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Puppy Care

Proper care and training can make a big difference in raising a healthy, obedient puppy.

Puppy Visits

We recommend the initial puppy visit at 7-8 weeks of age. Be sure to bring a fresh stool sample for parasite analysis, along with any medical history that you have.

The doctor will also discuss:

  • General healthcare information

  • Housebreaking

  • Obedience/behavioral training and socialization

  • Heartworm Disease and prevention

  • Vaccination and de-worming schedules

  • Spaying/Neutering

At Westside, we follow the most up-to-date recommendations from veterinary experts regarding vaccinations. The doctor will discuss the diseases for which your pet may be at risk and will customize an appropriate vaccination schedule for your pet. We follow the current recommendation of giving the Distemper vaccine (DHPP for canines and FVRCP for felines) every 3 years once the puppy/kitten series is completed and after a 1-year booster is given.


Vaccinations are typically started at 7-8 weeks of age. Boosters are necessary at three- to four-week intervals until your puppy is at least 15-16 weeks of age, although some breeds should receive an additional booster. We use tiny needles to help minimize discomfort. Proper vaccinations are critical to prevent life-threatening infectious diseases. Common vaccinations include:

  • DHPP: Often referred to as the “Distemper vaccine” for simplicity. Includes Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus. Once the puppy series is completed, boosters are required at one year of age, then every three years.

  • Leptospirosis: A serious bacterial infection affecting the kidneys and liver. Raccoons and rodents are the reservoirs for this infection. Because of the severity of this disease and because the disease can also be transmitted to humans, we highly recommend including Leptospirosis in canine vaccination programs. Once the puppy series is completed, boosters are required annually. The modern Leptospirosis vaccine that we use is extremely safe, and we rarely see vaccination reactions from it.

  • Rabies: Rabies vaccination is required by Indiana law. Puppies should be vaccinated for Rabies at 12-16 weeks of age and then boostered at one year of age. 1-year or 3-year Rabies vaccinations are available for adult dogs.

  • Kennel Cough (Bordetella): Kennel Cough is a highly contagious disease. Although not life-threatening, infection results in a hacking cough lasting 1-3 weeks. Spread is easiest in group settings such as boarding kennels, obedience classes, and dog shows. Vaccination is recommended every 6-12 months for dogs at risk.

  • Lyme Disease: Spread to canines by certain species of ticks. While Lyme Disease is not common in Indiana, exposure to ticks is the risk factor. If you live in/near a wooded area, or if you commonly travel to areas where ticks are a problem (such as the lake on the weekends), Lyme Disease is of greater concern. A two-shot puppy series is required, then annual boosters are necessary.

Heartworm Disease and Prevention

Heartworm Disease is a serious parasite spread to both dogs and cats by the mosquito. While infection can be fatal, heartworm is easily prevented by giving monthly preventative medication. Preventative should be given from May to December and can be started in puppies as young as 6-8 weeks of age. Several preventative options are available.