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Basic dog health care

Your first step: Connect with a veterinarian. Select a veterinarian and schedule a health checkup as soon as possible after bringing your new dog home.

Did you know? Petco offers veterinary services in most of our stores during convenient evening and weekend hours.

What to discuss during your first veterinary visit

1) Is my dog up to date on all vaccinations and boosters?
Vaccinating your dog can help provide protection from several life-threatening diseases. Below is a list of the most common vaccines for dogs and a basic timeline for when they should ideally be received. Your veterinarian will help determine the best schedule for your pet's age and health needs.

Core vaccines

  • Combo vaccine – includes protection against four of the most common and life-threatening diseases in dogs (generally including Distemper, Adenovirus, Parvovirus and Parainfluenza)

    • The first vaccine is generally given at 6-8 weeks, with boosters every 3-4 weeks until dog reaches 12-16 weeks of age. Additional boosters are generally administered yearly depending on vaccine type.
  • Rabies shots for dogs – considered to be the most important vaccine for dogs and is required by law in the continental United States.

    • The first vaccine is generally given at 12-16 weeks with booster after one year. Boosters can be administered either every year or every three years, depending on vaccine label and state or local government requirements.
  • While not technically considered a vaccination, we strongly recommend preventative heartworm medication for all dogs to keep them safe from parasites.

Additional dog vaccines
Depending on where you live and your dog's lifestyle, you may want to ask your veterinarian if the vaccinations below are recommended:

  • Lyme disease – for dogs who live in wooded or tick-prone areas
  • Leptosporosis – for dogs who spend a lot of time swimming in freshwater
  • Bordetella – for dogs who will come into contact with other dogs, especially those who spend time in a boarding kennel, doggie day care center, grooming facility or dog parks

2) Does my dog need vitamins or supplements?
Most healthy dogs who eat a complete, balanced diet won't need additional supplements. Your veterinarian can help you decide which ones would make the most sense for your pet's needs.

Ask about supplements if:

  • You'd like to decrease symptoms of arthritis in your dog.
  • You'd like to help alleviate hip and joint pain or stiffness.
  • You'd like to improve your dog's skin & coat health.
  • You'd like to assist with digestion system issues in your pet.

Dog vitamins and supplements 101

Learn more about the various types of supplements available for pets.

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3) What do I need to do to keep my dog's teeth and gums healthy?
We suggest a toothbrush, canine toothpaste and dental care treats to help maintain oral health. Your veterinarian may have additional recommendations, such as a professional teeth-cleaning or specific care tips. Keep in mind that Petco also has teeth-cleaning services available in the grooming salon.

Doggy dental care 101

Here's a handy video and infographic to help you learn how and why to brush your dog's teeth.

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4) How can I tell fleas & ticks to bug off?
Fleas & ticks are more than simply a nuisance. They can cause parasitic diseases and infections in humans and animals. It's important (and cost effective) to prevent and eliminate pests before they infest your home. Avoid infestations by getting your dog on a preventative flea & tick routine immediately. Most treatments are applied or administered monthly. Our in-store partners are great resources to help you identify the best solution for your situation.

5) Should I get my dog a microchip ID?
Unfortunately, one in three family pets gets lost at some point in their lives. Microchipped dogs are two times more likely to be returned to their pet parents. We highly recommend you microchip your pets so you can enjoy many happy, healthy years together.

Did you know? Petco offers microchipping during our convenient in-store vet clinics. Bring your dog in and we can scan them to see if they already have a microchip and let you know how to update their information. Or, if they aren't microchipped, we can easily fix that for you! Check your local store's hours to find the most convenient time to visit one of our veterinary clinics (including convenient night and weekend hours).

Veterinary care 101

Learn more about keeping your pet healthy from head to tail.

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