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Puppy care info

Taking Care Of Your New Puppy

Let us help you in taking care of your new puppy! We have all the tips and tricks to make your puppy care the best it can be.

What To Expect When You’re Expecting a Puppy

We’ve got your back. Here’s the breakdown for all the information you’ll need to take care of your new bundle of joy and energy!

6-8 weeks old:
Wellness Exam
Da2pp Booster
Intestinal Parasite Check
Monthly Heartworm Prevention
Monthly Flea and Tick Protection

9-11 weeks old:
Wellness Exam
Da2pp Booster
Intestinal Parasite Check
Monthly Heartworm Prevention
Monthly Flea and Tick Protection

12-15 weeks old:
Wellness Exam
Da2pp Booster
Leptospirosis Booster
Lyme Booster
Monthly Heartworm Prevention
Monthly Flea and Tick Protection

16-18 weeks old:
Wellness Exam
Da2pp Vaccine Annual
Leptospirosis Vaccine Annual
Rabies Vaccine Annual
Lyme Vaccine Annual
Bordetella Vaccine Annual
Monthly Heartworm Prevention
Monthly Flea and Tick Protection

6 months old:
IV Fluids
Presurgical Bloodwork
Additional Pain Meds
Heartworm/Tick Test

1 year old:
Wellness Exam
Da2pp Vaccine: 3 year
Rabies Vaccine: 3 year
Leptospirosis Vaccine: 1 year
Bordetella Vaccine: 1 year
Lyme Vaccine: 1 year
Intestinal Parasite Check
Adult Preventative Screen*
Heartworm/Tick Test
Monthly Heartworm Prevention
Monthly Flea and Tick Protection

Every Year:
Wellness Exam
Leptospirosis Vaccine
Lyme Vaccine
Bordetella Annual
Adult Preventative Screen*
Heartworm/Tick Test
Monthly Heartworm Prevention
Monthly Flea and Tick Prevention

*Dogs 7 years and older receive the benefit of
our ‘Senior Preventative Screen’ a more
inclusive and comprehensive screening process
designed to detect conditions and disorders
more common in older pets.

Vaccine Explanations


Da2pp’ is an acronym for four dangerous or fatal diseases that threaten your canine companion. Canine
Distemper, Canine Adenovirus-2 (Canine Hepatitis), Canine Parvovirus, and Parainfluenza.

Canine Distemper: Canine Distemper is caused by a virus related to measles. It affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems. This disease is highly contagious and is transmitted via airborne droplets from an infected dog. Some symptoms of Distemper include fever, runny nose, and eyes, and may progress to twitching muscles, paralysis, and seizures. Treatments for Distemper include fluid therapy and antibiotics. However, even with treatment, the disease may still be fatal.

Canine Adenovirus-2 (Canine Hepatitis): Canine Adenovirus-2 is a viral disease that can damage the liver, kidneys, spleen, and lungs. Transmission occurs by contact with an infected dog’s urine, feces, or saliva. Symptoms include fever, thirst, runny nose and eyes, vomiting, bleeding, and respiratory disease. Treatment for Adenovirus-2 includes fluid therapy and antibiotics. However, in some cases, a blood transfusion may be necessary. The highest mortality rate is seen in very young dogs.

Canine Parvovirus (Parvo): This disease of the gastrointestinal track is resistant to most disinfectants. Puppies run the greatest risk for Parvo due to an immature immune system. Transmission is primarily by contact with infected dogs or their feces. However, the disease is also present in the soil where infected dogs have resided and remains active and infectious for months to years to come. Treatment includes fluid therapy, antibiotics, and supportive care. A mere 20% of puppies who contract Parvo will survive without quality veterinary care.

Canine Parainfluenza: Canine Parainfluenza is one of the viruses that can cause Kennel Cough. This illness causes symptoms similar to the human Rhinovirus, such as coughing and sneezing. Canine Parainfluenza is highly contagious, and dogs can remain symptomatic anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Although it is non-life threatening – NO ONE likes to get a cold!

Leptospirosis (Lepto)

This bacterial-borne illness can cause disease in the liver, kidneys, and other organs. Your pet becomes exposed to the disease from coming into contact with the urine of an infected animal. This can occur in a puddle, body of water, or a few droplets left on a blade of grass in your backyard. Warning signs of Lepto include fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, and joint and muscle pain. Although there is treatment, including fluid therapy and antibiotics, acute renal failure occurs in 80-90% of dogs who contract the disease. Frighteningly, this is one disease that can be transferred to humans who can potentially experience kidney failure, liver failure, or meningitis.


