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North Hills Monthly

Ask the Vet: what is the best age to spay or neuter my pet?

Jun 30, 2019 01:06PM ● By North Hills Monthly magazine

By Dr. Carol Fellenstein, Community Medicine Veterinarian

Q: I just adopted a new puppy and am looking forward to spending the long summer days outside with him. We especially like to go camping and to the dog park. What types of vaccines will he need to keep him safe?

A: Congratulations on adopting your new puppy – it sounds like he has a happy and active life ahead of him! It will be important to keep him protected wherever his adventures take him and vaccines will be an important part of that protection. Puppies need to receive a series of vaccines every three to four weeks until they reach 16 weeks. After that, they need to be vaccinated each year. These vaccines can protect against commonly encountered (but preventable!) diseases.

The most common vaccine that puppies receive is often referred to as the DHPP or distemper vaccine. It protects against some of the most common diseases that can affect our dogs. It prevents the spread of distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza and parvo. Sometimes, leptospirosis may be included in this vaccine, which I would recommend for your puppy – especially if he will be spending lots of time outside.

There are two other vaccines that are highly recommended for dogs with active lifestyles. The first is bordetella, also known as kennel cough, which can spread easily through a dog park by sneezing or nose to nose contact. A simple sniff by an infected dog at the park or in the neighborhood can cause an upper respiratory infection in your dog. You can protect him from this preventable illness with the bordetella vaccine.

The last vaccination to consider for the health of your pup is the Lyme vaccine. This helps to protect your dog against a disease spread through the bite of infected ticks. Western Pennsylvania is a high-risk area for Lyme disease because ticks are so prevalent. Lyme disease cannot be cured, it can only be managed with medication which means that once your dog develops the disease, they will have it for the rest of their life. So, prevention is key to maintaining the good health of your pooch. With a Lyme vaccine and a quality flea and tick preventative, you can greatly reduce your dog’s risk.

While an active lifestyle is healthy for your pet and contributes to their overall wellbeing, it can present some challenges. A thorough vaccination program is a great start to maintaining your dog’s health. Be sure to discuss your dog’s lifestyle with your veterinarian. They are the most qualified to answer any specific questions or concerns you may have about your pet.