Remember young puppies have young immune systems and are susceptible to contagious diseases.  Do your best to keep them away from a lot of exposure until their immune system gets older and more effective, which is around 16 weeks of age.  This means limited trips to the park or walks in the neighborhood.  While it is important to socialize your pup, we also do not want to over expose them.  Puppy classes are fine, because all of the pups are required to be up to date on vaccinations, deworming, and vet visits- similar to kids in pre-school.  Initially feed the same or similar food to what your pup was weaned on, then slowly switch to the food that we (you & the Dr.) recommend.

 Download them HERE

8-9 weeks of age

Veterinary exam and check up.

                DHP vaccine (Distemper/Adenovirus (hepatitis)/Parvo)

                Fecal test

Deworming- no matter what the test shows (pups can still harbor parasites that always show up on

fecal test.

                Start Heartworm prevention and flea control if over 2#            

11-12 weeks of age:

                Veterinary Exam and check up

                Repeat DHP vaccine

Start/continue heartworm prevention

                Fecal test


15-16 weeks of age:

Veterinary Exam and check up

                Repeat DHP vaccine- final

Start/continue heartworm prevention

                Fecal test



19-20 weeks of age:

                Veterinary exam and Check up

                Continue heartworm prevention

                Rabies 1 year


23-24 weeks of age:

Veterinary exam and Check up

                Continue heartworm prevention

                Leptospirosis #1


27-28 weeks of age:

Veterinary exam and Check up

                Continue heartworm prevention

Leptospirosis #2


Rabies vaccine can be given as early at 14 weeks of age.  We prefer to give it at 16 weeks of age, ideally not at the same time as the distemper or Leptospirosis vaccine.  Giving multiple vaccines at the same time increases the likelihood of vaccine reactions and overwhelming the immune system.


Spaying/Neutering– Should be done one month (or more) before or after the rabies vaccine, or at least 3 weeks after the last DHP vaccine.


We do not recommend vaccinations at the time of surgery.  This overwhelms the immune system.  In this instance the body is trying to heal from surgery & mount an immune response with the vaccinations.


Bordatella/Kennel cough- should be given to those pets that will have high exposure potential, such as puppy classes, grooming, boarding, & puppy daycare.


At this time we DO NOT- recommend Corona, Giardia, Ringworm, Lyme or Canine Influenza.


Leptospirosis –is now being recommended for all dogs.  This is due to a significant increase in reported cases at University of Florida.  Please see separate handout regarding this disease


One year after the initial rabies vaccination the 3 year rabies vaccination can be given. 

Then as required by law your dog should be vaccinated against rabies every 3 years.

One year after the initial distemper vaccination the 3 year distemper vaccination can be given.


Leptospirosis requires an annual booster. (see separate handout)


We prefer to give the rabies & distemper vaccines at least one month apart.


All 50 states acknowledge the 3 year duration of immunity rabies vaccination.


If your pet has demonstrated serious illness directly related to vaccinations or has an immune compromised disease (diabetes, cancer, auto-immune disorders), then a medical exemption can be issued to exempt your pet from vaccinations, can a county tag can be issued in Hillsborough County and Pasco County.  Pinellas County will only allow medical exemptions for those pets that have had a documented anaphylactic reaction to vaccination(s).  Titer levels can be done to try to determine if there is antibody present, but no one will recognize this test in lieu of vaccination or medical exemption.  Rabies is a potential threat to human health and therefore can be a legal issue so we need to follow acceptable protocols.


After the label duration of immunity on the 3 year distemper vaccine, given at one year of age, distemper & parvo titers can be performed to determine immunity and determine if boosters need to be given.


Recent immunology studies indicate that many pets may not need as many vaccinations after 10 years of age.  Titers are recommended annually for pets who are not regularly vaccinated, or whose labeled vaccination immunity has worn off.  If titer levels are low, we will discuss whether or not it is necessary to vaccinate your pet.


We recommend physical exams, heartworm tests, and fecal tests be done yearly.  Once your pet is age 6 or older- physicals should be every 6 months.


We recommend monthly heartworm prevention and flea control.  Most of the heartworm preventions on the market also protect against intestinal parasites.  Please discuss with us what product is best for you dog.