Rabies Virus is an acute viral brain disease that can infect any mammal, including humans. It is almost always transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. Symptoms of Rabies in pets include sudden significant changes in behavior such as irritability, aggression, fear, unexplained paralysis, and foaming at the mouth. Once clinical symptoms are present, Rabies is always fatal. There is no treatment and no cure! State law requires unvaccinated animals who have been exposed to the virus to be quarantined and/or euthanized ten days after exposure.

Bordetella (Kennel Cough)

Kennel Cough is a highly contagious inflammation of the upper airways. It is transmitted via airborne droplets from infected dogs. Symptoms of Kennel Cough include a harsh, dry cough, often followed by retching and gagging. Kennel Cough can lead to fatal Bronchopneumonia in puppies or chronic Bronchitis in elderly dogs. Treatment consists of supportive care and cough suppressants.

Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease is transmitted through a tick bite and, in severe cases, can be fatal. The most common symptoms are fever, loss of appetite, lethargy, lameness, generalized stiffness, discomfort or pain, and swelling of the joints. Antibiotics can provide relief from some symptoms of Lyme Disease, but once contracted, your pet will always carry the bacteria for the disease, and relapses are always a possibility. Pet owners with a Lyme-positive pet must always look for unexplained fevers, swollen lymph nodes, and lameness.

Treatment Explanations

Wellness Exam

Certain vaccines can be ineffective or even dangerous if your pet is not in good health. For this reason, prior to vaccination, Dr. Ackler will administer a complete, comprehensive wellness exam. He will look in your pet’s eyes, ears, and mouth and listen to their heart and lungs. The Wellness Exam is concluded with a nose-to-tail physical exam to help keep you and your pet safe and happy.

Intestinal Parasite Check

It is very common for puppies to arrive in their new homes with some uninvited guests: intestinal parasites! This unwelcomed infestation can cause your furry family an array of unpleasant symptoms, including diarrhea, weight loss, weakness, and poor general health. Some infestations may have no symptoms, while a severe case of intestinal parasites can be fatal. And, a dog with intestinal parasites might share more than cuddles with you. Many types of parasites can be transferred to humans, where they cause similar medical problems. Children are at an even greater risk as they are more likely to play on the floor, at pet level, with bare feet and hands, making the transfer more likely. Keep yourself and your family safe from these health hazards with regular testing and treatment! Once a pet has tested positive and been treated for intestinal parasites, it is important to have them tested again one month later to ensure the treatment was effective. Severe infestations may require more than one treatment to be cured.

Heartworm Test

Heartworm disease is a potentially fatal condition affecting up to 1 million dogs each year. When a mosquito bites a heartworm-positive animal, she takes in the early life-cycle parasite, which can then be transferred to healthy pets. Once transferred, the larvae grow into adult worm parasites, up to 12 inches in length. These parasites take up residence in the blood vessels of the heart and lungs, denying proper blood flow to and from these essential organs. Common symptoms of heartworm disease are coughing, difficulty breathing, or lethargy. However, dogs who have recently acquired heartworms may show no signs.

Early detection dramatically improves the odds of successful treatment. While late-stage heartworm disease can be survivable, it is risky for your dog and expensive for you! A simple, annual blood test performed by our Veterinary Technician can quickly reveal any signs of heartworm in your pet’s bloodstream. And a monthly preventative in the form of a good-tasting chew is available to dogs as young as 6 weeks old.

Canine Adult/Senior Preventative Screen

With a single blood sample, Dr. Ackler can check the function of your pet’s internal organs, see a glucose level, and check the health of your pet’s red and white blood cells. The Adult Preventative Screen is a powerful tool for increasing your pet’s longevity and quality of life. If your four-legged friend is going to have a condition or disorder that threatens its health, Dr. Ackler will likely see it here long before it shows up as symptoms, allowing you to make diet and lifestyle changes now that will help to avoid acute disease in the future.

When our pets reach the age of “7,” they are considered senior citizens, and additional care must be taken to ensure their health. Our Senior Preventative Screen is similar to our Adult Preventative Screen, however, it provides a more inclusive and comprehensive screening process, along with a urinalysis, designed to detect conditions and disorders more frequent in older pets.

