Caring for your puppy - vaccinations, worming, fleas, heartworm, food, desexing and more

Congratulations on the arrival of your new family member. The following information is provided to help you with all the necessary health care your new puppy will require, including vaccination, check-ups, worming, flea control, heartworm prevention, dental care, nutrition, desexingmicrochipping, bathing, socialisation and training, home environment, and pet insurance

Vaccinations

Caring for your puppy

Vaccinations are very important and protect your puppy against infectious and potentially fatal diseases: Distemper, Infectious Canine Hepatitis and Parvovirus and the serious respiratory infection, Canine Cough. Puppies are vaccinated at 6-8, 12-14 and 16-18 weeks of age to give them their full immunity and then once every 12 months to maintain immunity throughout life.

Preventative healthcare for life

Regular health check-ups are the cornerstone of a preventative health program for your dog in the years ahead. Regular check-ups allow us to catch problems early and inform you of the newest and best options in pet medicine pertinent to your individual situation. In the latter years of life these increase in frequency as age related problems become more likely. Every year that passes is 5 or 6 years for your four legged friend. Let's make each one healthy!!

Parasite Control

We will tailor make a parasite control program for your pet, depending on his/her lifestyle. We recommend a range of products, and will select the most appropriate treatment to suit your pet. The following paragraphs provide general guidelines on parasite control.

Worms (Intestinal - Tummy)

Puppies are commonly born with worms which have been transferred from their mothers. It is important to clean up droppings regularly and maintain general hygiene. They should also receive regular doses of intestinal worming treatment, especially while they are young.

Puppies should be wormed:

  • every 2 weeks until 12 weeks of age, then
  • every month until 6 months of age, then
  • every 3 months for life.

Worming preparations are calculated on bodyweight so feel free to use our scales to keep track of your pup's weight. We recommend stock "Drontal" tablets or "Advocate" spot on. Learn more about worming here.

Fleas

Somehow, fleas always seem to find their bothersome way onto our dogs' coats and are a major source of skin problems. They come from any environment where dogs and cats have previously been. Flea eggs are deposited and hatch over a period of time and jump onto the next passing ‘meal ticket' (dog, cat, or even us).

Fortunately, there are now some excellent flea control products available which are safe and effective and easy to use. They come in a variety of forms, spot-ons, such as "Advantage", "Advocate" and "Advantix" that provide a month's protection against fleas and are water resistant.  Read more about fleas here.

Heartworm

Many areas of Melbourne have significant heartworm problems and unfortunately we are now seeing local cases of this dangerous parasite, which is spread by mosquitoes.

Prevention is by far the best approach to this problem and thankfully relatively simple. There are various products available such as "Proheart" Injection and "Advocate". The latter is applied monthly and will also help to control fleas. "Proheart" is a once a year injection for heartworm. For more information ask our healthcare team. Click here for more information about heartworm disease.

Dental Care

Teeth cleaning and gum massage are very important and probably best achieved by supplying the appropriate things to chew on. Dentabones and specifically designed dental toys are also useful. For dogs with problem teeth there is even a specific dental diet "Hills t/d" to encourage oral health. Read more about dental care here.

Feeding

Caring for your puppy

Puppies in their growth phase require a special diet which differs from that of adults. It is particularly important for their growing bones. Depending on the size your dog is going to be they could need puppy or growth style diets for at least 9-10 months, but up to 21 months in giant breeds! Ask us what is right for your pup.

Puppies should have smaller meals more often, as a guide:

  • 6-12 weeks old -- 3-4 feeds daily
  • 3-6 months old -- 2-3 feeds daily
  • 6 months and adult -- 2 feeds daily

As a starting point for your pup's diet we recommend using a good quality prepared pet food that is complete and balanced for this stage of life and made out of high quality ingredients, such as "ADVANCE". This can be supplemented with small amounts of fresh food and table scraps (no cooked or small bones) and a ready supply of fresh water. Learn more about feeding your puppy here.

Desexing

If you are not planning to breed from your pet, desexing is recommended as it makes for a more amenable pet and certainly reduces the likelihood of many unwanted behaviours, some serious diseases and obviously unwanted puppies. The desexing procedure is a day surgery involving a general anaesthetic and surgical removal of the uterus and ovaries or testicles. We recommend that this is done around 5-6 months of age. Read more about desexing here.

Identification/Registration

Your pup should be registered with the local council by the time they are 3 months. Some councils offer discounted registration for desexed animals. A dog tag is supplied for their collar but we suggest more permanent identification.

The best is a microchip which is implanted under the skin of your pup by injection and includes lifetime registration with a central registry. In addition pet tags with your phone number on them are a good idea for quick returns of wandering pooches.

Bathing

Puppies generally do not require much bathing, however if this becomes necessary make sure you use a mild DOG shampoo such as "Episoothe" or "Allergroom". Dog skins are very different to ours. We recommend that your dog is bathed no more than once a week. Click here for tips on bathing your puppy.

Socialisation and Training

Puppy socialisation

Puppyhood is a critical time for socialisation particularly between 6 to 18 weeks. While you need to be aware of potential health issues (vaccinations etc) and do this in a controlled way to minimise risk, puppies need to experience lots of new situations, especially people and other animals in this period. Puppy Pre-School is a great opportunity to socialise and learn.

Training such as toileting, learning to sit and come to their name can start as soon as you acquire your pup. They are incredibly responsive and wilful as youngsters. Brief fun lessons (5-10 minutes) tend to be more rewarding and keep a young pup's attention. Doing this at least twice a day is a good habit to form, for you and your dog for the rest of their life.

Make sure you use plenty of praise. Positive reinforcement of good behaviours achieves much better results than old fashioned punishment.

Read about why it is essential to socialise puppies early.

Home environment, bedding and toys

At home, your puppy obviously needs somewhere comfortable to sleep, and importantly, during day or night access to somewhere protected from the weather. Access to drinking water is obviously required 24 hours a day. To keep your pup's bright little mind active, supply a good range of toys such as Kongs , treat balls , Buster Cubes, Rope Chews, etc, which can be rotated over a period of a week, so they are "fresh". If you are out and about you should have your puppy fitted with the correct lead and collar or harness. A car harness is a good idea for car travel too.

Pet Insurance

There are a number of good pet health insurance policies now available. It is certainly a good idea to insure your puppy as we can't predict what sort of mischief he/she may get up to in the future. Read more here.

Things to watch out for

If your puppy appears listless, lethargic, off their food, or if you have any concerns about your puppy's well being, please do not hesitate to call us.

Suggested Reading

  • "Dog Training Made Easy" Michael Tucker
  • "A Dog in Your Family" Dr Alicia Kennedy
  • "Dog Training, A Gentle Modern Method" David Weston
  • "Everydog" Dr Eric Allan and Dr Rowan Blogg