We are new dog owners. We want to make sure that we are doing everything we can to protect our dogs’ health. Can you advise what kind of worming and vaccination schedule we should follow? We have two 3-month-old puppies and a 2-year-old dog. (They are all half-Poodle, half-Chihuahua.) Any advice would be appreciated.
This would be a good time to review basic vaccination and deworming schedules for new, and “used,” dog owners. Although there might be some minor regional variations, in general this protocol should be used for all puppies and dogs.
A combination core vaccine containing protection against parvo virus, distemper virus, adenovirus and hepatitis should be given at 8, 10 and 12 weeks of age, and then repeated annually. Some veterinarians may switch to a 3-year vaccination schedule after a dog reaches 2 years of age. Additional vaccines in certain parts of the country may include leptospirosis on a similar schedule. For dogs that are going to spend time in boarding facilities or with lots of other dogs, a bordetella vaccine to prevent kennel cough is recommended, at least annually.
All dogs should be vaccinated for rabies at 14 weeks of age, and then again at one year of age. Depending on the local regulations, re-vaccination with rabies vaccine should happen every one to three years.
De-worming with an oral prescription de-wormer such as pyrantel palmoate or fenbendazole should take place every 2 weeks starting at 3 weeks of age. Once a puppy reaches 6 months of age, it can start taking a monthly heartworm preventative that also contains a dewormer for intestinal worms. The monthly de-worming should continue year round. Some farm or ranch dogs may require medication for tapeworms, as well.
Although some dog owners do vaccinate their puppies and dogs themselves, it is better to have a veterinarian decide on the best vaccination schedule for dogs in certain parts of the country, depending upon disease risk. In addition, only a veterinarian can administer a rabies vaccine with a legal certificate of vaccination. Also, dog owners should avoid giving over-the-counter de-worming medications to their dogs, as they are often ineffective and may have side effects.