A reader from Seattle writes, “My veterinarian examines my new puppy thoroughly from ‘head to toe” every three weeks when he goes in for his puppy series of vaccinations. My friend says his veterinarian examined his puppy only on the first visit, and just vaccinates every three weeks without an exam. Should I change doctors to save the examination fee? Thank you for your time and expertise.”
Thank you, Jill, for asking a question on a VERY important topic: the
Your veterinarian is doing exactly what your puppy needs to develop normally, or catch problems early if developmental problems occur.
Just like human babies, puppies and kittens are susceptible to developmental problems. In children, we may see that an infant fails to support his own head’s weight at a proper time. Or his eyes don’t follow moving objects as they should. Or an older infant fails to respond to sounds.
Later, we may notice that a child learns at a rate dramatically slower than his peers. These are all problems with a degree of seriousness that needs to be addressed right away.
It is no different with puppies and kittens, except that detecting the signs, the evidence, can be more difficult because of the way we interact with our pets.
For example, a puppy with poor vision may so effectively compensate with his senses of hearing and smell that the vision defect is masked. If the vision problem is structural in the eye, examining the eyes at every vaccination visit makes it more likely that the cause will be detected early, when therapy has the best chance of successfully correcting the problem.
Puppies are predisposed to certain breed-specific problems. Some of those are orthopedic conditions, and some can be successfully treated if detected early enough. Waiting six or more months between examinations may leave bones irreversibly damaged. Certain of these conditions are painful, and your puppy deserves the best chance at a pain-free life. Early management helps to minimize the discomfort.
Seattle reader’s inquiry continues. “Another friend says that he buys vaccines from the local feed store and gives vaccinations himself. I don’t think I could bring myself to give my puppy a shot, but this friend says he would do it for me. Should I take him up on his offer?”
I have written on this topic before and you can follow this link to read some of the bad things that can happen with “feed store” vaccines.
Look at it this way: Do you get your medical advice from your grocer? No? Then why would you purchase medical necessities at your dog’s grocery store?
And, if you did, is that “grocer” qualified to perform a physical examination on your puppy?
I don’t think so!
See you next week, Dr. Randolph.