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In order to ensure a new puppy's health, it is important to schedule an examination with a veterinarian during the first days that he is in your care.

During that first visit the vet will check the puppy for obvious congenital defects. Most breeders prefer this to be done within 72 hours after the puppy has left their kennel. The vet will ask about the pet's health history, perform a thorough physical examination, give any vaccinations that may be due and look for internal and external parasites.

Many vets take the time to instruct new owners about nutrition and preventive care such as heartworm medication and sterilization surgery.I like to mention spaying and neutering to people because I want them thinking right from day one about having it done.

Preparing for the first vet visit
As soon as you set a date for picking up your puppy, call your veterinarian's office and schedule an appointment for a "new puppy" visit.

For that visit to the vet, bring:

* Medical records, including vaccination history, and health care instructions that came with the puppy;
* Any medications the puppy is currently taking;
* A fresh stool sample;
* The name of or ingredients found in puppy's food;
* Information on where and how your puppy was born and raised;
* A list of questions to ask or issues to discuss.

Shimee at the vets preparing to travel to New York.  12 wks old.

Puppy's Age

Veterinary Visit to Include:


Things to Consider:

6-10 weeks

A baseline physical examination, including:

1. Fecal Examination

2. First Vaccinations for core vaccines:  Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus (DHPP)

Ask your veterinarian if the following non-core vaccinations are necessary:

1. Bordetella (Canine Cough Complex)

2. Corona virus (DHLPPC)

3. Leptospirosis

Non-Vaccine Considerations include flea/tick/heart worm preventatives.

Important: Try to limit exposure to public places and other dogs until the 16-week core vaccination schedule is complete.

( note: Strongly Consider ALL non-core vaccines for hunting dogs such as Lymes, Giardia vax, etc.)

  Important for first year:

1. Be prepared to give your puppy's history (birth date, any vaccinations already received)

2. Discuss core and non-core vaccinations with your veterinarian and establish vaccination schedule.

    Core vaccinations are those vaccinations required by law or needed by all puppies.

    Non-Core vaccinations are optional depending on your veterinarian's recommendation and your pet's lifestyle.

3. Discuss puppy spaying/neutering options with your veterinarian; schedule procedure if possible.

4. Discuss puppy training classes (cost, location, etc.) and begin classes once puppy has completed the core vaccination schedule (usually at 16 weeks) 

5. Find out the clinic's hours, emergency clinic number, etc.  You may want to drive to the emergency clinic to become familiar with its location.

6.  Discuss appropriate flea, tick, heartworm and other parasite preventatives and the appropriate application/administration intervals.





10-12 weeks

Veterinary visit for vaccinations:

1. Second vaccination / booster for DHPP

2. Rabies vaccine (check with your veterinarian on timing, as laws vary among communities)

( note: Strongly Consider ALL non-core vaccines for hunting dogs such as Lymes, Giardia vax, etc.)

Non-Vaccine Considerations include flea/tick/heart worm preventatives.

  Talk to your veterinarian about:

1. Heartworm and flea prevention program

2. If haven't done so already, discuss puppy training classes (cost, location, etc.) 

3.  Now is a great time to puppy-proof your home, including:

-Securely screen all windows

-Securely store poisonous materials

-Keep toilet lids down and doors and drawers closed.  Puppy will be teething and may chew on inappropriate items.  Provide a safe chew toy instead.  Ask your veterinarian to show you how to brush your puppy's teeth.

4.  Appropriate flea, tick, heartworm and other parasite preventatives should be already in place.  Discuss with your Vet. 






14-16 weeks

Veterinary visit for vaccinations:

1. Third vaccination / booster for DHPP

  Now is a great time to introduce grooming and regular dental care.  If you perform at-home grooming regularly, your puppy will get used to it, which will help as he/she gets older.

1. Begin with short, daily grooming sessions

2. Brush your puppy all over including his/her underside

3. Handle your puppy's paws so he/she will allow nails to be trimmed

4. Reassure and praise your puppy as you groom

5.  Appropriate flea, tick, heartworm and other parasite preventatives should be already in place.  Discuss with your Vet. 

Training considerations:

If your puppy has completed the 16-week core vaccinations schedule, you can begin obedience class training and/or puppy agility class.  Talk to your veterinarian about scheduling your dog to be spayed or neutered.







4 to 6 months

Veterinary visit, including:

1. Physical exam for overall development and body condition

2. Dental check-up (most of your puppy's permanent canine teeth have come)

3. Spay or neutering procedure, unless you are a qualified breeder.

4. It is best for male Shimas to be neutered between the age of 4 1/2 monts to 5 months of age.

This will prevent him from ever lifting his leg.  And will make you a much happier owner. SMILE!


Non-Vaccine Considerations include flea/tick/heart worm preventatives.

