Puppy Healthcare

Preventative Health Care for Your Puppy


We typically worm our puppies beginning at 2 weeks of age. We initially worm using Pyrantel pamoate (commonly known as Nemex, Strongid, or Deworm). This wormer is effective against roundworms and hookworms. Almost all puppies are born with roundworms. If a fecal check indicates other worms not treated by Pyrantel, such as whipworms or tapeworms, we will treat with the appropriate wormer for these conditions. By 8 weeks of age, we have typically resolved any worms that the puppies may have had. However, your vet may still recommend additional wormings, and will want to do a fecal check.


Most veterinarians recommend that a puppy receive its first shots between 6-8 weeks of age. The first shot, often abbreviated DA2PP or DHPPV, is the first in a series of combination vaccinations. The DA2PP shot protects against Canine Distemper, Adenovirus/Hepatitis (two types), Parvovirus, and Parainfluenza. (Some vets may recommend a combo shot that only has Distemper and Parvovirus.) Puppies will receive a combo shot every 3-4 weeks until they reach approximately 16 weeks of age. After receiving the first puppy shot, subsequent shots may also include protection against Coronavirus (not common in Cincinnati) and Leptospirosis (considered to be on the rise in Cincinnati), a bacterial infection acquired from exposure to the urine of wildlife such as deer, raccoons, opossums, and rodents. Once all combo vaccinations have been administered, your dog should not require more vaccinations until 1 year from the date that the last vaccine in the puppy series was given. Depending on your veterinarian’s policy and the type of vaccinations your dog requires, you will need to do follow-up vaccinations either every year or every 3 years thereafter. Alternatively, you may consider doing titer testing in lieu of vaccination boosters for certain diseases. For more information on titer testing, click here.

Sometime between the ages of 12 and 16 weeks, your veterinarian will administer a Rabies vaccination. This is a requirement for all dogs in most counties and states. Your puppy will not need to receive another Rabies vaccination for one year. After the 1 year Rabies vaccination is administered, most counties/states accept follow-up Rabies vaccinations every 3 years thereafter.

If you intend to take your puppy to obedience school, the kennel, the dog park, or the groomer's, you will want to let your vet know. He or she will most likely recommend a vaccination for a disease called Bordatella. This vaccine offers partial protection against kennel cough, a very contagious upper respiratory infection. While this shot does not guarantee that your puppy won't catch kennel cough, it may significantly lessen the severity and duration of the disease. The Bordatella vaccination may be given intranasally (up each nostril), orally, or as an injection, depending on your veterinarian’s recommendations. Finally, depending on your location, your vet may recommend a vaccination against Lyme disease. Rather than giving a vaccination for this disease, which is spread by deer ticks, we recommend using an effective flea and tick preventative such as Bravecto, an oral product that is effective for 3 months or more, or Seresto, an collar that is effective for up to 8 months.You should plan to make sure your puppy has completed his or her vaccinations before introducing him or her to other dogs whose health and vaccination status is unknown.

Heartworm Preventative

Heartworm is a serious disease in the dog that can be fatal unless treated, and even if treated, some dogs do not survive the treatment. It is spread by mosquitoes that infect a dog with larvae (immature worms) when they bite and feed. The larvae circulate in the dog’s bloodstream and take ~6-7 months to mature. Once they become adults, heartworms travel to and lodge in the heart. Left untreated, they cause the dog to go into heart or respiratory failure. Heartworm disease can be prevented by giving your puppy a medication once a month. These medications, such as Heartgard, Iverhart, Sentinel, and Revolution, are given at minimum during the times of the year when mosquitoes are present in the environment (begin at least 1 month prior to the start of mosquito season). However, manufacturers and most veterinarians recommend giving heartworm preventative year-round to ensure complete protection, especially since mosquitoes can be active during the winter if the weather warms up. Keep in mind that heartworm preventative is only effective at preventing disease when the dog is infected with larvae. Heartworm preventative requires a prescription from your veterinarian, who will recommend doing a yearly blood test to verify that your dog is not already infected with adult heartworm. You can begin heartworm preventative for your puppy as early as 6-8 weeks of age. Your vet may even be able to provide you with a free sample for your puppy’s first dose - it doesn't hurt to ask! For more information on heartworm disease, click here.

