Aldie Veterinary Hospital
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Veterinary Care for Puppies

The Physical
At Aldie Veterinary Hospital, we require a general physical exam for your dog once a year. This is a great way for us to observe your pet’s overall health, plus you can ask about any concerns you may have, physical or behavioral. It also helps us keep track of chronic issues, such as growing lumps or eye changes, as your dog gets older.

We will make a vaccination plan specific to your pet’s living environment. We divide the canine vaccines into two categories: the core vaccines, which all patients will receive, and the patient specific vaccines, which will be given to those animals at risk of contracting those diseases.

~Core Vaccinations 
Bordetella: This vaccine protects against the bacterial upper respiratory disease commonly known as kennel cough. It is a liquid that is usually given down the nose, however it can also be given as an injection under the skin. It is recommended to booster this vaccine every six months unless your animal leads a secluded life.
Distemper Combo Vaccine (DA2PP): This is a combination vaccine containing Distemper, Corona, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus, and Adenovirus. Most dogs will also receive a Leptospirosis component.

*Canine Distemper: Related to the human measle virus. Spread through the air, this disease starts as one of the upper respiratory system, displaying symptoms that include coughing and discharge from the eyes and/or nose. As the disease progresses other signs such as bloody vomiting and diarrhea and later neurologic problems occur.

*Parainfluenza: A highly contagious upper respiratory virus. Symptoms include coughing that may be intensified by activity. Secondary bacterial infections are not uncommon.

*Parvovirus: A very serious disease that attacks the lining of the small intestine. It is generally characterized as having sudden onset of bloody diarrhea, vomiting, depression, lethargy, and anorexia. It is spread when a dog eats infected feces.

*Adenovirus: This virus causes a form of hepatitis and can be spread by any bodily secretion. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, stomach enlargement and light-colored stool.

*Leptospirosis: The disease is spread through the urine of an infected animal. Early signs include depression, fever, and loss of appetite. Later it can involve the kidneys, resulting in excessive urination, excessive thirst, dehydration, and vomiting. This particular disease is zoonotic, that is, humans can contract it also.
The series:

This Distemper vaccine is the first series puppies are usually given. It can be started no earlier than six weeks of age. Three consecutive injections are given under the skin, three to four weeks apart. If your dog is older than twelve weeks, they will be given two vaccinations in this series. Once the initial series is complete, whether as a baby or an adult, we will booster it one year later, then every three years until they enter their geriatric years.

Rabies Vaccine: This vaccine contains just the rabies component. The rabies virus is spread through the saliva of an infected animal, but under extremely rare circumstances, it can also be spread by air. It is a disease that attacks the nervous system. There are three different forms of this disease with various symptoms:

*Prodromal: characterized by a change in behavior which may include anxiety, solitude and apprehension.

*Paralytic: characterized by lethargy, difficulty swallowing, drooling, and loss of motor skills.

*Furious: characterized by aggression, altered voice, loss of coordination, and hypersensitivity to light and sounds.

The series:

This vaccine is generally given two weeks after the completion of the distemper series. The first vaccine is good for one year. At the end of that year, they will receive three-year vaccines for the rest of their lives.

~Patient Specific
Lyme Vaccine: This is a disease that is spread when a tick bites a host and transmits the bacteria during feeding. It is not uncommon for dogs to test positive on a blood test but not display any symptoms. If symptoms are present, they are generally characterized by lethargy, soreness in joints, and depression. If the disease is allowed to progress it can attack the kidneys.
The series:

It consists of two vaccines, given under the skin, two to three weeks apart. Once the initial series is complete, it is given annually, usually at the same time as the rabies vaccine. It is best given in early spring (February to March) so protection is greatest during tick season as the months warm up.

Canine Influenza Vaccine (CIV): This is a newer upper respiratory disease of the dog. Its symptoms can include coughing, sneezing, nasal and/or ocular discharge. CIV can be particularly problematic when secondary complications, such as hemorrhagic pneumonia, occur. It is highly contagious between dogs. We have not seen a CIV case in a few years. At this time, we no longer recommend this vaccine. There are still some boarding facilities and hospitals that recommend or require this vaccine.
The series:

It consists of two vaccines, given under the skin, two to three weeks apart. Once the initial series is complete, it is given annually.

