Tips for a Healthy Puppy


Puppy Food 101

Proper nutrition is imPurina ProPlanportant for a growing puppy. A Veterinary Grade Puppy Food is recommended for all pups up to a year old. The puppy food you buy should be based on your puppies estimated weight when they are full grown. If your pup will be under 35 pounds full grown you may choose to feed a Small Breed Puppy Food, while pets 35-75 pounds can be fed routine puppy food. If you pet will be over 75 pounds full grown, we recommend feeding a large breed puppy food. Our clinic recommends Purina ProPlan Puppy food but any Veterinary Grade Diet, such as Hill’s or Royal Canin, will provide all the nutrition your growing pup needs. Dry food is generally sufficient for most pups and can be moistened if needed. If you want to add wet food to their diet be sure to count it as a treat and reduce the amount of dry food they are eating.

While your pup is maturing, they don’t always have the receptors to tell their brain and belly “I’m Full” so it is important that during this time you feed the recommended amount of food based on your pet’s weight. As their weight increases the amount of food they receive should be increasing. The amount of food listed on that bag is the amount they should be fed per day. Take this amount and split it into 2 meals, morning and night. Feed your pup the same time every day and if they don’t eat at breakfast or dinner, take it up. Don’t leave it out for nibbling….this will lead to overeating and your pet becoming overweight as an adult. If you are ever unsure of how much your pup weighs, please don’t hesitate to drop by the office for a weight check. This can be rewarding for you pup as they get to visit for treats without any “scary” procedures being done- this can make vet visits fun!

If you pet is a gulper and not a chewer, there are a few tricks to help your pet SLLLOOOWWW down while eating. Gulpers can swallow food whole and choke or intake eslow feederxcess air which can irritate the stomach. To slow your pet down, consider adding enough water to moisten their food. The moistened food will cause them to work harder to get it down. Or add a tennis ball to their bowl on top of their food so they will have to nose around the ball to get to the good stuff. If all else fails, they sell slow feeder bowls in most pet stores. These bowls will have protrusions that stick up from the bottom that your pet has to eat around which slows them down.


Treats are both a pup and humans best friend. Utilize high reward treats, such as pieces of boiled chicken or training treats, for rewarding good behavior such as pottying outside or remaining calm when visitors come over. Limit other treats, such as milk bones, to special circumstances. If your pup is teething, you can freeze a moistened wash Extreme-KONGcloth and give your pet the frozen rag to chew on. This will help numb their gums and save your furniture! If you pet is chewer once they get older, they can receive Veterinary Grade Rawhides, such as Dentahex Chews, or Oravet Chews to help keep them busy. It is important to buy Veterinary Grade products these products are permeated with enzymes to help them break down. Many other rawhides and bones are available on the market, such as bully sticks, antlers, cow knuckle and pig ears, but these are NOT recommended for any dog (young or old). It is not uncommon that these items are processed with excess chemicals, can break and splinter (especially bones), and commonly cause gastrointestinal obstructions. If your pet eats treats quickly and you want them to last, consider a puzzle feeder or KONG to keep your pet busy for a while.

People Food

When you have a set of puppy eyes looking up at you while you enjoy your slice of pizza it is sooo hard to say no. There are several people foods that are safe to share with your pets (pizza is not one of them) as well as many foods that your pet should never eat!

The Best and Worst People Foods for your Dog

Keeping Hydrated

Your dog should have access to clean, fresh water at all times. If you’re having issues with potty training, you can remove your pet’s water source before bed but don’t forget to put it back within reach the next day. Most dogs are fine with good ol’ fashioned tap water but the bowl of water should be scrubbed and cleaned regularly to prevent bacterial and fungal growth. While you want your pet to have water while they are outside and inside, try not to leave excess bowls of water laying around outside or you will have one too many mosquitoes hanging around before you know it.Frozen Summer Treats

In the summer months you can freeze some of your pet’s treats (or fresh fruit from list above) in a bowl of water and give it to them outside for a refreshing play toy. You can also add ice to your dog’s water bowl and it is completely safe- just be sure those gulper’s don’t swallow the cubes whole.


