The puppy stage is a whirlwind that flies by too fast. We will do our best to prepare you for this exciting phase of life.

Parasite Prevention

It is necessary to be on flea and heartworm prevention year round.  Even indoor only animals are exposed to fleas that come inside on our shoes and mosquitoes that fly in through doors and windows.  Heartworms are spread by mosquitoes.  It is life threatening to have and life threatening to treat heartworm disease.  It is much cheaper to prevent heartworms than to treat them.  We can help you choose the product(s) that is best for you and your pet.  Heartworm testing is done initially at 6 months of age and then every year prior to their heartworm prevention refill.  Let us know if ticks are a problem in your area or if they will be going to the woods regularly as part of their lifestyle.  Intestinal parasites are very common in puppies. We need two negative fecal screenings to be confident they are free of intestinal parasites.  We will do regular dewormings as needed.  Some intestinal parasites are contagious to humans. Fleas can also carry diseases that are contagious to humans.

Yearly Vaccines Based on Their Lifestyle

Puppies receive a series of vaccines. They receive a series to allow the body to have ample time to build adequate protection from the diseases. The vaccine schedule is designed to overlap the maternal antibodies your puppy naturally receives from the mother. Vaccines are started ideally at 6 weeks of age and boostered every 3 weeks until completed.  The vaccine series is typically completed by 16-18 weeks of age, depending on what vaccines they are receiving and when the series was started.  Canine Influenza has become a threat in Huntsville, Alabama.  Any dog that comes into close contact with other dogs to be exposed to their respiratory secretions (such as with boarding, grooming, puppy classes, daycare, dog parks, or high traffic pet areas) is at risk to contract Canine Influenza.  Green Cove Pet Hospital carries a vaccine that covers both viruses involved, H3N2 and H3N8.

Socialization and Training

The first 16 weeks of your puppy’s life will greatly impact how they act as adults. During this time, it is critical to socialize them with other animals, humans, and environments. Now is the time to make anything that seems scary as positive as you can. Controlled socialization with animals that you know are healthy and vaccinated is preferred during the vaccine series. Puppy classes are available but we urge you to wait until they have had most, if not all, of their vaccines before starting. Some training options are Huntsville Obedience Training Club, Muttley Manners, or even Petsmart.

At home you can start leash and kennel training right away. The Gentle Leader is a great tool to help with leash training, most include an instructional DVD. Even if your puppy isn’t going to stay in a kennel it is good to get them acclimated prior to any emergency boarding or day care situations. You can also start playing with their ears and paws. This will help then get used to ear cleanings and nail trims.

Nutrition and Dental Care

Depending on the size and age of your puppy you can feed 2-3 times a day. The amount will increase with the growing size of your puppy. We recommend Hill’s Science Diet Healthy Advantage or Purina Pro Plan Puppy food for the first 12 months of life.  Meal fed dogs are statistically less overweight than grazers. Meal feeding can be done by putting the food down only for 20-30 min at each meal time. They will adjust to eating when food is available.  Zukes and Nutro are both low calorie treat options that are also great for training.  All healthy chewing and at home dental care helps but all dogs will eventually need a dental cleaning.  Studies have shown that 75% of dogs will have some level of dental disease by the age of 3 years old.

Spaying and Neutering

Spaying and neutering between 6-12 months is recommend to prevent sexually mature behaviors (i.e. territorial aggression, marking, roaming, and humping). It also helps to prevent unwanted litters.  In large breed dogs, it is beneficial to wait until closer to 12 months of age to allow for more complete skeletal maturity.  In some pets this is not reasonable because of concurrent illnesses, lifestyle, or behavior. In females, spaying prior to their second heat cycle greatly reduces their risk for breast cancer.  At the time of surgery, their pre-surgical screening will establish their baseline blood and urine values that will help to catch changes early as they age.  This is also a great time to microchip.


Microchipping is the only way to give your pet a permanent piece of identification.  Collars and tags are easily lost.  Without a microchip, 90% of lost pets are not returned to their family.

Please, let us know how we can partner with you in getting your new puppy set up for success.