Leptospirosis: This causes fatal kidney and liver disease. It is spread through the urine of infected animals. The highest probability of catching this disease is during the spring and fall during times of heavy water runoff. The vaccines do not last as long as they would for a virus, so if your dog requires this vaccine, it will be boostered once a year.
The series:

It consists of two vaccines, given under the skin, two to four weeks apart. Once the initial series is complete, it is given annually.

Other Treatments:
There are several different types of intestinal parasites that we worry about in dogs. These include hookworms, tapeworms, whipworms, and roundworms, but we also want to protect them from coccidia and giardia, which are both protozoal parasites. We will deworm your dog with a product called Drontal once a year. We will then have you follow up with us by bringing in a fecal sample to double check. Generally we ask for this sample three weeks after being dewormed, as this is enough time for the de-wormer to do its job.
Heartworm Test: This is a blood test that looks for several different diseases. They include heartworm disease, Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis and Erlichia. Even if your dog has been on heartworm preventative consistently for the course of its life, nothing is 100% and it is important to check for the disease once a year. If a heartworm manages to survive to adulthood and your dog receives a heartworm preventative tablet or chew, the worm can be killed pass into blood vessels, and then act as a clot in the brain and other major organs. The worm’s larvae can also be killed all at once in the bloodstream and cause life threatening anaphylactic shock. This test also looks for three tick borne diseases.
Heartworm Preventative: Heartworms are a type of internal parasite that live in the heart. The disease is transmitted when an infected mosquito bites your pet. We test for this disease every year and if we find them positive, we will treat accordingly. However, this disease is very expensive and hazardous to treat and the best way to combat it is through prevention. We carry three different brands at this office: Tri-Heart, Heartgard, and Interceptor.

We will provide your first dose of heartworm preventative for free. This medication is to be given by mouth to your pet once a month all year round. Until we are sure what your puppy’s adult weight will be, we will send single monthly doses with you.

Flea and Ticks: Fleas are associated with extreme itchiness, allergic skin conditions, and tapeworms. Ticks spread a menagerie of diseases such as Lyme, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), Anaplasmosis, and Ehrlichia. We recommend and carry a medication called Frontline for prevention due to its long-term safety data.

This medication works by spreading through the oil glands in the skin; for this reason, do not bathe your dog three days before or three days after administering. Spread the hair between the shoulder blades and apply the tip of the applicator directly on the skin. Apply the entire tube, ensuring as much of the medication gets directly on the skin as possible.

Sick Puppies
We have made great strides in preventative medicine for our pets. We vaccinate, deworm, give medications, and do physical exams on a regular basis. Unfortunately, though, no matter how careful you may be, your puppy will get sick at some point in his or her life. When you bring your pet into see us, your history from home could be our greatest aid in understanding what is wrong. Unlike sick humans, sick puppies cannot tell us where it hurts and how they feel. Therefore, any behavior changes you notice are important to discuss with us, no matter how unimportant they may seem.

General categories will be discussed here; it will include the type of symptoms you may see, the most common causes, what you can do at home, when your puppy should be seen by a vet, and the types of questions that may be asked when you get there.

Gastrointestinal Upset
This includes vomiting and diarrhea. Other symptoms of gastrointestinal upset may be loss of interest in food (anorexia), tender abdomen, and lethargy.


The most common causes for vomiting include an abrupt diet change; dietary indiscretion – eating something they shouldn’t; obstruction – something is lodged in their stomach or intestines, intestinal parasites, Corona or Parvovirus, ulcers, sour stomach from fasting or stress, or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

When you bring in your puppy, we then distinguish between self-limiting and life threatening.

Self-limiting generally includes bouts of vomiting that include one or two episodes, a generally normal attitude, no diarrhea or other symptoms in general, and no abdominal pain. In these cases you can try resting their intestinal tract by not feeding anything from twelve to twenty four hours. Start by feeding small meals of a bland diet (we can either send home a bland diet or you can cook them boiled chicken breast and white rice). Once your puppy has been ok for a couple days you can begin slowly switching them back to their regular diet. Take about a week: gradually remove amounts of the bland diet and replace them with the regular food. If the vomiting reoccurs, have your animal seen immediately by a veterinarian.

Life threatening means that without medical intervention, your pet can become dangerously dehydrated. This generally includes continual vomiting to the point of retching, abdominal bloating, vomiting with diarrhea and lethargy, obvious abdominal pain, vomiting in an animal losing weight, or multiple episodes of vomiting in animals under twelve weeks old. Depending on the type of symptoms your animal is displaying, we may need to test blood values, take radiographs, and/or hospitalize with IV fluids and medications.

