How to care for your new puppy

You’re the proud owner of a new puppy. How exciting! There are lots of things to think about when getting a new family member so this blog is just a little summary of the main things.

Vaccination

The most important thing you can do for your new puppy is get them vaccinated, as some of the diseases we vaccinate for are fatal.

The vaccination protocol we recommend (based on the World Small Animal Association Guidelines) is:

• first vaccination at 6-8 weeks of age: parvovirus, parainfluenza, hepatitis and distemper

• second vaccination at 12 weeks of age: parvovirus, parainfluenza, hepatitis, distemper and leptospirosis +/- kennel cough

• third vaccination at 16 weeks of age: parvovirus, parainfluenza, hepatitis, distemper and

leptospirosis.


Once the initial course is complete, annual vaccinations are needed to top up your pup’s protection.


Some pets can have reactions to vaccines so it’s important to monitor them for signs of lethargy, swelling at the injection site or a puffy face. Contact the vet who gave the vaccine so they can advise on treatment and report the reaction to the vaccine companies.


Intestinal worms

Puppies have lower immunity than adult dogs so are more susceptible to worms. Worms may cause your puppy to have poor body condition and diarrhoea. Large infestations in young puppies can even be fatal.


We recommend the following deworming protocol:

• 2-12 weeks of age: every 2 weeks

• 2 weeks-6 months of age: once a month

• 6 months of age onwards: every three months for life.


Fleas

Any dog not on a year-round flea control plan will carry at least one or two fleas if not more. Fleas are everywhere and cannot be avoided.


It is not always possible to find fleas on your pet as they run away from light as you part the hair to look for them. Fleas breed quickly, particularly in summer and in warm carpeted homes. One flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day, therefore it does not take long for a flea problem to develop. If preventative measures are not taken, flea populations rise rapidly.


Flea treatment should be given monthly unless the packaging advises that it lasts longer, for example, three months or six months. It is important to read the packaging as some flea treatment is not suitable or licenced for young puppies.


Feeding your puppy

Puppies have increased nutritional needs compared to adults and require a specific ratio of some vitamins and minerals, for example, calcium and phosphorous to help with bone development. The best diet for a puppy is a balanced commercial food like Hills Science Diet and Royal Canin or Eukanuba.


Puppies have small stomachs and are best fed little and often. We suggest:

• 6-12 weeks of age: feed four meals daily

• 12 weeks-6 months of age: feed three meals daily

• 6-12 months of age: feed two meals daily

• 12 months onwards: once or twice daily depending on your lifestyle/dog’s preference.


Desexing

If you are not intending to breed from your puppy then desexing is important to prevent certain conditions developing later in life.


These include mammary cancer, uterine infections which can be fatal, prostate cancer and testicular cancer. Desexing will also help control many unwanted hormonal behaviours.


We usually recommend desexing at 6 months of age, however, large and giant breeds may benefit from later desexing. Talk to your veterinarian for advice on individual puppies.


Microchipping

It is now a legal requirement to have your pet microchipped within two months of registering with the council. The microchip is a small chip around the size of a grain of rice that is injected under the skin allowing permanent identification should your puppy go missing. The injection can be a little painful so vets will often use a numbing cream to help prevent pain in small puppies.


It’s recommended to keep your details up to date so as to be easily contactable should the worst happen and your puppy goes missing.


Socialisation

Between 8 and 16 weeks of age is the ideal time to learn appropriate behaviours and socialising, however, it is also the time they are most susceptible to diseases.


We recommend actively engaging in socialisation as soon as you get your pup settled and this can start at home. The doorbell, vacuum cleaner and other household noises are excellent examples of things to be exposed to during this time. You can take your pet out (do not put them on the ground or allow them to mix with other dogs) to see as many things from the outside world as possible.


Once your puppy has vaccinations, they can go to puppy school which is a great way of socialising in a safe environment and also a great way to connect with other pet owners.


Council registration

Registration with the council is necessary by 3 months of age. Registration is required by law to be done annually. Please check with your local council if you have any more concerns regarding registration.


Pet insurance

Veterinary care can become expensive, especially if extended hospitalisation or surgery is needed. To reduce the stress around veterinary costs we always recommend people look into pet insurance as a means of covering the costs of care. There are many different insurance companies and each offers a different package so it’s very important to read the terms and conditions associated with your policy before signing up.


There are many, many things to think about when taking a new puppy into your family but the most important part is to enjoy them! They grow up so fast: take every opportunity to play, cuddle and enjoy them. New pet ownership is a massive learning curve, so be sure to reach out for advice.


Dr Cori

www.vetonlineconsult.co.nz


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