Puppy 101: What You Need to Know

Congratulations on your new puppy! As you take on this adventure of puppy ownership, it is important to set your puppy up for a long and healthy life. Below are the core aspects of preventative care that all puppies should have to promote their well being and longevity.


Vaccinations allow protection of puppies and dogs from preventable infectious diseases that can be potentially fatal.


  1. Rabies – The rabies vaccine is required by law for all dogs in Ontario. The rabies virus causes a neurological disease that can be lethal to both animals and humans. There is no treatment for a rabies infection. The vaccination is given at 16 weeks of age, boosted in one year, and then every 3 years after.
  2. Da2PP (Distemper, adenovirus-2, parainfluenza, parvovirus) – This combination vaccine protects puppies from four deadly viruses and is given to all dogs. This vaccination is given at 8 weeks, 12 weeks, and 16 weeks of age, then boosted in one year, and then every 3 years after.


  1. Bordetella bronchiseptica (kennel cough) – Bordetella can cause a hacking/honking cough in affected animals. It is very contagious and is spread through nasal secretions and close contact between dogs. Though it will often resolve without complications, it can progress to more serious respiratory disease such as pneumonia. Dogs that will be in close contact with other dogs such as in the dog park, at play dates, at the groomer or boarder, should be vaccinated. It can be given as early as 3-4 weeks of age and is boosted yearly after.
  2. Leptospirosis – This is a bacterial disease that is transmitted to dogs through the urine of infected wild life. When an infected animal urinates, the bacteria is spread into the environment where it resides in bodies of water. Dogs who will be in close contact with water or wildlife, such as those who go swimming, to cottages, hiking or hunting, should be vaccinated for leptospirosis. This vaccine is given twice, 4 weeks apart, then boosted yearly after.


It is common for puppies to feel sleepy and have a decrease in their appetite after vaccinations. This should pass within a day. If your puppy has any vomiting, diarrhea, facial swelling or redness or changes to their breathing within 24 hours of the vaccine, you should seek emergency care immediately.



There are two major categories of parasites that we should protect puppies from: external parasites (fleas and ticks) and internal parasites (heartworm and intestinal parasites). The medications to prevent against these parasites is dosed on weight, so there should be scheduled monthly weigh-in appointments to monitor your puppy’s growth and to ensure we can send home the appropriate medications. The weigh in appointments should occur until your puppy reaches their full size.


All dogs should be on year round preventative medication to protect them from fleas and ticks. This can be a topical or oral medication given every 1-3 months depending on the product. Ticks can be out in the environment in temperatures as low as 4 degrees celsius, therefore year round prevention is crucial.

  1. Fleas – Small external parasites that live a majority of their life cycle in the environment, and infest animals to lay their eggs and reproduce. Not only can they cause irritation and itchiness of the skin, but they can also transmit intestinal tape worms to your pet which, can cause diarrhea.
  2. Ticks – External parasites that can become engorged with blood and appear as a large smooth pimple. Ticks can transmit bacterial diseases such as Lyme disease, Ehrlichia and Anaplasma to your dog. These diseases can cause severe chronic systemic illness.


Most internal parasite medications protect dogs from intestinal parasites and heartworms. All dogs should be on this medication, either oral or topical, from at least June to November as that is when mosquitos are most active and there is the highest risk of contracting heartworm disease.

  1. Intestinal parasites (round worms, hook worms, tape worms, whip worms) – Affected puppies typically show symptoms of soft stool, bloody stool, vomiting or diarrhea. It is recommended that your puppy is dewormed every 2 weeks until they are 12 weeks old, then monthly after that until 6 months of age. A stool sample evaluation should be performed at 12-16 weeks of age to screen for any parasites or parasite eggs.
  2. Heartworm disease – This lethal parasite is spread through mosquito bites, and resides in the main blood vessels in the heart and lungs. The life cycle of this parasite is 7-9 months. This is why it is recommended that a heart worm blood test is performed at 8-9 months of age then once yearly to screen for presence of this disease. Your dog should be on a preventative medication throughout heart worm season (June to November) or year round if your pet travels to warm climates with you during the winter.