Your pup will need a warm bed to sleep in (that’s not yours) and a space to call his/her own. This space can be a kennel, bedroom or even area of the house that will become their safe space. They should be able to retreat to this area when they are nervous, scared or even tired. We encourage crate training for a couple different reasons: 1) If your pet becomes comfortable in a kennel at home, they will be more comfortable in kennel at the boarders or groomers. This helps make it a happier trip for everyone. 2) Their safe space is portable. If you need to travel with your pet, whether planned or in an emergency, your pet is prepared and will be less stressed. 3) They have a place to call their own and can relax. They do not have to worry about you rolling over and kicking them off the bed or the 2 year old chasing them in there. It helps reduce stress levels as a whole when used properly.crate-training

Before you begin crate training your pet, remember to never use the crate as punishment, it should be relaxing for them not stressful. Also, don’t leave your dog in the crate too long. A dog’s pent up energy can cause anxiety, destruction or depression. Finally, once your dog is crate trained as a puppy they should be able to voluntarily enter and exit the crate at their discretion (once they no longer destroy your house).

We recommend that all pups are kept indoors but allowed supervised time outside. The great outdoors provides great stimulation but also possesses greater risk such exposure to additional diseases, parasites and potential for accidents. Your puppy should be safe to explore the outdoors and get out of the house once they begin to receive their first set of shots. Limit their exposure initially to well vaccinated and cared for dogs and cats. Socialization is vital at an early age so as soon your puppy is seen, vaccinated, and cleared by the vet, get them exposed to lots people, places, and things.

Veterinary Care

As the famous adage goes “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” so it is true with veterinary care. It is extremely important to set your pet up on the path to long, healthy life by insuring they receive preventative care both at the beginning and throughout their life. The type of preventative care they need is based on the age of your pet, their lifestyle and where they live. As a general rule, puppies will receive vaccines from the veterinarian until they are over 16-18 weeks old. It is important to have your pet’s vaccines given at a veterinary clinic because the quality of vaccines given elsewhere is poor. We have personally treated multiple cases of Parvovirus where the pet’s owner had administered a Parvo Vaccine from the local farmer’s store. By no means did the vaccine give the pet Parvo, but overall it is a poor quality vaccine that may had been mishandled in shipping and/or given incorrectly to the pet leaving the pet exposed to the virus that is present in the environment around us. All vaccines we administer are supported by their respective manufacturer and the doctor will always examine your pet to ensure they are healthy enough to have the vaccine before administration (with the exception of the Rabies and Bordetella vaccines in which no examination is required).

Dr. Carr has worked with the leaders in preventative care such as the American Animal Hospital Association and American Heartworm Association to develop the best protocols and procedures for pups in the Hampton Roads and surrounding areas:

  • Puppy Examination with every Distemper/Parvo Vaccine
    • Average of 2-4 exams based on the number of vaccines needed
  • Distemper/Parvo Vaccines every 3-4 weeks until over 16 weeks old
    • Average of 2-4 vaccines based on the age of the puppy
  • Leptospirosis Vaccine is added to the final two Distemper/Parvo Vaccines
    • 2 vaccines per puppy
  • Bordetella Vaccine
    • 1 oral vaccine per puppy
  • Rabies Vaccine
    • 1 vaccine for puppies over 16 weeks old
  • Intestinal Parasite Screening
    • 2 negative intestinal parasite screenings
  • Heartworm Prevention
    • Potentially deadly infection that is transmitted by mosquitoes.
    • Dangerous to indoor and outdoor dogs year-round.
    • Heartgard Plus is our monthly preventative of choice.
    • The tasty chewable is given on the same day once a month at home.
    • The chewable is based on your pet’s weight and is needed YEAR ROUND in our area.
    • You can purchase as a single dose until the pet is over 1 year old then you can purchase 6 or 12 packs for savings.
  • Flea and Tick Prevention
    • Fleas can cause allergic dermatitis, hot spots, tapeworms and anemia.
    • Fleas live in both our homes and the outside environment.
    • Ticks in our area transmit Lyme Disease, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
    • Ticks live primarily outside but can hitch a ride inside on a human or pet host.
    • Nexgard is our monthly prevention of choice.
    • This tasty chewable is given on the same day each month at home.
    • The chewable is based on weight and is needed YEAR ROUND in our area.
    • You can purchase as a single dose until the pet is over 1 year old then you can purchase 6 or 12 packs for savings.

Optional Protection- Some pets will encounter excessive exposure to ticks if they lead a heavy outdoor lifestyle. For pets that are at risk a Lyme Vaccine is optional. Some pets that are very dog-friendly, travel or visit dog parks, grooming salons or boarding facilities may be at risk for Canine Influenza. Suffolk Animal Hospital offers a vaccine that protects against both strains of Canine Influenza. Ask your pet’s Vet if these vaccines may be right for them.

