Bringing your new puppy home can be one of the most exciting yet daunting experiences you will have with your new pet. It can be very confusing knowing what to do and when. This puppy health plan is a guide to the first year of preventative healthcare.
A puppy can have his/her first vaccination as early as 6 weeks of age, with second vaccination given from 10 weeks of age.
In dogs we can vaccinate against distemper, infectious hepatitis, parvo virus, para-influenza virus, leptospirosis and kennel cough. For more information on the diseases that we vaccinate against please click here.
Once vaccinated it is advised to wait for a week for your puppy's immunity to be fully developed before going out for walks and socialising with other dogs.
Fleas can become a big problem in a short space of time; one flea can become 1,000 in just 21 days! Adult fleas jump onto your dog for a blood meal. Fleas cause irritation to the skin which can lead to intense scratching, hair loss and skin infections. Fleas can also lead to tapeworms and anaemia.
Adult fleas can lay up to 50 eggs each day. These eggs fall off your pet onto the floor where they hatch into larvae. Larvae will move away from light and bury deep into carpets or furnishings feeding on dirt and dust in your carpet. At this stage they can ingest worm eggs present in the environment. Larvae then spin themselves a cocoon where they grow into adult fleas. These pupae can lay dormant in the environment for long periods of time. The adult fleas hatch when they sense carbon dioxide, heat or vibrations. If the larvae had eaten a worm egg, the adult flea will be infected. When your pet is grooming he / she may ingest an infected flea and therefore become infected with worms.
The best way to prevent fleas is to regularly protect your pet and home against fleas by treating with a prescription product, for example Frontline Combo or Certifect. Regularly vacuuming your home and washing your pet's bedding above 60oC will help to remove as many eggs as possible.
The two most common types of worm found in dogs in the UK are roundworms and tapeworms although hookworms, whipworms and lungworms can also be seen. Your pet can get worms from infected fleas, hunting/scavenging or from contaminated soil.
Tapeworms are segmented worms. You may see small segments passed in your dog's faeces; these contain eggs which help spread the worms to other pets. Tapeworms attach to your pet's gut wall and feed from the nutrients in their blood.
Roundworms are smooth and look like spaghetti strings. If your pet has a heavy infestation you may see whole worms passed in your puppy's faeces or vomit. Roundworms live freely in the gut, feeding directly from the gut contents.
Symptoms to look out for are licking the bottom more frequently, worms / worm segments in the faeces or on bedding, diarrhoea, vomiting or a round bloated look to the puppy's abdomen.
There are many ways to help reduce the chances of your pet getting a worm burden, including safe disposal of faeces, routinely treating your puppy for fleas, preventing your pet scavenging and regularly worming your pet.
A puppy should be wormed every 2 weeks until he / she is 12 weeks old, then monthly until 6 months of age and then every three months from six months of age.
Female dogs can be neutered from 6 months old and males from 12 months old (unless you are experiencing any behavioural problems in which case we can also neuter males from 6 months old). Neutering your dog will prevent unwanted litters of puppies, reduce unwanted behavioural issues or aggression, as well as providing a number of long term health benefits. Female dogs come into season approximately every 6 months, which stop completely after neutering. Male dogs that have not been neutered are more likely to mark objects with urine, fight (which can lead to wounds and abscesses), be territorial, be more likely to develop unwanted behavioural issues and develop testicle / prostate tumours. Female dogs that are not neutered are more likely to develop false pregnancies, mammary tumours and womb infections (pyometra). If choosing not to breed from your bitch it is advisable to neuter her prior to having a first season.
Once neutered your pet has a higher risk of being overweight due to a reduced calorie requirement. To prevent your pet gaining weight after surgery we would advise switching to a neutered dog diet. Neutered female dogs are at slightly higher risk of developing urinary incontinence later in life.
A microchip is a computer chip about the size of a grain of rice. It contains a 15 digit number that can be read by using a scanner. Each number is individual and is attached to a national database that contains the specific details pertaining to the owners name and contact details. If a lost dog has a chip his/her owner can be traced and contacted within a matter of minutes and reunited with their pet. The microchip is implanted in the scruff of the neck during an appointment or while the animal is under anaesthetic for neutering. For more information on microchipping please click here.
We recommend the Royal Canin dog food range. The range consists of a weaning food, a junior food then a neutered adult dog food range for small, medium and large breed dogs. We recommend Royal Canin food as it contains the highest quality ingredients, has a number of added benefits including, digestive security, dental benefits, joint protection and skin and coat support. Dry food helps to keep your dog's teeth cleaner, as well as being cheaper to feed per day than wet food.
Vet's bills can be unexpected and often quite large. Veterinary treatment has progressed and a greater number of treatment or surgery options are available. Insurance gives you the peace of mind to know that if you were to receive an unexpected bill, you would not have to struggle with your finances to be able to treat your dog. It is important that you know what type of cover to take out for your pet. Cover for life is the best type of policy on the market as it covers your pet for ongoing conditions for your dog's whole life.
Your new puppy will be able to start going out for walks one week after having his / her second vaccination. It is important not to over-exercise your new puppy. Large breed dogs should not be allowed intense exercise until he / she is fully developed. This can be between 12 to 18 months depending on the adult size / weight of your puppy. Several short walks per day with gentle exercise are much better for your puppy's joint and bone development. Too much exercise can lead to joint / bone growth deformities for example hip or elbow dysplasia.
It is advisable to start training your puppy to allow you to brush his / her teeth as soon as possible. Daily brushing protects the teeth from a build up of plaque and prevents tartar from being formed. Dental disease is a progressive disease and once tartar has been formed the only way to remove it is for your pet to have a full general anaesthetic to have a scale and polish. There are special diet foods available that help to reduce plaque formation on teeth. Dental chews and toys will help to reduce plaque build up but are often high in calories and are not as effective as brushing.
Early puppy-hood represents the stage in a dog's life when it will be most inclined to explore situations that are new and unfamiliar. It is through exploration that they will find out about the world in which they live and it's during this time they will begin to make decisions about what is pleasant and what is not, what is 'safe' or what is to be avoided. It is the time when they must learn to interact appropriately with those living creatures with which we require them to spend their life, in particular other dogs and humans. This is the time when the foundations for future learning and behaviour are laid. For more information on puppy socialisation please click here.