Flea & Tick Preventative

We recommend products such as Frontline Plus (Fipronil + (S)-methoprene), Advantage, Bravecto, and Seresto for flea and tick control. Other flea & tick preventatives containing permethrin, such Biospot or Hartz spot-ons may be acceptable for flea and tick prevention in dogs older than 12 weeks, but are more harsh and often are not as effective for flea control. Be aware that permethrin-based products may be irritating to the skin of some dogs and may cause severe reactions in others. Cats should never come in contact with permethrin-based products.

Frontline is probably the best-known flea and tick preventative and has been on the market for a long time. When applied correctly, Frontline is very effective at killing fleas & ticks, is less likely than other products to cause adverse side-effects, and may be used on puppies as young as 8 weeks of age. Frontline comes in an applicator that is used to apply the preventative solution in between the shoulder blades of the dog. The fur is parted so that the solution comes in contact with the dog's skin. The solution will spread across the dog's body and remain active for approximately one month. You must wait 48 hours after application before bathing your dog or getting your dog wet for the treatment to be effective. In the Midwest, it is generally recommended to treat your dog from March through November. Talk to your veterinarian to find out what recommendations are in your area. For more information on the flea life cycle, treatment, and prevention, click here.

Spaying or Neutering

If you do not intend to breed, show, or trial your beagle, we recommend that you spay or neuter your puppy no earlier than 5 months of age and ideally between 6-9 months of age. Research into when to spay or neuter and the impact this has on a dog's health is beginning to yield new information on this topic, so we may revise our recommendation in the future.

A Suggested Timeline for Vaccinations & Worming:

 Age Recommendation    Milestone
 2 wks 
 First worming with pyrantel Puppies are just opening their eyes.
 3-4 wks
 Worming with pyrantel
 Puppies are introduced to a gruel of puppy food mixed with water.
 Puppies begin to take an interest in one another.
 6 wks
 Worming with pyrantel
 Begin heartworm preventative
 Puppies are becoming very responsive to sights and sounds.
 Character and personality are becoming more apparent.
 8 wks
 First combo vaccination (DA2PP)
 Fecal check
 Start flea/tick prevention
 Puppies are old enough to go to new homes.
 Puppies may begin to become fearful and startle easily; therefore, it is important to be reassuring and make new experiences and interactions positive.
 12-13 wks
 Second combo vaccine (DA2PP)
 Discuss with your vet whether or not your puppy will also need Leptospirosis*, Coronavirus, Lyme, or Bordatella vaccinations.
 Puppies are showing better bladder and bowel control and are usually fairly well potty trained by this point (although accidents may still happen on occasion.)
 15-16 wks
 Final vaccinations, including DA2PP and Rabies
 Puppies at risk: Lepto, Coronavirus, Bordatella
 Puppies are learning to understand their rank in the "pack", which includes learning where they fit in with both their humans and other dogs; the next few months will be a critical time to assert calm authority.
 6-9 months
 Spay or neuter
 Puppies are reaching sexual maturity.

* We recommend making sure to vaccinate against all four Lepto serovars: Canicola, Ictero-haemorrhagiae, Pomonas, & Grippotyphosa. Talk to your vet about the appropriate age to begin vaccinations against Lepto. Some sources suggest that this vaccine should not be administered until a puppy has reached a weight of at least 10 pounds. Additionally, certain dog breeds may be more susceptible to adverse reactions, so exposure risk should be carefully taken into consideration prior to vaccination.

Special thanks to Dr. Steven Carbaugh at The Animal Hospital of Delhi Hills, for teaching me most of what I know about preventative health care for dogs.

The Animal Hospital of Delhi Hills

Dr. Steven E. Carbaugh, DVM

1290 Ebenezer Rd.

Cincinnati, OH 45233

(513) 941-2551

Thank you as well to the veterinarians at the Veterinary Wellness Center for continuing my education and offering a holistic view on healthcare.

Veterinary Wellness Center

Dr. Robert Gaston

Dr. Tracy Rauf

9970 Harrison Ave.

Harrison, OH 45230

(513) 367-4111