Questions to expect:

 –  How long has your pet been vomiting?
–    How frequently?
–    What does your pets vomit look like? (bile/undigested food/saliva/blood/nothing)
–    When was the last time they ate?
–    How is their appetite?
–    What type of food do they normally eat?
–    Did you change food recently?
–    Do they get treats? If so, what kind?
–    Is there anything around the house that your pet could have eaten?
–    Do you let your animal have raw hides?
–    Are you missing any toys?
–    How is your pet’s attitude?
–    Is your pet having diarrhea?

The most common causes for diarrhea include an abrupt diet change, whether that is from one brand to another or from one flavor to another; dietary indiscretion – eating something they shouldn’t; intestinal parasites; Corona or Parvovirus; inflammatory bowel disease (IBD); or food intolerance/allergy.

There are a couple different levels of severity when it comes to diarrhea. It can be mild; in this case the stool is very soft but has a little bit of form to it or the animal may be having diarrhea but normal activity level. In severe cases, the stool is like water, very dark in color, has large amounts of blood in it, or occurs very frequently. There may also be straining with no stool produced.

Depending on the severity of the diarrhea, you could either be sent home with some oral antibiotics and a bland diet or, if it is much worse, we will need to put your animal on IV fluids and medications to ensure hydration levels are maintained.

Questions to expect:

–   How long has your pet been having diarrhea?
–   How frequently?
–   What is the consistency of the diarrhea?
–   Does this vary at all?
–    Have you seen any blood in the stool?
–    When was the last time they ate?
–    How is their appetite?
–    What type of food do they normally eat?
–    Did you change food recently?
–    Do they get treats? If so, what kind?
–    Is there anything around the house that your pet could have eaten?
–    Do you let your animal have raw hides?
–    Are you missing any toys?
–    How is your pet’s attitude?
–    Is your pet vomiting?

Ear Problems
Ear infections are relatively common ailments for dogs. Symptoms of an ear infection include scratching at the ears or neck region, shaking of the head, obvious redness or swelling of the opening of the ear canal and sometimes the ear flap, excessive debris, and a foul odor from the ears. Dogs that have just had a bath or gone swimming are especially at risk, as water can get down the ear canals and create the perfect environment for microorganisms to grow out of hand.

When you bring your pet in, generally we will take a swab of the inside of the ear and make a microscope slide from it. This way we know specifically what type of infection it is and how many organisms there are. Occasionally, if we see a particularly ominous type of bacteria, we may need to send out a sample for a culture.

Questions to expect:

–  How long has he been displaying these symptoms?
–  Does he or she have a history of ear infections?
–  Have you seen any discharge?
–  If so, what color?
–  Have you noticed a foul odor?
–  Has your pet gone swimming or had a bath recently?
–  Has your pet been itching anywhere else?
–  Does your pet chew on his or her feet?
–  Have you noticed any skin issues anywhere?

Respiratory Issues
Lower respiratory issues are usually associated with some type of coughing. This coughing can be dry, produce mucous, or sound somewhat muffled. Along with the lower, you could also have upper respiratory symptoms such as sneezing, nasal or eye discharge, whistling or wheezing noises produced while breathing, and/or swelling to the nose or face.

The most common causes of upper respiratory issues are generally viral. Some of the most common viruses are kennel cough, distemper, or parainfluenza. Other causes could be an elongated soft palate or reverse sneezing. These two do not cause actual coughing, but more of a scraping noise in the back of their throat.

You need to worry about your puppy when they cough frequently, especially if they have any other symptoms. These symptoms could be discharge from the eyes and/or nose, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and others.

Questions to expect:

–  How long has your pet been coughing?
–  How frequently?
–  What type of cough is it? Can you imitate it?
–  Is there any sneezing?
–  Is there any eye or nose discharge?
–  If so, what color is it?
–  How is their appetite?
–  When was the last time they ate?
–  How is their attitude?
–  Is your pet vomiting?
–   Is your pet having diarrhea?

Eye Problems
Sometimes your pet will exhibit squinting or excessive redness around their eye. You may also see the third eyelid swell or they may have discharge from the eyes. Eye problems can be very serious, as they get worse very quickly. If you notice your animal’s eyes are abnormal, it is best to get them to a vet as soon as possible so they can be treated appropriately.

