Bringing home a new puppy is an exciting experience that can also come with a considerable amount of worry. As a new pet owner, you want to be sure you’re giving your puppy the best start possible and that they’re happy and healthy. From seeing your veterinarian for their first vaccines and preventives to being aware of signs of illness, there is a lot to consider regarding puppy care. If you have a long list of questions about what’s normal for your puppy or what they need at this early stage of life, we are here for you. We’ve taken the most frequently asked questions about puppy care and answered them here.

If you have further questions about puppy care and are in the Las Vegas, NV area, give us a call at (702) 213-4513 to schedule an appointment. 

How will proper puppy care impact the life of my dog?

When you get a puppy, you must visit your veterinarian right away to ensure your puppy gets a good start. Your veterinarian will confirm they’re in good health and that there's nothing congenital that you need to be aware of from the beginning. They will also get your puppy started on vaccines and preventative care to ensure their quality of life and longevity. In addition to visiting your veterinarian as early as possible, proper puppy care from the very first day is critical and includes proper nutrition, training, and vaccinations. These measures will set them up for good long-term health. 

Why is it so important to start good puppy care on day one?

Unfortunately, your puppy can get many diseases and parasites early in life, which you want to prevent or treat if necessary — especially since some of those diseases are zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted to humans. Puppies also thrive on routine, so you should establish a good routine from day one that includes oral health care, a feeding schedule, and consistent training. You should also get your puppy used to having their face, ears, and mouth touched at a very young age so you can more easily administer medicines and preventives and prepare them for things like bathing and nail trims. 

How soon should I bring my puppy in to see a veterinarian for their first exam?

At Boca Park Animal Hospital, we recommend making an appointment for your puppy’s first exam before you even bring them home. This is to get started on deworming and vaccinations and diagnose any congenital issues as early as possible. However, that advice is contingent on the breeder. If they brought the litter to a veterinarian to start the vaccination schedule, you should ask them when your puppy is due for their next veterinarian visit. They should be able to provide dates and documentation of what’s been administered already. 

What are the most common health problems in puppies?

Puppies are curious by nature, so the most common health problems are often the result of exploring the world around them and eating things they shouldn’t. Unfortunately, other health issues come from the environment in which they were bred, if the breeder was unreputable and not careful about providing a sanitary environment. 

Common health problems in puppies include:

  • Intestinal parasites
  • External parasites such as fleas and ticks
  • Skin conditions such as ear mites or scabies
  • Parvovirus
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Umbilical hernias

Puppies can get diseases in certain social settings, which makes getting them on a proper vaccination schedule all the more critical. 

What are some signs and symptoms of illness in your puppy?

Puppies are usually weaned from their mother at 6-7 weeks old, after which time they can go to their new homes. While puppies do sleep a lot, they should be very active once they awaken. If they are not, that’s cause for concern.

  • Signs of illness in a puppy include:
  • Lethargy despite sleeping a lot
  • Lack of appetite
  • Trouble urinating or defecating
  • Lack of engagement with people
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Excessive thirst

Any concerns about the way your puppy is acting, from their interactions to their eating habits, warrant a trip to the veterinarian. They should be playing and sleeping hard. 

What are the signs of a healthy, thriving puppy?

A healthy, thriving puppy eats and drinks in average amounts, engages with the family, plays, and cuddles. While they tend to sleep a lot, sleeping all the time or being very depressed or lethargic is not normal. They should be very active when awake and take long naps in between play sessions. Due to their tiny stomachs and voracious eating, they should also frequently urinate and defecate. 

What will my veterinarian be looking for when first examining my puppy?

There are many things your veterinarian will look for when examining your puppy. From their behavior to proper organ function, they will give your new puppy a complete head-to-tail examination. 

When examining a puppy, a veterinarian will:

  • Familiarize themselves with the puppy’s personality and behaviors
  • Check their feces and send it to the lab
  • Check their ears, eyes, and mouth
  • Listen to their heart and lungs
  • Feel the intestines and stomach
  • Check for joint pain
  • Examine their skin and hair coat
  • Check for any birth defects
  • Ask questions about your home environment

Your puppy’s first examination will be longer than usual — approximately 45 minutes since there's so much to talk about. Your veterinarian wants to make sure you have all the information you need. The American Kennel Club website has a helpful article about what to expect at your puppy’s first exam. 

When should I start training my puppy?

You should start training and socializing your puppy as soon as you bring them home. A common myth is that you should wait until your puppy is fully vaccinated to begin training, but that’s a lot of lost time at the most critical training age. The truth is your puppy will go through many changes at 8 weeks, 12 weeks, and 16 weeks, and you want them to be experiencing safe training and socialization during that time. They have had some vaccinations at that point, so it’s entirely safe for them to participate in classes with other vaccinated dogs who aren’t sick. We highly recommend having your puppy participate in a training program geared towards their age and breed. 

If you have any other questions and are near Las Vegas, please give us a call at (702) 213-4513. You can also email us at and we will get back to you as soon as we are able. Don't forget to follow us on social media: Facebook and Instagram.