Unfortunately, when it comes to our furry family members, by the time symptoms are present, it is often too late to do anything but treat symptoms and keep them comfortable. The value of having your pet healthy and well is immeasurable, and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


According to the American Humane Association, one in three pets will become lost at some point in their lifetime. Unfortunately, only 22% will be reunited with their family once they reach a shelter. Microchipping your pet dramatically increases this return-to-owner rate and helps ensure a lifetime of togetherness with your best friend.

A microchip, no bigger than a grain of rice, is placed under the skin between the shoulder blades during the insertion procedure. Each microchip has a unique identification number that can be read by a pet health professional using a handheld scanning device. Once registered, this identification number is matched with owner information in a comprehensive database. Microchipping is an inexpensive way to give yourself peace of mind and give your pet a path home!

Spay & Neuter

Over the course of six years, a single female dog and her offspring can produce over 65,000 dogs! Sadly, nearly ten million cats and dogs are euthanized each year due to overpopulation and lack of homes. You can be an important part of the solution by making the loving choice of sterilization. Animals who have been sterilized reap many health benefits, including avoiding certain types of cancers and prostate disease. The procedure encourages a longer, healthier life. It also makes dogs more affectionate companions, reduces temperament problems, and eliminates the mess and stress of a female’s heat cycle.

Why Fecal Checks Are Important

Yearly fecal checks (Intestinal Parasite Checks) are recommended for cats and dogs of all ages. If your pet is positive for an intestinal parasite, it is important to have the stool checked again one month later or after all dewormer has been administered.


Roundworms are very common in puppies as transmission happens in utero or via mother’s milk. Transmission can also occur by ingestion of matter contaminated by the feces of an infected animal. Typical symptoms of roundworm infection include swollen abdomen, diarrhea, and weight loss.


Tapeworm is not passed from pet to pet but rather by ingesting a flea or rodent. The most common intermediate host for Tapeworms are fleas and small animals such as rats, squirrels, rabbits, and mice. Typical symptoms of Tapeworms are digestive upset, poor appetite, poor hair coat and skin, weight loss, and vague signs of abdominal discomfort.


An infection from Hookworm follows consumption of larvae or contact with contaminated soil where the larvae are allowed to penetrate the skin or pads of animals. Hookworms can cause serious skin irritation, internal bleeding, or anemia, sometimes resulting in severe illness or death in puppies or small dogs. Typical symptoms of Hookworms are skin irritation at the penetration site, abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, and lethargy. However, there may be no symptoms at all.


Swallowing infective whipworm eggs in soil or other substances contaminated by dog feces is the most common way your pet contracts this infection. Typical symptoms of Whipworms are diarrhea, vomiting, bloody feces, or poor general health. Massive rectal bleeding is infrequent but can occur.

These are the most commonly diagnosed intestinal parasites. However, pets can also have Coccidia and Giardia in their stool. An annual fecal check is the most important tool for finding and treating intestinal parasites. Keeping your pet on a quality Heartworm preventative year-round can also help prevent dangerous parasite activity.

*People can get Roundworms, Tapeworms, and Hookworms, too!

How to Care For Your Puppy and Keep Them Healthy

Just like the rest of your family, pets need proper nutrition, affection, regular exercise, and good preventative care to maintain good health. Once your dog is past the primary puppy vaccinations, the Annual Physical Exam and Preventative Screenings are the most important things you can do to protect your pet’s longevity and quality of life. Some vaccines, like those for Leptospirosis and Lyme disease, require a yearly booster to remain effective. In addition, you should contact us for an exam if you see any of the following symptoms:

  • Increase/decrease in appetite that lasts more than a few days
  • Unusual discharge from the nose, eyes, or other body openings
  • Unusual behavior, including lethargy or aggression
  • Limping or difficulty getting up or laying down
  • Excessive head shaking, scratching, or licking
  • Foul breath or excessive deposits on teeth
  • Changes in urination or drinking habits
  • Persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Swelling or abnormal lumps
  • Obvious injury or illness

In an emergency, call the clinic immediately at (231) 587-0520.
After hours, a message may refer you to an emergency clinic.

