms from eating infected feces or prey, and infected mothers can pass roundworm larvae to their pups across the placenta or through their milk as they nurse. Dogs become infected with hookworms by ingesting larvae from a contaminated environment, eating infected prey, or by larval penetration of the skin. If the dam is infected, puppies can become infected as they nurse.

Roundworms live in a dog’s intestines, where they absorb nutrients from ingested food, interfere with digestion, and can damage the lining of the intestine. Animals with mild infestations of roundworms may not show any signs of disease. More severe infestations may cause weight loss, a dull hair coat, and a pot-bellied appearance. Puppies may become anemic and have vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation. Rarely, in severe infestations, roundworms can cause intestinal obstruction. Coughing may occur as the larvae migrate through the respiratory system.

Hookworms attach themselves to the intestinal wall and feed on the dog’s blood. This can rapidly cause anemia. Dogs suffering from a heavy hookworm infestation may have pale gums, weakness, and black, tarry stools. Vomiting, diarrhea, lackluster haircoat, and stunted growth may also occur. In severe infestations, the hookworm larvae migrating through the lungs can cause coughing or pneumonia. Untreated hookworm infestations can result in death, especially in puppies.

DEWORMING – Simple, effective and essential:
Regular deworming of dogs, as recommended by the American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists (AAVP), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC), is vital to protecting both canine and human health. If you’ve recently acquired a puppy, obtain her deworming history and contact your veterinarian to determine whether additional deworming is needed. In addition to regular deworming, schedule annual fecal examinations with your veterinarian. Also, keep your yard and home environment free of feces, which can harbor parasites that sicken both pets and people.


Dropped Puppy Syndrome:

A puppy that has been dropped or even fallen off the couch or chair can have DROPPED PUPPY SYNDROME.
Puppies are small fragile living things. They do not know that if they are on couch and walk off the edge it’s going to hurt. They just want down or may not even be aware that there are edges to the couches or chairs.
Think of it this way .. you’re on the roof of the house and you fall off. Your injury can be from sore in spots to death. It’s just as hurtful to a baby puppy. Just like human babies they are head heavy. Meaning the head would more than likely be the first thing to hit the floor.
Below are just a few of the things to watch for: Loss of consciousness. This may be just a few seconds, minutes, or days. Confusion. Not know where he is. What side is up or down, not knowing his name when called.

  • Walking in circles.

  • Head turning to one side.

  • Walking the edges of a room.

  • Staggering when walking.

  • Seizures

  • Vomiting

  • Drooling

  • Mouth closed tightly

  • Rapid eye movements

  • Dilated pupils

  • Rigid Extension of Legs (stiff legs)

  • Loss of muscle control on one side of body.

Peeping or pooping and not knowing this is happening.
All of these may be and are, from a puppy being dropped or from a injury from a fall.

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