Puppy Vaccinations: Here’s What to Know

Puppy Vaccinations: Here’s What to Know

Congrats on the new addition to your family! Getting a puppy is an exciting (and sometimes challenging) time. Whether you are a first-time puppy owner or have had dogs all your life, you want to make sure you give your puppy the start they deserve. An important part of laying the foundation for a healthy, happy life is making sure they get the appropriate puppy vaccinations.

When Does My Puppy Receive Particular Vaccines?

There is not one set schedule for puppy vaccinations. Which vaccines your dog should receive depends on their individual risk factors. That said, here is a general timeline for when your puppy should receive their vaccines.

6 to 8 weeks of age: DHPP Optional: Bordetella.
10-12 weeks of age: DHPP Optional: Coronavirus
14-16 weeks of age: DHPP. Optional: Lyme & Coronavirus.
18-20 weeks of age: DHPP Optional: Lyme & Coronavirus
12-16 months: DHPP, rabies Optional: Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease

Your veterinarian will work with you to determine the appropriate vaccine schedule for your puppy.

What Types of Vaccinations Does My Puppy Need?

Like human babies, puppies will need to see their vet several times in their first year of life. During these visits, your vet will monitor your puppy’s growth and administer vaccinations. To learn more about recommended and optional vaccines, please refer to the information below.

Recommended Puppy Vaccinations

The recommended vaccination schedule for puppies includes vaccines for distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvovirus (DHPP), and rabies.

Canine Distemper

Distemper is a severe and contagious disease caused by a virus that affects the gastrointestinal (GI), respiratory, and nervous systems of dogs, skunks, raccoons, and other animals. It is spread through sneezing or coughing, but can also be transmitted through shared food or water bowls. Symptoms include discharges from the eyes and nose, coughing, vomiting, fever, seizures, diarrhea, twitching, and paralysis.

There is no cure for distemper, and it is often fatal, but if the animal survives the symptoms, the virus can last for months.

Canine Hepatitis

Canine hepatitis is another highly contagious viral infection. It affects the liver, kidneys, lungs, spleen, and eyes. This disease is not related to the human form of hepatitis. The symptoms range from a slight fever and congestion to vomiting, stomach enlargement, jaundice, and pain around the liver. Many dogs can make a recovery for mild cases, but in severe cases, it can be fatal. There is no cure for canine hepatitis, but the symptoms are treatable.

Canine Parainfluenza

This is one of several viruses that can contribute to kennel cough. Symptoms are usually mild unless it is combined with another virus or Bordetella bacteria. It is transmitted by nasal discharge and saliva. Parainfluenza causes a dry hacking cough and watery nasal discharge, but if left untreated, it can cause pneumonia or even death.


This is another highly contagious virus that affects all dogs; however, unvaccinated dogs and puppies less than four months of age are at the highest risk to contract it. Parvovirus attacks the gastrointestinal system, resulting in a loss of appetite, fever, vomiting, or severe, bloody diarrhea. Receiving prompt veterinary attention is crucial as hydration can come on rapidly and be fatal within a 48-72 hour period. There is no cure, so keeping the dog hydrated and controlling secondary symptoms will keep them going until the dog’s immune system beats the virus.


Rabies vaccinations are required by the State of Georgia for all dogs three months of age or older. It is a viral disease that invades the central nervous system, resulting in headaches, hallucinations, anxiety, fear of water, excessive drooling, paralysis, and death. The most common method of transmission is through a rabid animal bite. It is essential to receive treatment within hours of transmission; otherwise, it is likely to be fatal.

Optional Vaccinations

The vaccine types listed below are optional and dependent on your lifestyle and dog’s particular needs.

Bordetella Bronchiseptica

The Bordetella Bronchiseptica vaccine is recommended if you plan on boarding your puppy in the future, attending training classes, or enrolling your dog in dog daycare. For many facilities, proof of vaccination is a requirement.

This is a highly infectious bacteria that causes severe coughing, whooping, and vomiting. In rare cases, it can cause seizures and death. This bacteria is the primary cause of kennel cough.


Canine coronavirus is not the same virus that causes COVID-19 in people. There is no evidence that COVID-19 is a health threat to dogs. That said, canine coronavirus usually affects a dog’s gastrointestinal system, although it can cause respiratory infections. Common symptoms include loss of appetite, diarrhea, and vomiting. There is no cure for canine coronavirus, but it helps to keep a dog hydrated, warm, and comfortable.


