When it comes to the health of our puppies, we all want to make sure we take the necessary steps to protect them but we also don’t want to cause unnecessary harm. Some medications are unsafe for puppies at different ages and some medical tests need to be done in a time sensitive matter. Unfortunately, for each medication or diagnostic test, the age and weight requirements for puppies can vary widely. Still, when it comes to shots and heartworm test and medication there are some clear guidelines that all pet owners should follow.
Puppies who feed off their mothers are naturally protected from disease until the age of six to sixteen weeks. Certain antibodies are passed to the puppies through the mother’s milk, but after this age puppies need to be protected through other measures. Unfortunately, the exact age when a puppy no longer get disease protection from their mothers is unclear. This is because the length and timing of disease susceptibility will vary between litters and even within individuals in a litter. Most puppies will begin to be vaccinated at around 6 weeks of age with boosters every 3 weeks until the puppy reaches 16 weeks of age.
As far as heartworm medications are concerned, veterinarians will recommend starting puppies on meds between 4 and 8 weeks of age to prevent infection. On the other hand, heartworm tests are not recommended until around 7 months of age. This is because it usually takes 4-6 months before heartworms are medically detectable meaning earlier tests could result in false negatives. Moreover, to keep your puppy safe from disease, you should avoid contact with stray or sick dogs and never board a puppy before it is at least 5 or 6 months of age.