These Unwanted Hitchhikers Are Out For My Blood


Fleas are more than just a nuisance for your pet. They can also pose a serious health hazard! Flea bites can cause Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD), which causes severe discomfort for your pet. Flea bites can also transmit diseases such as:

Cat Scratch Disease

Adult fleas on your pet are just the tip of the “infestation iceberg.” A single female can lay up to 2,000 eggs in her 30 to 90-day lifespan. While eggs, larvae, and pupae can be hard to see, they can be found anywhere in your home where an infested pet has been. Treating all household pets is the key to preventing infestation. Indoor pets are susceptible to fleas brought in from other pets and people. Once you use the first dose of a flea and tick control product on your pet, it might appear that the infestation is getting worse. However, the fleas you find are hatching from the immature flea stages that already existed in the environment. These newly hatched fleas will also perish once they attempt to host on a treated pet.


Various tick species can be found across the country. Some of the most common are the American Dog tick, Black-legged tick, Lone Star tick, Brown Dog Tick, and the Woodchuck tick. An adult female can produce thousands of eggs at one time after feeding and mating. Once her eggs hatch, the larvae begin feeding on the blood of their host. From there, they mature into nymphs before becoming adult ticks capable of transmitting diseases such as:

Lyme Disease
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Tick Paralysis

White-tailed deer and other wildlife can bring ticks right into your backyard, putting your pets at risk! An annual Heartworm/Tick Test can reveal infection by three different tick-borne diseases, including Lyme. If a disease is present, early detection can be key to treatment. Thankfully, prevention is available in oral or topical form to help keep your best friend safe and healthy. Our friendly, knowledgeable staff is here to help direct you to the right product for your family.

Heartworm: a Real and Present Danger


Heartworm disease is transmitted through a mosquito bite. One million dogs are estimated to be heartworm positive in the United States each year. Left untreated, Heartworm disease can be fatal to your dog. Common signs of heartworm disease in dogs are coughing, difficulty breathing, and sluggishness. However, recently infected dogs may show no signs of infection at all. A simple, annual blood test can determine if your pet has acquired heartworm. An effective monthly preventative can help keep your best friend protected.

Methods For Potty Training

There is only one acceptable methodology for potty training a dog of any age: positive reinforcement. Keep in mind, dogs don’t view their waste the way we do – to them, pee and poo are pretty interesting! Punishing your dog for going in the house won’t help them understand what they should do. Instead, it might make them afraid to go near you, inside or out. Successful potty training requires patience, kindness, and remembering that your new puppy is just learning the rules.

Crate training is a great way to start your puppy off on the right paw. Dogs have a natural instinct to keep their den clean, so a properly sized crate introduced gradually will create a home base for your puppy and prevent accidents when you can’t watch them. If you choose a crate that’s too large, your puppy will be able to potty in one corner and sleep comfortably in the other, defeating the purpose of crate training.

While indoor elimination solutions like potty pads and litter boxes have their place, using them can slow the process down if you plan to have your dog use the bathroom exclusively outside eventually. Potty pads work best for people who can’t get their puppy out quickly, like those living in high-rise apartments or with limited mobility.

Setting a Potty Training Schedule

Dogs thrive on a predictable schedule, and setting one up for your new puppy will make life easier for both of you. Feed your puppy at the same times each day to help you predict and schedule bathroom breaks. Schedule post-meal walks and hourly trips outside during the initial stages of potty training.

The general guideline for puppy “hold times” is that each month of age equates to an hour of “hold time,” so a two-month-old puppy can hold it for roughly two hours. There are exceptions to this rule; your puppy should be able to hold it for slightly longer at night as it gets older, and your pup will need potty breaks more frequently when they’re playing.

Tools Needed For Potty Training

  • A properly-sized crate: A crate will keep your puppy safe when you can’t watch them, and it will help them learn to “hold it” because they will want to keep their den clean.
  • A leash: Even if you have a fenced-in yard, take your puppy out on a leash
    so there isn’t the temptation to play instead of potty. A leash will also allow you to be close enough to your puppy to reward them immediately after elimination.
  • Treats: Giving your dog a small treat immediately after they eliminate will teach them that they get rewarded for going in the proper spot.
  • Baby gate: Baby gates are a great way to keep your puppy from sneaking away to other parts of the house unsupervised.
  • Stain and odor remover: Using the right kind of cleaner will prevent your puppy from seeking spots that they’ve already soiled.

One of the easiest ways to prevent accidents is recognizing when your puppy needs to go out. Most puppies will sniff the ground when they’re getting ready to potty, but there are many other signals that happen prior to sniffing. Puppies that pace, seem distracted, or walk away from playing are subtly signaling that they have to go out. If your puppy tries to sneak out of the room, take a potty break right away.

