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Puppy Vaccines

Congratulations on your new puppy!

Puppies require three sets of vaccines to properly prepare their little bodies to fight off the contagious and deadly diseases, out in that big new world. They receive their first set of vaccines at 8 weeks of age, then we see them again at 12 and 16 weeks of age for two more rounds. We not only give them their vaccinations but a wellness exam to ensure they are happy, healthy and progressing, as they should be for their age.

What vaccinations do you provide new puppies?


There are two different categories of vaccines; Core and Non-Core.

Core – administered to all healthy dogs.
Non-Core – administered selectively based on geography, lifestyle and exposure risk.

Core Vaccines include:

  • Distemper Complex – Protects against distemper, adenovirus (hepatitis), leptospirosis, parainfluenza, parvo and coronavirus. These diseases attack the respiratory system, liver, kidneys, intestines, cause joint pain, lethargy, and some can be spread to humans.
  • Rabies – Fatal and incurable. Rabies affects the nervous system and can be spread to humans. This vaccine is required by law.

Non-Core Vaccines include:

  • Bordetella – More commonly known as kennel cough. Required when boarding dogs in a kennel or daycare.
  • Lyme – Disease spread by the deer tick. Recommended for dogs who live in or travel to Lyme endemic areas.

At what age should I bring in my puppy for their vaccinations?


At 8 weeks of age, your puppy will receive their first dose of the distemper complex, which includes vaccines for distemper, adenovirus (hepatitis), parainfluenza, parvo and leptospirosis. This vaccine is usually given by the breeder or rescue before you adopt your new puppy.

At 12 weeks of age, your puppy will receive a ‘booster’ (second dose) of the original distemper complex in order to boost their immunity to these dangerous diseases. They will also get their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine at this time. This is usually your puppy’s first time meeting your own veterinarian and will be an exciting visit for everyone.

Lastly, at 16 weeks of age, your puppy will receive their last ‘booster’ of the original distemper complex, their second dose of the coronavirus, and will now get the rabies vaccine. During this visit, you may also opt to get your puppy the Bordetella and Lyme vaccines as well, based on the puppy’s lifestyle and exposure risk. This decision will be based on a discussion with your veterinarian during your appointment.

How should I prepare my puppy for their first vaccination visit?


You and your puppy should not be scared to come to visit us at the veterinary clinic. Before your puppy’s first vaccination appointment with us, schedule a time to come in just for a visit, step on the scale, meet our staff and get some treats. We want to ensure you both know that the veterinary clinic can be a fun place, and not just for check-ups and vaccinations. By taking that first car ride and visit with us before the first vaccines, it ensures that the next time you come in will be way less stressful for you both.

How much do puppy vaccinations cost?


The vaccine protocol for each puppy differs based on health, age, lifestyle and exposure risks. During your visit with your puppy, we will provide them with a comprehensive physical exam and discuss what vaccines will best suit their needs at that time. Please call our clinic today with any questions or concerns you may have about vaccines and the costs associated.

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Veterinary Diets vs Store Bought Diets

