Preventive Care


Vaccines are an essential part of your pet’s protection against serious infectious diseases. Some diseases are common and deadly to your puppy, making those vaccines imperative for all dogs (e.g., parvo). Other diseases are rare and not every dog needs protection (e.g., Lyme). Your veterinarian will help you determine the best protocol for your dog.

THE KEY POINT: Vaccines should be given every 3 weeks until the puppy is 4 months old.

Stopping vaccines early, no matter how many vaccines the puppy has already had, is not advised. A dog’s immune system may not be fully developed and not respond to many vaccines until it is 4 months old. Longer intervals between vaccines risks infection if the puppy’s antibody protection levels fall, making it susceptible to disease.

Vaccines available to protect your dog:

  • Distemper (D) A viral disease of the intestines, lungs, brain and eyes. Usually fatal.
  • Hepatitis (H) A viral disease of the liver. Uncommon. Often fatal.
  • Parainfluenza (P) A virus causing respiratory disease.
  • Parvo (P) A viral disease of the intestines. Common. Often fatal.
  • Bordetella (B) A bacteria causing respiratory disease.
  • Rabies (R) A virus fatal to humans and animals. Legally required.

After completing the initial vaccine series, an annual booster of all vaccines will be due 1 year after the final set. Then, rabies, and DHPP vaccines will be required every 3 years. Bordetella is required annually. IVS recommends annual physical exams.

Heartworm prevention is important for all dogs in this region now that this disease is established in Orange County. Heartworm disease is spread by mosquito bites, injecting larvae that migrate to your dog’s heart. This is a disease that is hard to treat and easy to prevent. Oral or topical medication is given monthly to protect your dog from this parasite and an annual heartworm test is required to ensure your dog is free from heartworm.

Lyme disease is a bacteria spread by ticks. In this area, tick control is recommended as protection for dogs with possible tick exposure.

A microscopic examination of the stool for intestinal parasites is very important in all puppies. It should be repeated yearly.