Caring for your new puppy
New puppies bring with them years of fun and entertainment. The following information is provided to help you with all the necessary healthcare your new puppy will require, including vaccination, worming, heartworm prevention, flea and tick control, nutrition, desexing and microchipping.
To safeguard your pet from potentially serious and sometimes fatal diseases we recommend vaccinations. Dogs are vaccinated against:
Canine Parvovirus - This is a viral gastroenteritis that is highly contagious. Depression, loss of appetite, severe vomiting and diarrhoea containing blood are some of the signs. Without treatment death can occur within 24 hours.
Canine Distemper - This is a highly contagious disease producing signs such as fever, depression, loss of appetite and discharge from the eyes and nose. In severe cases the brain may become affected resulting in convulsions and death. Treatment is almost always ineffective; thus vaccination is essential.
Canine Hepatitis - In puppies hepatitis can cause sudden death, whilst adult dogs can experience weakness, fever, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, bleeding and acute abdominal pain due to changes in the liver. In severe cases death may occur within 24 to 36 hours from the onset of symptoms.
Canine Parainfluenza Virus and Bordetella infection (Canine Cough) - Signs include a dry hacking cough that often finishes with gagging and persists for several weeks. This is a highly contagious disease especially in close conditions such as boarding kennels and show rings. This vaccination is compulsory if you wish to board your dog at kennels.
Your puppy will require a full course of vaccinations in order to be adequately protected. First vaccination is given at 6 - 8 weeks, second booster vaccination at 10-12 weeks and final vaccine at 14-16 weeks. 10 days after the final vaccination your puppy is considered fully protected and can socialise with other dogs and go for walks in public places such as the park and beach.
However, we do often suggest that you begin to socialise your pup earlier in controlled situations such as at puppy preschool or with friends' pets that are healthy and that have been fully vaccinated. A booster vaccination for all the above diseases is recommended one year after the 16 week vaccination. After this vaccination we recommend the core vaccinations for distemper, hepatitis and parvo virus are given every 3 years. However, the kennel cough vaccinations still need to be given annually for adequate protection.
Heartworm can affect dogs and is spread by mosquitoes. Dogs affected by heartworm have an infestation of long thin worms that feed on blood, lodged in the heart and pulmonary artery. This interferes with circulation and damages tissue, eventually causing heart failure. Left untreated, this can result in the death of your pet. Heartworm prevention should commence from 10-12 weeks of age with monthly preventative medication. From 6 months of age an injection can be administered to protect against heartworm, and a booster injection is needed annually.
The most common worms that affect dogs in Australia are roundworm, hookworm, tapeworm and whipworm. Worms are a common cause of ill health in pets and can cause signs such as loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea and in severe cases even death. Puppies should be wormed every two weeks until they reach 12 weeks of age, then monthly until 6 months of age, and then every 3 months for life. This can be done with an intestinal all-wormer (such as Fenpral or Drontal) or with a combined intestinal and heartworm preventative (such as Interceptor). Ask one of our staff which type is best suited to your individual situation.
Fleas are unfortunately an ever present nuisance for our pets. If they exist in the environment they will find a way on to your dog's coat. Fleas can be prevented easily and effectively with Nexgard or Comfortis (given orally each month) or Bravecto (given orally every three months).
Topical treatments are also available, such as Advantix. Other tablets, rinses and sprays may be necessary in some cases but are rarely effective on their own. All pets in the household must be treated at the same time, and the environment must also be decontaminated. Ask our staff for more information.
Puppies can be given a topical flea treatment as early as 2 days of age with Frontline spray. Our veterinary healthcare team can provide you with more information about effective flea control including which product (or combination of products) is best for your situation.
Ticks are endemic in our region and prevention is essential from July through to the heatwave days of summer, after which ticks dry up and only a few remain active. We recommend using one of the oral combination preventatives such as Nexgard or Bravecto which will kill both ticks and fleas for one and three months respectively. Tick collars, topical spot-on preparations and some washes are also available. Tick searching every day is also essential, especially after walks, and is a good back-up to chemical control. See our information flyer for more detailed information on tick paralysis symptoms and prevention.
Nutrition - a healthy diet
Getting the correct nutrition as a puppy is vital for its growth and development. Therefore, it is highly recommended that puppies are fed a premium brand of puppy food. We stock and feed our own pets and hospital patients Hill's foods.
Puppy milk is unnecessary if you are feeding a good quality puppy food. Cow's milk may cause diarrhoea as some dogs are lactose intolerant. Clean water must be available at all times. It is normal for your puppy to drink a lot of water if they are fed a dry diet instead of a wet one (kibble vs canned food).