You should always accompany your puppy outside for potty breaks. You’re there not only to ensure that they actually go, but you’re also there to reward your puppy with a treat for going in the proper spot. Wait until your puppy finishes eliminating and immediately give them a tasty reward for a job well done. If you wait until you get back in the house, your puppy won’t make the connection between their elimination and the reward.

It also helps to teach your puppy a “potty phrase” when you take them outside for a bathroom break. A potty phrase is a way to gently remind your puppy what he needs to do when they’re outside. It’s a big help during the potty training phase of puppyhood, and you can continue to use it for the rest of their life. Pick a phrase like “go ahead” or “go potty” and say it softly right as your puppy eliminates. Your dog will associate the phrase with the act of elimination in time, so you can say it when your puppy gets distracted and forgets what they need to do outside.

Sometimes, despite all of your hard work, your puppy might slip up and eliminate in the house. If you catch them in the act, make an abrupt noise to stop them, then quickly bring them outside and reward them for finishing in the right spot (it’s okay if you take them out and they don’t go). Don’t punish your dog for the accident; simply clean it up with an appropriate odor eliminator and watch them more diligently.

How Long Does It Take to Potty Train a Puppy?

Unfortunately, there is no magic length of time or milestone age when a puppy can be considered fully housetrained, and there are many factors that go into how quickly a puppy can be potty trained. Your puppy’s age plays a major role during the initial potty training phase, as a very young puppy won’t have the muscle control necessary to hold it for long periods.

One of the biggest predictors of a speedy potty training process is owner diligence. If you’re on top of your puppy’s schedule and you stick to a strict prevention and supervision regiment, you should be well on your way to potty training success within a few months. You can consider your puppy almost fully housetrained when you’ve gone an entire month without a single accident, but keep in mind that potty training is an inexact science. It’s best to have several dry months before you can really trust that your puppy understands the rules.

Benefits of Crate Training

Crate Training

Dogs are den animals, which means they like to have their own space (den) to rest, take a nap, or hide from unfamiliar things. Even though den animals want to have an area that’s all theirs, it takes some time to get used to a crate, but it will eventually become their safe place!

There are many good reasons to crate train a dog, housetraining being the main reason. Puppies will not usually soil their bed or den. Therefore, if the crate is set up as a resting space, the puppy will wait until it leaves the crate to do its business. Crate training is also helpful in keeping rambunctious dogs when you have company over, during car travels, and for making sure a new puppy or anxious dog is safe and happy at night – i.e., not eating everything within reach, tearing up furniture, or soiling the floors.

Choosing The Right Crate Size

Crate Size
30″x24″ or 30″x30″ or 30″x36″
36″x24″ or 36″x30″ or 36″x36″
42″x30″ or 42″x36″
48″x24″ or 48″x30″

Approximate Weight of the Dog
0-40lbs or 40-50lbs or 50-60lbs
40-60lbs or 50-60lbs or 60-80lbs

Familiarize your puppy with the crate to make crate training a pleasant experience.

    • Place an old shirt or blanket on the bottom of the crate to provide comfort.
    • Place some kibble inside the crate to tempt the puppy. As they enter the crate, praise the puppy by giving them kibble. If they don’t want to enter the crate, slowly put them inside with the door open. Never leave the puppy alone the first time it is crated.
    • Once in the crate for a few moments, call them to come out of the crate to join you. Praise them with simple words and pats when they come to you.
    • You will want to practice this several times until the puppy is comfortable inside the crate, and you can start closing the door slowly. Once they are crated for about one minute and remain calm, you can open the door and praise them while coming out of the crate.
    • Feed your puppy inside the crate to make them more comfortable with it.

Get your puppy used to spending longer periods of time in the crate:

    • If the puppy whines when crated, wait for them to quiet down. It may take five to ten minutes before you open the door to let them out. Praise them when they come out and take them outside to eliminate immediately.
    • Repeat this process a few times a day for multiple days.

Crate your puppy overnight or when leaving the house, do not leave them in there too long:

    • A puppy is not meant to spend most of the day in its crate. They must be given breaks to walk and play around frequently.
    • The crate is there for the puppy to be tucked in overnight when you’re sleeping, cannot supervise them, need to travel, or keep them away from visitors.

With patience, practice, and consistency your puppy will learn that its crate is a safe place and not a prison. The crate may even become your puppy’s new favorite place to relax!