Depending on the symptoms your dog is exhibiting, your vet may try several approaches. One of the most common tests performed is called fluorescein eye staining. This is a stain applied to the eye to see if there has been any trauma to its surface. Often times, this determines the type of medication that can be used in the eye.

Questions to expect:

–  How long has your pet’s eye looked like this?
–  Has he or she been rubbing at it?
–  Any squinting?
–  Is it one of both eyes?
–  Have you seen redness around the eye or eyelids?
–  Have you seen any discharge?
–  If so, what color?
–  What consistency?
–  Has your pet been coughing or sneezing?
–  Any nose discharge?
–  If so, what color?
–  Any lethargy?
–   Could anything have gotten lodged in her eye that you know of?
–   How your pet been in tall grass or fields recently?
–   How is your pet’s appetite?

Skin Problems
Skin issues can come in many different forms: they can have dry, flakey skin; moist sores; scabbing; itchiness; general redness; pustules; pimples; lumps; or general abrasions.

Due to the wide array of skin issues, there are a lot of different ways to approach them.

Questions to expect:

–  How long has the skin looked like this?
–  Are there any other areas that you have noticed?
–  How did the issue progress?
–  Does your pet have a history of this sort of issue?
–  What type of food is your animal eating?
–  How long has he or she been on this diet?
–  Any treats? If so, what kind?
–  Does it seem to be bother him or her? Is it itchy?

Spaying and Neutering

If you are not planning on breeding your animal in the future, it is important to have them spayed or neutered for several reasons. It eliminates the risk of unwanted pregnancies as well as potentially eliminating the chance of unwanted dominant behaviors. It is also beneficial as reproductive cancers are relatively common among intact animals; females can also develop a life-threatening disease of the uterus, called pyometra. Removal of the sexual organs eliminates these types of illnesses from occurring.

We generally perform this surgery on animals around six months old. We do not recommend waiting much longer, as this is about the age when dogs and cats come into sexual maturity. There is often an extra fee associated with spaying a female dog or cat in heat, as the surgeon must be careful not to tear the tissue of the blood engorged organs.

Pre-Anesthetic Blood Work

We require all animals brought in for surgery to have a basic blood panel run. Though most puppies and kittens are healthy and have no internal medical conditions that are of concern, they may be suffering from a birth defect that shows no outward clinical signs. Many times, if there is a problem with a puppy or kitten’s kidneys or liver they may not be acting sick, but the bloodwork will tell the doctor that the values of those organs are out of normal range. This could postpone the surgery temporarily or the doctor could recommend never anesthetizing your animal.

If we have no indication that there could be problems with your puppy or kitten’s health, we will run the standard preoperative bloodwork.

Prep Profile:
Blood Glucose (GLU)–The results of this test can tell the doctor if an animal is hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) or hyperglycemic (high blood sugar). Hyperglycemia is a symptom of diabetes, and other diseases, which is a condition that needs serious and immediate attention.
Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) and Creatinine (CRE)–These two substances are cleared from the blood by the kidneys. If there are increases in their values, there could be serious compromise of one or both of the kidneys. The kidneys are responsible for excreting most of the sedatives and anesthetics into the urine and therefore out of the body. If these enzymes are elevated, additional bloodwork, urine analysis, radiographs, or intravenous fluids may be needed.
Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT)–This is a liver enzyme. If this enzyme is increased, it could indicate inflammation or damage of the liver. Because the liver is responsible for metabolizing most sedatives and anesthetics it is imperative that it is functioning properly. If enzymes are elevated, additional bloodwork, radiographs, or an ultrasound may be needed.  Alkaline Phosphate (ALP)-This enzyme is made by a number of different tissues in the body. An elevated value could indicate liver, muscle, and bone disease. Animals that are rapidly growing can have an elevated value due to bone development.


Total Protein (TP): This tests the general health of your animal by looking at the amount of protein in the blood. If the TP happens to be very low, it could indicate liver or kidney issues.

Packed Cell Volume (PCV): This measures the hydration level of the animal by separating the solid portions of blood from the liquid.


We encourage all pet owners to microchip their animal companions. The sad fact is that only 17% of dogs and 2% of cats make it back to their owners when they become lost. Microchipping greatly increases the chances that your pet will be returned to you.

Microchipping a pet is simple, relatively painless and very affordable. Unlike collars and tags, microchips can’t fall off and they serve as permanent identification for a pet’s entire life.