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Your Dog’s Health: The Basics

The first rule in taking care of your dog is: When your dog is sick, take him to a veterinarian! Use with caution advice of friends or people who are supposed to be “old, experienced dog breeders.” Only a veterinarian is qualified to diagnose trouble and prescribe treatment.

However, it is your job to keep your dog from getting sick. Let us assume you start with a puppy. You should know something about “shots”, worm medications, flea powders, and poisons.

While a puppy is nursing, it may receive protective antibodies in its mother’s milk. As soon as the puppy is weaned, this natural immunity will begin to disappear and may be gone within two weeks. Many puppies are susceptible to diseases at this young age. Your veterinarian may prescribe a vaccination program beginning at 6 to 8 weeks, so it is important that you contact him/her immediately.

Distemper, hepatitis and leptospirosis are common and serious diseases which destroy many pets each year. Rabies is also a threat which should be guarded against in rural as well as metropolitan areas because of the possible chance of exposure to bites of infected animals.

The only satisfactory method of protecting your dog is by vaccination. Your veterinarian may want to give your puppy immediate temporary protection at the time of purchase or adoption with a “puppy shot” of antiserum which contains antibodies against distemper, hepatitis and leptospirosis as well as some of the other common diseases. Vaccinations provide long term immunity and most puppies will be started on a series of vaccinations on their first visit to the veterinarian. Booster vaccines are then advisable on a regular basis for adult dogs, to maintain his overall health for years to come.

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