The pet food store can be a daunting place. There are so many options, and of course you want to choose what is best for your puppy! The unfortunate reality is that pet foods are not well regulated, so many companies use marketing to persuade owners into diets that may not be best for their pet. Here are some helpful guidelines when selecting a diet:

  1. Avoid raw – There are no peer-reviewed published articles that prove that raw diets are superior to traditional kibble diets. Most evidence shows that raw diets should be avoided as they are usually not nutritionally balanced and pose a high risk of bacterial contamination to the dog and all people who interact with it. Dogs fed raw diets should not be allowed to interact with any young, elderly, or immunocompromised people for that reason. A puppy fed a raw diet is at a high risk of being nutritionally deficient which, can greatly impair their growth and longevity.
  2. Make sure the diet has grain – Grain-free diets have been linked to the development of heart disease in dogs who would normally not be predisposed to it. Though research still needs to be done to determine if it is the lack of grain in the diet or the legumes and additives that are added to replace the grain that increases this risk, the diets should be avoided.
  3. AAFCO Standards – The American Association of Feed Control Officers (AAFCO) publishes nutritional guidelines for pets. If a diet is meeting the AAFCO standards by clinical trials, it means that the food brand is testing not only that the diets themselves meet the nutritional requirements of dogs, but that the dogs eating them are able to digest and absorb the nutrients and not be deficient. If you choose to transition your puppy onto a new diet, it is important to do so gradually over the course of a week to ensure you avoid gastrointestinal upset.

Some Recommended Puppy Diets:

  • Hills Puppy Advantage
  • Royal Canin Development Puppy
  • Purina Pro Plan Puppy

Whenever considering a new diet, it is best to consult your veterinarian.


  1. American Animal Hospital Association Canine Vaccine Guidelines – https://www.aaha.org/aaha-guidelines/vaccinationcanine-configuration/vaccination-canine/
  2. CAPC Vet Flea Guidelines – https://capcvet.org/guidelines/fleas/
  3. CAPC Vet Tick Guidelines – https://capcvet.org/guidelines/ticks/
  4. American Heartworm Society – https://www.heartwormsociety.org/pet-owner-resources/heartworm-basics
  5. AVMA Raw Pet Food Policy – https://www.avma.org/raw-pet-foods-and-avmaspolicy-faq
  6. ASPCA Article on Grain Free Diets – https://www.aspca.org/news/grain-free-petfoodhelpful-or-harmful-diet


Kitten 101: What You Need to Know

By Dr. Bianca Ferlisi Congratulations on your new kitten! As you take on this adventure of kitten ownership, it is important to set your kitten up for long and healthy life. Below are the core aspects of preventative care that all kittens should have to promote their well-being and longevity.

Read More
See All Articles

Last updated: April 11, 2022

We are so happy to announce that our doctors are now seeing clients and patients in the hospital. Please read on for more information about how your next appointment will work.

Masks are mandatory for indoor service
Limit 1 person admitted per appointment

1. Please come to the FRONT door on time for your appointment and call us to check-in. The seating area in our waiting room is not yet available
2. At your appointment time, we will guide you and your pet directly into an examination room where you may wait for the veterinarian.
3. Please be advised, there is a time limit set for each appointment that we must adhere to in order to avoid keeping the next patient waiting.
4. After your appointment, you may now check out at the front desk.
5. If you are LATE for your appointment, we will attempt to accommodate you for a shorter time with the doctor. If you are more than 5 minutes late, please reschedule.
6. We respect your concerns for safety. If you prefer a curbside appointment, please let us know when you call to book your pet.


In order to accommodate clients and pets for appointments, we need to limit the capacity of people in our reception area. For this reason, we have elected to temporarily provide curbside service only for pet supply orders.

Please call ahead to order pet foods and prescriptions. We will bring them outside when you arrive to pick them up. Thank you for your consideration.


Our veterinarians are currently seeing all patients by appointment ONLY. We are currently operating with both curbside and in office appointments. We have limited capacity to accommodate indoor appointments but please let us know your preference at the time of booking and we will do our very best to accommodate your request. Please note, for safety reasons, you will be asked to wait behind a clear screen while speaking with the veterinarian. Your pet will be examined by the veterinarian while one of our assistants holds them. We appreciate your patience and understanding as these appointments take a little longer than normal.  

How do curbside / closed-door appointments work?
Please come to the back door for your appointment and call 416-537-3128 upon arrival. A veterinarian will speak with you over the phone and a veterinary assistant will come out to collect your pet for an examination. After examining your pet, the doctor will follow-up on the phone with their findings and recommendations. Thank you for entrusting us with the care of your pets. Please let us know in advance if they have any special needs.

Payment Methods:
We are currently accepting all payment methods. However, credit or debit cards are preferred.


Thank you for your patience and understanding and we look forward to seeing you and your furry family members again!

- The team at Annex Animal Hospital