Exactly why is Vet food so much more money? And why would I spend that when I can get the same food at the grocery store? Am I getting ripped off?! At $60+ a bag, yes, you would think that you might be getting taken to the cleaners on dog or cat food. Let me de-mystify the cost versus quality question. What you might not realize is that there are some very key differences between the food you buy at your veterinarians vs the foods you buy at the grocery or pet stores. We don’t sell theirs, and they CAN’T  sell ours for some key reasons. Veterinary food is formulated to treat a specific condition; think of it as medicine. Typically, a veterinarian would need to prescribe this nutrition for the treatment of a specific disease or condition. Hence the brand “Prescription Diet”. Store-bought brands are for wellness and prevention, NOT treatment - this is a very important distinction! So, now we’ve established that veterinary food is to aid a specific condition and that it’s prescribed by a Veterinary Doctor, I can tell you more about what makes prescription diets unique. Why are prescription diets different? Let’s take a look at urinary health foods. I’ll use Hills C/D vs Hills Science Diet urinary for example. C/D you can only purchase at your veterinarian's office, while Science Diet Urinary is available at pet stores. Both are Hills ( a name and brand we trust ). Let me start by saying that they both have similar properties in terms of ingredients, but here’s the difference - Hill’s Science Diet Urinary is for wellness and prevention of calcium oxalate and struvite crystals. Keywords are wellness and prevention. It doesn’t claim anything more than that. Hills C/D, however, treats crystals and also treats cystitis (inflammation of the urinary system).  It does this by being more tailored with pH, and minerals, as well as controlling the minimum amounts of all ingredients more. How would you use this information? Well, let’s say you have a kitty that’s male and getting up in years,  and also might be a few pounds overweight. We know that many male cats develop some type of urinary issues, especially if they carry some excess pounds. In this case, by using a urinary diet that is formulated for prevention and wellness, you can get ahead of the game. Once Fluffy is in the realm of blockage or crystals are diagnosed, this food is no longer useful. Here is a great example of where C/D is prescribed for treatment. Another difference between veterinary vs store-bought brands is that unless it’s veterinary food, there are NO STUDIES done that show treatment results (ie no studies prove that Science Diet Urinary  dissolves crystals. Same goes for Perfect Weight vs Metabolic.) There aren’t any studies that show that Perfect Weight food actually causes Fluffy to lose weight. Sure, it’s a more controlled calorie diet, but it’s not for obesity. That’s where a prescription diet is recommended. It is, however, great for preventing obesity or for slightly overweight pets with no other health issues. The difference in AAFCO Statement - why does it matter? An AAFCO statement should be on every bag of pet food. It stands for The Association of American Feed Control Officials. All foods that are made in the USA but sold here in Canada must have this statement. The statement shows that a particular food has nutrients that fall  “within the range” for a certain life stage be it adult, growth, pregnancy, and lactating. This range can be quite large, and your bag will show the MINIMUM amount. Now going back to veterinary vs store-bought food, one thing that your Veterinary diet will always have is an AAFCO statement. With that statement it will also say “Formulated and Trialled”; pet store food will likely only say “Formulated”. That means that not only are veterinary foods formulated to maintain a minimum amount of nutrients for specific life stages, but it also states that that diet has been trialled on a group of pets to prove that the diet maintains optimum health for that particular life stage. These trials would include things like weight, urine samples and blood samples, to be sure that there is optimal health achieved or maintained. If your pet store food only says “Formulated'', that means no actual trials on real dogs/cats have been conducted. Guaranteed Analysis - Why minimums and maximums matter The guaranteed analysis is a confusing one. What I can tell you is to always look at the nutrient on a dry matter basis; this is the best way to actually compare foods. It will tell you the minimums and maximums, but not the absolute values. Why do you care? Because Prescription diets will follow a  specific recipe with NO deviations from it.  *Side note: that is why sometimes diets go on backorder. The companies that make veterinary food are extremely specific to their ingredients and will not stray just to make a diet. Store food brands also use minimums and maximums, however, the actual recipe will change from batch to batch. For example, if the protein minimum is 36% on one bag of food and the protein comes from chicken, the next batch could be 47% protein and the source may be from a different “bird”. The issue arises when Fluffy has renal issues caused by excess protein, however, your bag only tells you a minimum value. You would never know if the last 4 bags were made with a larger protein content. I’ve seen this issue with dogs with allergies. They do well on a “salmon” based food for a month, and then the next month break out in an itchy rash. After a little digging, we find it ends up being that the bag of food ran out and the owners have started the next one. This is the reality when feeding brands that are not regulated by recipes. Always consult your veterinarian about any diet-related concerns That is a lot of information! It’s always best to consult your veterinarian for any food changes or diet-related concerns.  Veterinary food is meant for a specific purpose - for the treatment of a health concern. Store-bought food is made for wellness and prevention. There are very key differences between the two, and one cannot be exchanged for the other.  Besides looking at the type of food, remember to look at the labels. Check to see if it is AAFCO  regulated, check whether it’s been “Formulated” or “Formulated and Trialled”, and always compare using dry matter. Remember that the minimums are important as is the use of an actual repeated recipe. If in doubt, call! Every bag should have a contact number to reach the company with concerns and questions. Written by: Tania Admans, RVT, Nutritional Advisor and Advocate

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Last updated: June 21, 2022.

Dear Clients,

To ensure all of our patients and clients get the best care possible, please let us know if you cannot make the appointment. All no-shows will be recorded and clients with multiple no-shows may be asked for a deposit before making future appointments. We understand that unforeseen circumstances and emergencies arise. A simple phone call before your scheduled appointment is all that is required - 24 hours notice preferred. This will allow us to offer that spot to a pet in need.

- Your dedicated team at Elgin Animal Hospital