Ask the Vet: Learn about vaccinations, how to give your puppy a pill

This installment of Ask the Vet is all about puppies! If you're thinking of getting a puppy, Dr. Timothy Schwab and I are discussing three topics you'll want to learn more about: vaccinations, crazy things your dog can ingest, and how to give your puppy a pill. And for more information on how to adopt the pets featured in this segment, contact Main Line Animal Rescue.


All puppies and kittens should be vaccinated to protect against common, life-threatening illnesses. These shots typically start when your pet is six to eight weeks old, then they should receive boosters every three to four weeks for two more rounds.

Animals can have a range of reactions to the shots. It's not uncommon for them to be sore or lethargic, but it's important to get them treatment asap. These reactions are more common in smaller dogs getting multiple vaccines at once. More severe reactions include hives, swollen face, vomiting, and anaphylaxis (which can kill them without treatment).

It is important to see your veterinarian, as many reactions can be halted with anti-histamines and steroids. And if your animal has ever had a vaccine reaction, they are at risk to have them again. Discuss this with your veterinarian to develop a plan.

Foreign body ingestion

Puppies love to chew and explore the world with their mouths. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for them to swallow things that they shouldn't. Some small objects can pass but others get stuck! (This is one of the most common claims to vet insurance companies.)

Foreign material can become lodged within the stomach or the intestine which is an immediately life threatening emergency. Animals will stop eating (or vomit right after eating), become lethargic, and develop vomiting and/or diarrhea. This can occur 10 to 24 hours after eating foreign material, but some sit in the stomach before causing a problem.

If your pet exhibits any of these signs, seek immediate veterinary attention. Time is of the essence! Dogs might need x-rays, blood work, contrast studies, or an ultrasound. If there is an obstruction, immediate surgery is required.

It is important to puppy-proof your house and remove small objects that could be swallowed. Also, remove small pieces of toys that are chewed off.

Pill popping for your pet

This can be a major problem for any animal owner who needs to dispense medication. It is important that animals are given their medications as prescribed so that the illness can be effectively treated.

Here are a few ways to do it:

1. Place pill in the back of your pet's mouth and close.

2. Hide the pill in peanut butter or another food your pet enjoys.

3. Use pill pockets or pill guns.

Note: Make sure you watch them afterwards, as some animals are amazing at hiding the pills and spitting them out later.