Leptospirosis is another bacterial disease that is found worldwide in soil and water. Some dogs may show no symptoms at all. It is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be spread from animals to people. Symptoms include fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, stiffness, muscle pain, severe weakness, lethargy, and more. Antibiotics are effective at treating this, but the sooner treatment is administered, the better.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is an infectious, tick-borne disease caused by spirochete bacteria. An infected dog often shows symptoms, including limping, swollen lymph nodes, raised temperature, and reduced appetite. This disease can affect the heart, kidney, and joints and lead to neurological disorders if left untreated. When diagnosed early, antibiotics are beneficial, but relapses can occur months or years later.

Helping Your Pet Live Longer, Healthier & Happier

Puppy vaccinations are an essential part of giving your dog a long, happy, and healthy life. Our team is eager to help you. If you still have questions about vaccinations, give Bush Animal Clinic a call at 229-439-7073 today!

Common Pet Poisons

Common Pet Poisons

While many pet owners are aware that chocolate is toxic to dogs, for example, there are many pet poisons that owners are unaware of. Varying in toxicity, these poisons are harmful to your pet, and extra efforts should be taken to prevent your furry friends from ingesting them.

What Are Some of the Most Common Pet Poisons?

Some of the most common pet poisons are common sense, and others may surprise you. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®) conducts research of the most common pet poisons each year. According to their research, the most common pet poisons in 2019 were as follows:

  1. Over the counter (OTC) medications
  2. Human prescription medications
  3. Food
  4. Chocolate
  5. Veterinary products
  6. Household items
  7. Rodenticide
  8. Plants
  9. Insecticides
  10. Garden products

See a Full List of Animal Poisons here.

Tips For Prevention

You may be wondering to yourself, “What can I do to make sure my pet doesn’t ingest anything they shouldn’t?” Here are some of the best things you can do to ensure just that:

Know the Most Common Pet Poisons

Knowing which substances are poisonous and which are not will allow you to take any precautions necessary to keep your pet safe and healthy. Read and remember the list above, writing it down for good measure. Accidents can still happen, but the chances of one happening are decreased drastically if you are well educated on the most common pet poisons.

Make The Poisons Hard to Access

Keeping the harmful substances away from your pet is the best way to prevent your pet from ingesting them. Properly store all harmful food in containers and out of reach. When gardening or doing lawn care, keep your pet inside for the time being to prevent them from ingesting fertilizer, insecticide, and other gardening products.

Certain plants can be harmful, as well. Lilies are harmful to cats, and cycad palms are very harmful to both cats and dogs. Keeping these substances out of your pet’s reach is the best preventative measure you can take to ensure your pet’s safety.

Be Careful of Feeding Your Pet Leftovers

It may seem harmless, and it sure can sure be hard to say no to your dog who’s giving you the “puppy eyes,” but feeding your pet the leftovers on your plate may be more harmful than you think. Some of the most common poisons are food that frequents the dinner table. For example, garlic and onions are harmful to your furry friend, as are grapes, raisins, and chocolate.

Have A Plan Just In Case

No matter how cautious you are, mistakes can happen. The best thing you can do is to have a plan of action in case you suspect your pet may have ingested a poisonous substance. Some common symptoms your pet has been poisoned include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Blood in the stool
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bruising
  • Nosebleeds
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Inability to urinate

If you think your pet may have ingested poison, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center

Phone Number: (888) 426-4435

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) is your best resource for any animal poison-related emergency, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you think your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, call the number above.

For more information from the Animal Poison Control Center, click here!

If you have any questions about poisonous substances for your pet, give us a call, and we’ll assist you the best we can!

Brush Those Teeth! The Importance of Maintaining Your Pet’s Dental Hygiene

Brush Those Teeth! The Importance of Maintaining Your Pet’s Dental Hygiene

The importance of a healthy dental care routine for your pet is often overlooked. Dental disease is one of the most prevalent health problems of cats and dogs. It has been estimated that more than 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by the time they’re just three years old. Recent figures have these percentages even higher.

How to Spot Dental Disease

The best way to determine if your pet has dental disease is to have one of our highly experienced and trained veterinarians perform a check-up. That said, if you remain vigilant, there are some common symptoms of dental disease that you can spot at home. The symptoms include:

  • Bad breath
  • Lethargy, inactivity, or depression
  • Salivating
  • Red, swollen, and even bleeding gums
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Dropping food from mouth while eating
  • Facial swelling
  • Discharge from the nose or eyes
  • Pawing at the face
  • Poor grooming
  • Teeth becoming loose or falling out

Why Is Pet Dental Hygiene Important?

Poor pet dental care can lead to oral cancer and periodontal disease. While bad in itself, these diseases are shown to be linked to other health problems throughout the body. Heart, kidney, and liver disease have all been linked to periodontal disease.

So What Can You Do to Help Your Pet?

