Newborn Puppy Care Guide:
Follow this Health Care Timeline
to Start Your Puppy out Right!

This newborn puppy care guide is courtesy of Mark Stickney, DVM, Clinical Associate Professor of Small Animal General (Elective) Surgery at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine.

Puppy age

6-8 weeks:

  • First veterinary visit; physical exam, vaccinations, deworming.
  • Puppy should be weaned and eating a high-quality puppy diet or large-breed puppy diet for large breed dogs.
  • Begin crate-training to housebreak your puppy.

8-12 weeks:

  • This is a critical time for socialization for your puppy. Expose your puppy to other healthy puppies and animals, and other people.

9-12 weeks:

  • Second (and possibly third) veterinary visit; physical exam, vaccinations, deworming.
  • Begin heartworm preventative and flea/tick preventative if appropriate.

12 weeks or older:

  • Puppy should receive rabies vaccination from veterinarian.
  • Begin obedience training.

16-20 weeks:

  • Final veterinary visits for puppy vaccination series; physical exam, deworming.
  • Puppy should be on monthly heartworm preventative and flea/tick control by this time.

6 months or less:

  • Puppy should be spayed or neutered unless you have given serious thought to the implications of having a litter, have always intended to breed your dog, and your puppy does not have any undesirable heritable traits.
  • Microchip for permanent identification.

1 year:

  • First annual veterinary visit; physical examination, rabies booster and other vaccine boosters, other diagnostics as necessary.
  • Transition puppy to adult maintenance dog food.

Taking care of a puppy can be very scary, especially when it comes to his health care needs. We hope you refer often to this puppy care guide to make sure that your little fur-ball is on track for a healthy, happy year and long, healthy life! For more information on your puppy's first-year health care, be sure to read our in-depth article on new born puppy care.

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