We recommend all dogs, male and female, be desexed. The optimum age is 5 to 6 months of age when the animal is approaching sexual maturity but before the female can come ‘on heat’ and before the males develop unwanted behavioural attitudes that may be difficult to correct later in life. As well as reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies, desexing helps prevent pets from roaming, fighting or causing nuisance to neighbours.
In females it significantly reduces the risk of uterine and mammarycancers and in males it reduces the risk of cancer of the prostate, anus and testicles.
See the file "Desexing- why?" in our information section for more detailed information on why we recommend desexing.
Microchipping is a legislated, compulsory, permanent means of pet identification in the form of a tiny chip about the size of a grain of rice, which is implanted under the skin at the back of the neck or between the shoulder blades.
Information such as the animal's age, name, sex and description, as well as the owner's contact details are stored on the Companion Animal's Register with council, and are linked to the unique number stored in the microchip. We can access this database to get contact details for any stray pets that are brought in. By law, all dogs must be microchipped before being sold or given away, or before 3 months of age (whichever comes first), or the owner risks a fine.
It is the responsibility of the breeder or previous owner to update ownership records with the council once they sell or give away an animal, so make sure you check with them that this has been done as soon as you pick up your new puppy. Owner contact details (e.g. phone numbers and addresses) may be easily changed through your local council over the phone, or we can supply you with a “change of details” form to fill out and send in instead. If your pet has not already been microchipped, we can quickly and easily perform this procedure during a normal consultation.
Note that microchipping your pet does not mean that it has been lifetime registered with the council.
Pet insurance is strongly recommended, as your pet may fall ill or have an accident when you least expect it, leaving you significantly out of pocket. Just like your own private health cover, you can now purchase Pet Insurance to cover your pet's medical expenses including illnesses, accidents and preventative medicine. Some companies will cover part of the cost of yearly vaccinations, desexing, worming and flea control, depending on the level of cover you choose.
Please ask our staff for information.
Training and socialisation
Good behaviour isn't just about obedience;- i.e. sit, stay, roll-over and other such tricks, even though knowing such commands is extremely useful.
Good behaviour is about knowing how to behave well in all situations, whether it be at home, at the vet, in public, with new dogs and with strangers. The best way to do this is to begin to socialise him or her from the moment they get home.
It is important to set basic ground rules early to ensure that your pet learns to behave well from an early age and to reduce the likelihood of behavioural problems emerging later in life. Puppies have what is called a critical socialisation period between approximately 3 -17 weeks of age.
The puppy’s experiences during this critical period of learning and development can influence and shape their behaviour well into adulthood. Providing plenty of opportunities for socialisation and exposure to different environments during this time can help to ensure your puppy grows into a well-adjusted adult that relates well to other dogs, other animals and people. It is also great fun for your puppy as it provides an outlet for mental stimulation and a chance to interact with you and other animals. It takes time and will require patience and consistency from you and your family.
The best way to begin socialising your pet is to take him to puppy pre-school classes. You can also take your puppy to meet with the puppies and dogs of your friends and family, either at your house or their house. But you should make sure that the other dogs and puppies are friendly, healthy and up-to- date with their vaccinations.
Start by organising play-dates with well-behaved, calm dogs, so that they don't scare your puppy- it is essential that the whole experience is pleasant. Until your pet becomes experienced at socialising, it is not a good idea to allow it to play with too many dogs at once (such as off-leash at the park or beach) as this can be an overwhelming experience, and thus counter-productive.
If you have any concerns with the way your puppy is behaving, no matter how small an issue it appears, please contact us for advice. We have several staff members (vets and nurses) who have had advanced training in dog behaviour and obedience who will be more than happy to help.
Both our clinics offer puppy pre-school classes for puppies between 8 and 20 weeks of age.These classes are great fun for owners and puppies and are a must for any pet owner wanting a well- behaved sociable dog.
The class places a strong emphasis on the importance of socialisation and teaches basic training. Advice is on hand at all times on any problems or questions you have regarding your puppy. If you are interested in puppy pre-school classes please call either of our clinics to make a booking, preferably as soon as you acquire your puppy as our classes are in high demand!
Exercise is an important aspect of your pet’s day-to- day care. Often a walk is a dog’s favourite part of the day- it allows them to be able to explore the neighbourhood, experience new sights, smells and sounds, and socialise with new people and animals. Many people forget that it also allows your pet to spend some quality time with you.
Exercise also provides various health benefits such as obesity prevention, which is a huge problem in Australian pets. However, avoid over-exercising your puppy-start with very short, low-impact walks initially and avoid excessive running, jumping and stair-climbing.
For these reasons, before you commit to a pet make sure that you can fit your dog’s exercise schedule into your daily routine. We look forward to seeing you and your new puppy!