Multiple Life Stages

Long Term Protection and Prevention is important even after your pup grows up. Many of the vaccines they received as a puppy need to be boostered to maintain effectiveness after 1 year old. They will also need annual Intestinal Parasite Screenings and Heartworm and Tick Borne Disease Screening. Even when your pet is on prevention year round, it is vital their screenings stay up to date since no medication (prevention or otherwise) is 100% effective. We also require yearly Heartworm and Tick Borne Disease Screening to prescribe your pet prevention since it can be life-threatening if your pet takes prevention while hiding an infection. We recommend yearly physical exams with our Veterinarians to help keep your pet in tip-top shape and help find and treat small problems before they become irreversible. If we catch issues early through routine examinations, we can sometimes make small lifestyle changes (like changing his/her food) versus having to make end-of-life decisions.

Potty Training 101

Puppy Potty training can be a challenge. From varying potty locations to the times they are taken outside, it can take a toll on a new owner-puppy relationship sometimes. So here’s the basics to potty training and if you and your pet are struggling, be sure to discuss this with the vet at your next visit.

Tips to remember:

  • Start potty training early and don’t give up!
  • Smaller dogs tend to take a bit longer to train than larger breeds but be patient and stay calm- you will be rewarded in the long run.
  • Remember that the goal of potty training is to encourage and reinforce good potty habits, not to punish bad habits.

Steps to Successful Potty Training:

  1. Pick a spot that will work for both you and your pet. Normally that area is outside out of the way of foot traffic and can be easily cleaned.
  2. Puppies generally have the strongest urge to potty after sleeping, drinking, feeding and playing. Take your puppy to the chosen potty spot within 30 minutes of these activities.
  3. In between activities, your puppy will generally need to potty every 3-4 hours. As your puppy ages they will be able to hold it longer and longer until they are able to last through the day.
  4. When you take your puppy to the chosen spot, pick a set of words to use for the desired activity and repeat them as your pet takes care of business (ex. “Go Potty” “Go Pee Pee” or “Do your business”)
  5. As soon as your pet successfully eliminates give them praise, petting and a high reward immediately. Do not wait until they return to the house to treat them or they will associate getting a treat with going outside and not going potty.
  6. Supervise your puppy while indoors and anytime they start to nose around, become less interested in play or start to wonder off take them outside to their spot.
  7. Once your puppy starts to associate the designated area with pottying you will need to decide how you want your pet to let you know they need to go out. I personally like a string of bells to hang on the door near the outside area. Every time you take pup to potty ring the bells. The pup will begin to associate bell ringing with needing to potty -font-b-Dog-b-font-font-b-Doorbells-b-font-font-b-For-b-fontand before you know they will be ringing the bell with their nose or paw to go outside.
  8. If your pet has an accident inside, place in puppy in another room and quickly clean up the accident. Be sure to remove all debris and scrub the area to remove any residual smell. Never rub your pet’s nose it or make a big deal over it as that will only excite them since they got your attention by having an accident.
  9. If your pet continues to have accidents in the house, ensure they stay in your eye sight at all times by leashing or crating them why they are inside and taking them out frequently. 


Behavior Training

All puppies, regardless of their size, can get benefits from formal behavior training. While most owners can teach sit and lay down in the safety of their home, the socialization skills they get from formal training is priceless. At an early age dogs decide how they will act in the pack and the proper way to respond to stimuli such as loud noises, visitors and other animals. If they are ingrained with the way we would like to see them respond they will have a much easier life than if we are disciplining or trying to retrain them later on. There are two local training facilities that we recommend based on the area of Suffolk you live in…

 If you live near downtown Suffolk:

10345538_1183912234970163_5796249581740639092_nIf you live near North Suffolk:








When to “Fix” your pet

First off, rest assured your pet is not broken. By deciding to spay or neuter your pet, you are making the conscious decision to help your pet live a longer life while promoting animal welfare in your community. We currently recommend that males and females that will not be used for breeding and are 0-85 pounds full grown should be neutered and spayed around 6 months of age. Giant breed male or female dogs that will 85+ pounds full grown should be neutered or spayed around 1 year of age. By neutering and spaying your pet you are removing their risk of testicular cancer and uterine infection and drastically reducing their risk of other cancers. Your pet will also not produce anoverpopulation_spay_neuter_tile_coaster (1)y unexpected litters in an already overpopulated area. Finally, your pet’s risk of straying from home or attracting unwanted visitors will be reduced since they will no longer go through a heat cycle or seek out females in heat. Spaying and Neutering your pet is a now a fairly safe and routine procedure and no hospitalization time is required. We take extra steps to make sure the procedure is as pain-free as possible by monitoring before, during and days after the procedure. Consider spaying or neutering your pup part of living a long, healthy life.

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Wednesday8:00am – 5:00pm
Thursday8:00am – 5:00pm
Friday8:00am – 5:00pm
Saturday8:00am – 12:00pm