Brush Regularly

Similarly to how it’s important for humans to brush their teeth regularly, it’s also important to brush your pet’s teeth! Train your pet at an early age to accept tooth brushing, and it will make a massive difference in your pet’s dental health. Aim for once a day, but a few times a week will work well too. If you’re going to use toothpaste (water will suffice), remember, dogs cannot use human toothpaste. It’s toxic for them!

A Healthy “Dental Diet”

You will be flooded with options when browsing online or in the pet store for food. Talk with one of our vets to learn more about which brands/foods are better than others to promote great dental health. There are specific dental diets that consist of dry food that is clinically proven to reduce plaque, stain, and tartar buildup. If nothing else, at least reconsider feeding your pet exclusively wet food, as it leads to a higher accumulation of plaque.

Tooth-Friendly Treats

Just like your pet’s kibble, there are treats that are specifically designed to fight plaque and tartar and improve your furry friend’s teeth. While they should not replace regular brushing or check-ups, they are a good way to promote good dental health while giving your pet a treat.

Regular Dental Checkups

We can’t stress the importance of this enough! While brushing and dental diets are great steps to improve your pet’s dental health, the best way to diagnose and treat dental diseases, such as periodontal disease or oral cancer, is through regular dental exams administered by your vet. Through general anesthesia, we will be able to reach the spots you couldn’t, probe the gums, and screen for diseases that may be hidden otherwise.

Do Some Research

The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) is a great resource to learn more about effective ways to care for your pet’s oral health. They even have a list of approved treats, foods, and products that promote great dental hygiene.

Check them out here!

As always, if you have a question about your pet’s dental health, you can call Northside Animal Hospital at 229-244-2983, and we’ll assist you the best we can!

Spaying & Neutering: What to Know

Spaying & Neutering: What to Know

Spaying and neutering are incredibly important procedures that will reduce the pet overpopulation problem our country has and also help your pet live a longer, healthier life. For those who have recently adopted a pet or are considering it, it is one of the most important health decisions you’ll make for your furry friend.

What’s the Difference?


The removal of your female pet’s ovaries and uterus. This procedure requires little hospitalization, yet a lifetime of health benefits.


The removal of your male pet’s testicles. It will improve your pet’s behavior and keep him close to home.

What Are the Medical Benefits of Spaying & Neutering?

Protection from Diseases

Spaying your female pet will help them live a longer, healthier life. Spaying can prevent uterine infections and breast tumors, which are cancerous in around 50% of dogs and 90% of cats. Neutering your male pet can prevent various prostate problems and testicular cancer.

While spaying and neutering can help your animal live a longer and healthier life, there are several behavioral benefits, as well.

What Are the Behavioral Benefits of Spaying & Neutering?

Better Behaved Boys

While your pet’s instinctual personality won’t change, certain behavior problems can be fixed, such as aggression, excessive barking, mounting, and other dominance-related tendencies.

Less Roaming

Animals that haven’t been neutered will try their best to find a mate. This includes roaming away from home! Having your pet neutered will reduce their desire to roam, decreasing their chance of getting injured in traffic or from fighting other males in the process.

No Heat for the Ladies

Your female pet will typically urinate more frequently, sometimes in your home, when they go into heat. Spaying your four-legged friend can eliminate this issue!

When to Spay or Neuter Your Pet


Cats will be ready to be fixed at a younger age than dogs. Traditionally, it is safe for kittens to be spayed or neutered as young as eight weeks old. You want to have them fixed before they’re five months old to avoid the start of urine spraying and reduce the chance of pregnancy.


Typically you should spay or neuter your dog when they’re between the ages of six and nine months. That’s not to say that dogs can be fixed earlier or later than that, however.

If a dog is healthy enough, they can undergo the operation as young as 2 months old, although we do not recommend it. Dogs can also be fixed as adults as well, although there is a higher risk of post-operative complications due to their weight, age, or pre-existing health problems.


You can spay or neuter your female bunny as soon as they are sexually mature, usually around 4 months of age. That said, many veterinarians prefer to wait until they are 6 months old, to reduce the risk associated with performing the procedure on a younger rabbit.

Males can be neutered as soon as the testicles descend. This typically happens around 8 to 12 weeks.

A Cost-Effective Solution to Pet Overpopulation

Spaying and neutering are important procedures that will help your pet live a healthier life and curb the massive overpopulation issue we are currently facing. Not to mention, it can help save you money in the long-run.

The cost of your pet’s spay/neuter surgery is a lot less than the cost of having and caring for a litter. It also beats the cost of treating reproductive system cancer or injuries from fighting, something that is common in unaltered pets.

Helping Your Pet Live Longer, Healthier & Happier

As a pet owner, you want to do everything you can to keep your furry loved one healthy, happy, and thriving. If you still have questions about spaying and neutering, call Northside Animal Hospital at 229-244-2983 today!