To the proud new "parent",
Congratulations on the arrival of your new puppy. Owning a puppy is a big responsibility. We are trained in all aspects of caring for puppies, and would like you to think of us as your best source of advice. We are here to help, and answer any questions that you may have.
These notes outline the basics of how to care for your puppy. Health care issues including vaccination, intestinal worming, heartworm, flea control and desexing are all discussed. Other things such as diet, socialisation and training are also very important. If you would like more information on any of the topics in these notes, we have a range of more detailed leaflets on various topics. If you have other questions don’t hesitate to give us a call, or make a list and ask us at your next visit.
The first year of your puppy’s life will be a lot of fun for you both – so enjoy it!
From the Vets and Nursing staff of Ingleburn Veterinary Hospital
You’ll find a short discussion of each of these topics later in these notes.
* Visits to the vet are marked with an asterisk
Vaccinations are essential! Distemper and hepatitis, once major problems, have now been almost eradicated by vaccination. However, parvovirus is still a big killer in this area, especially in young dogs. It causes severe bloody diarrhoea and vomiting, and death within a few days. Vaccination is the only way to protect your pup against these potentially fatal diseases. A puppy course of 2-3 vaccines is required, followed by a booster 1 year later then every 3 years.
Kennel cough, though not fatal, is common, causing a distressing, choking cough which can last several weeks.We advise you not to take your puppy into parks or streets until 2 weeks after the last puppy vaccination.
Heartworm infection is a serious disease causing damage to your dog’s heart and lungs, and sometimes death. It is spread by mosquitoes, so all dogs are at risk. The most effective way to prevent heartworm is with a convenient once-a-month tablet, for life. These tablets kill the worms before they are able to reach your dog’s heart. Daily tablets are much less effective. We recommend Sentinel Spectrum or Interceptor Spectrum. Revolution or Advocate applied to the back of the neck are also very good.
The major intestinal worms affecting dogs are roundworm, hookworm, whipworm and tapeworm. All pups are born with some worms and these must be controlled to prevent problems such as diarrhoea, vomiting and anaemia (blood loss).
Puppies should be wormed weekly until 4 weeks of age, every 2 weeks until 12 weeks and then at least every 3 months after that. Always weigh your pup and be sure to give the correct dose. If you are using one of the combined heartworm/worming tablets (Sentinel or Interceptor) then the best method is to alternate these with an intestinal allwormer (eg. Fenpral) until 12 weeks of age. After that, you can usually rely on monthly Sentinel or Interceptor, which kill all the major intestinal worms.
Fleas cause irritation, skin allergies and in large numbers can suck enough blood to make your puppy anaemic. Good flea control requires an integrated approach, not just killing the fleas on your pup, but in the environment too. Sentinel Spectrum is an excellent product. As well as controlling heartworm and worms, it sterilises fleas and stops them from breeding in your home. (But it’s not suitable for all households, so ask us for advice first). Sentinel doesn’t kill fleas directly, so if your pup already has fleas, you may initially need to also use a good insecticide such as Frontline, Advantage or Capstar, or a good flea shampoo. Revolution is another option, providing control of both heartworm and fleas (but not intestinal worms).
Microchips are a safe and permanent way of identifying your dog. A very small electronic chip is implanted (through a needle) under the skin in the back of your dog’s neck/shoulders. If your dog is ever lost or injured, then a vet or council pound will be able to scan the dog and contact you. Microchip identification and lifetime registration is compulsory for all puppies in NSW. Microchip implantation must be done by 12 weeks of age (or before the pup is sold or changes owners, whichever comes first). Registration is handled by the council and must be done by 6 months of age. You’ll save money by desexing your dog before registration.
Unless you’re serious about breeding, then all dogs, both males and females, should be desexed at 5-6 months of age. As well as stopping unwanted breeding, it makes them happier, healthier pets. There is no maximum age at which a dog can be desexed, but there are definite medical and behavioural advantages in performing the surgery at this age. Desexing reduces aggression, wandering and urine marking. Serious illnesses such as uterine infection, breast cancer and prostate problems can be prevented by desexing.
A high-quality balanced diet is very important. Your pup has different nutritional requirements than an adult dog, including extra protein for muscle development and calcium for bone growth. We recommend a premium complete balanced commercial puppy food, eg. Hill’s Science Diet, Eukanuba or Royal Canin.
Pups should be fed 3-4 small meals a day until 4 months of age, then twice daily until fully grown. With a proper balanced diet, calcium and vitamin supplements are unnecessary and we advise against using them. Make sure that your pup always has access to clean water and change it daily. Raw bones (eg. lamb shanks that won’t be swallowed whole) are important to the health of your dog’s teeth and gums, and should be given 2-3 times per week.
Training begins as soon as you get your puppy home. Toilet training and basic commands (like "sit") can be taught at an early age. Puppies have a sensitive period of development called the socialisation period. It occurs from about 4 - 14 weeks of age. It’s very important to socialise your puppy with other dogs and other people during this time. But you must also protect your dog from exposure to contagious diseases.
Puppy Preschool is an excellent and safe way to provide this social contact for your dog. It also teaches your pup good manners and basic obedience, and educates you on the development and basic care of your puppy. And it’s fun!