  Talk to your veterinarian about:

1. Any concerns you have with your puppy's behavior or health and your veterinarian's recommendations

2. Your puppy's weight and how to tell if he/she is getting too heavy

3. When to switch your puppy to adult food

4. How to perform a Rib Check

5.  Appropriate flea, tick, heartworm and other parasite preventatives should be already in place.  Discuss with your Vet. 

Training considerations:

1. Begin obedience class training and/or puppy agility class if you haven't already

About 6 months of age is a good time for  Phase I training program. 


Why these Shots

Rabies vaccines are usually the only ones required by law. It is given between 12 and 20 weeks of age depending on your vet. Due to some concern about over-stimulating the immune system, some clinics will have you come back to get your Rabies vaccine at a time when your pup needs no other vaccines. After the initial shot, boosters are required every 1-3 years, depending on the type of vaccine given.

The vaccine commonly known as Distemper is actually a collection of vaccines given in one shot. It’s technically called the DHPP vaccine: each letter stands for a virus or disease. In this shot, we have Distemper itself, Hepatitis, Parvovirus and Parainfluenza:

  1. Distemper is a virus that causes multi-system abnormalities, and is often fatal.
  2. Hepatitis- this part is actually a vaccination against Canine Adenovirus (CAV) type 2, and also protects against CAV type 1. CAV type 1 is the virus responsible for canine hepatitis.
  3. Parvovirus can lead to sepsis, a blood infection, and is fatal in at least 50% of cases.
  4. Parainfluenza is one of the viruses that causes kennel cough, a respiratory infection. It will clear up by itself, but occasionally leads to pneumonia.

The first three vaccines in that group are core vaccines- they are recommended for all puppies and for dogs with an unknown vaccination history. Parainfluenza is non-core, but is always included in any combination distemper vaccine. Hence, that is the basic makeup of any combination ‘distemper’ shot. Some combination shots include other vaccines that are non-core, meaning they are only appropriate for dogs with more exposure. Those are:

  • Leptospirosis (DANGER!!  The SHIMA'S seem to have a problem with this vaccination.  I have lost (fatal) puppies from giving this shot.  We recommend NOT TO GIVE IT!!! )   is a bacterium caught from infected water, that may cause kidney disease. This vaccine protects against only half of the four types of bacterium, and causes stronger vaccine reactions than most (illness in response to the vaccine, just like if you get slightly sick after a flu shot).
  • Coronavirus can cause severe diarrhea in young puppies (which will clear up on it’s own), but no serious illness. Many vets recommend against this vaccination.

The easy way to know what is included in a combination shot: look at the letters. If the shot is called DHLPP, it includes the Leptospirosis vaccine, and so on. Non-core vaccines are meant only for dogs at higher risk due to greater exposure. Ask your vet about all the options, and figure out what is best for your dog.

The Bordetella (kennel cough or canine cough) vaccine can be administered in 2 ways: a pair of vaccines given 3 weeks apart or by an intranasal (drops placed in the nose) vaccine. This vaccine is given to puppies and dogs that are exposed to other dogs in boarding, public dog park, training and other situations. The vaccine can be given to puppies over 8 weeks of age. Not all puppies require this vaccine- you and your veterinarian will determine if your puppy is at risk for this disease. Keep in mind that the Bordetella vaccine may NOT prevent your dog from getting kennel cough; as with Parainfluenza, it is only one of a number of viruses that cause kennel cough. However, it may lessen the severity if your pup is to come down with a case.

The Lyme Disease vaccine is quite controversial. It is recommended only for dogs in high-risk areas of the country. The vaccine has been known to cause reactions relating to the immune system, but depending on geography, the benefits may outweigh the risks. If you live in a high incidence area and choose not to vaccinate, be sure to ask your vet about a flea and tick prevention program.

De-worming and Flea/Tick/Heartworm Prevention:
The fecal examination will let your vet know if your pup has some type of worms. Most puppies are born with roundworms, and de-worming can start as early as 2 weeks with a breeder, shelter, etc. Your vet will most likely want to administer one de-worming medication at the first visit, and a second with the next round of boosters. After that, discuss and plan for flea/tick/heartworm prevention. There are a number of choices- discuss the options with your vet.

One other consideration in these initial visits is microchipping, which can be performed at the same time as any vaccinations. If you choose this, a microchip is inserted through a needle between the shoulder blades, and you’ll have some paperwork to fill out. Once complete, that microchip is linked a company database with your contact info, so anyone that scans it will be able to return your dog home safely.

This is a lot of information to absorb at once! Being prepared for the first vet visit you and your dog attend will make it a more relaxed experience for everyone. Stay positive with your dog, and future vet visits will be no big deal. Remember, ask questions about anything you are unsure of, and work with your vet to make the best choices for your dog.

And this is Shimee now.  On his desk at work.

Thank you Elaine for this picture.

Great Job by the way!

8 months old.



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