The age at which your canine friend reaches adolescence is between eight to twelve months. This is equivalent to a nine to twelve year old human.

By this time your dog should have received all of his/her vaccinations to provide adequate immunity against a number of diseases. These may vary slightly depending on where you live, but should include vaccinations for distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvo, corona, and rabies viruses. Also protection against lyme spirochete, and bordetella bacteria should have been completed.

Monthly Heartworm/Anti-parasitic medication should also have been initiated by this time in your dogs' life to further protect him/her from these debilitating and potentially fatal diseases. These preventative medications are available in both oral and topical forms. A very new six-month injectable preventative Heartworm is also now just becoming available from your veterinarian. You should always check with your veterinarian before beginning any preventative therapy of this type.

Your adolescent canine friend should also have been neutered or spayed by this time in his/her development to prevent unwanted pregnancy and reduce the less desirable behaviors associated with the onset of the adult secondary sex characteristics. Key to this behavior modification is the reduction in roaming by both sexes in search of a suitable mate. Neutering and Spaying can also have a pronounced effect on reduction of aggression and inappropriate inter-dog interactions.

The adolescent canine is still in an active growth phase during this portion of his development to adulthood. It is very important that you work with your veterinarian to maintain the optimal level and type of nutrition for your specific breed of dog. In large and giant breed dogs specially formulated food can minimize the potential for changes to the growing joints and ligaments that could result in damage from stresses incurred during play and exercise.

Certain inherited medical conditions can begin to surface during this period of development. It is important to have a basic understanding from your veterinarian of what your specific breed of dog may be genetically susceptible to from its lineage.

The preventative measures that you institute now and the more knowledge you are forearmed with about your specific breed of canine companion can help to set the tone for your dog to have an active, healthy, and long adult life.

Source:   Peter H. Eeg, DVM, Owner Poolesville Veterinary Clinic, Poolesville, Maryland

Tags: Training and Behavior

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