Health care for you puppy

This health care leaflet is designed to be a summary of some of the important health care
issues for your puppy. Please feel free to ask for more detail on any of these subjects.
These are very important and protect your puppy against three 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 this immunity throughout life.
WORMING (Intestinal/Gut)
Puppies are commonly born with worms which have been transferred from their mothers. So
general hygiene and regularly cleaning up their droppings is important and we need to regularly
dose them for worms, especially while they are young.
Puppies should be wormed:
 Every 2 weeks until they are 12 weeks old
 Then every month until they are 6 months old
 Then every 3 months throughout life
Worming preparations are calculated on bodyweight so feel free to use our scales to keep track
of your pup’s weight.
We recommend and stock Drontal tablets/chews or puppy worming syrup.
Many areas around 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: Heartguard, Sentinel, Advantage Duo and Advocate. The latter
two also help control fleas and/or puppy worms as well. Each involves a monthly application (a
beef snack, a flavatab or a spot-on respectively) which ‘housecleans’ your dog each month
killing any baby heartworm that may have been acquired in the last month. Proheart SR12
injection is a once a year injection for heartworm which can be given when your dog is 6months
old. Puppies should start as soon as possible as pups or dogs starting older than 6 months of
age require a blood test first.
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 6 months, but up to 21 months in giant
breeds! Ask us what is right for you 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 Royal Canin or Advance puppy foods. This can be supplemented with small amounts
of fresh food (no cooked or small bones, please) and a ready supply of fresh water.
Teeth cleaning and gum massage is very important and is probably best achieved by supplying
the appropriate things to chew on! Large raw bones are excellent. Dentabone (artificial bones)
and specifically designed dental toys are also useful. For dogs with problem teeth there is
even a specific dental diet to encourage oral health.
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, as appropriate.
We recommend that this is done around 5-6 months of age.
Your pup should be registered with the local council by the time they are 6 months old. Some
councils offer discounted registration for desexed animals.
A dog tag is supplied for their collar but we suggest more permanent identification is desirable.
The best is a microchip which is implanted under the skin of your pup by injection and
registered for life with a central registry. In addition pet tags with your phone number on them
are a good idea for quick returns of wandering pooches.
Puppies generally do not require much bathing, however if this becomes desirable make sure
you use a mild dog shampoo such as Episoothe or Allergroom. Dog skins are very different to
ours. Unless really, really required do not bathe more than once a week.
Fleas always somehow seem to find their bothersome way onto our dogs and are a major
source of skin problems. They come from a dog’s environment where dogs and cats have
previously been and flea eggs have been deposited which then hatch over a period of time and
jump onto the next passing ‘meal ticket’ (dog or cat, occasionally 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 Frontline and
Revolution, that provide a month’s protection against fleas and are water resistant. There are
also flea egg killers that stop the eggs hatching in the house, kennel, bedding and provide very
good environmental control, such as Sentinel. These products are generally used in
combination with the above to give the best flea control.
Puppyhood is a critical time for socialization (particularly between 10 to 20 weeks). While we
need to be aware of potential health issues (vaccinations, etc) and do this in a controlled way to
minimize risk, we do need our puppies to experience lots of new situations, especially people
and other animals in this period. Puppy pre-school is a great opportunity to socialize and
discuss issues like toileting, mouthing, chewing etc and we encourage all our puppies to join us
for this.
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 willful) as youngsters. Make sure there
is plenty of praise.
Positive reinforcement of good behaviour achieves much better results than the old fashioned
punishing routine. 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.
At home, your puppy obviously needs somewhere comfortable to sleep, and importantly, during
the day or night, access to somewhere that is out of the weather so they do not get too hot or
cold. Access to drinking water is obviously required 24 hours a day. We also need to keep
those bright little minds active and we should supply a good range of toys such as Kongs, treat
balls, Buster cubes , Rope Chews, Bones, etc, which we can rotate over a period of a week, so
they are ‘fresh’.
Out and about we should have our puppy fitted with the correct lead, collar or harness or Halti
or Gentle Leader. A car harness is a good idea for car travel too. NB: Puppies have no road
If your puppy appears listless, lethargic or off their food it is of concern. Likewise if they have
vomiting or diarrhea that is severe or persists longer that 12 hours. We are happy to and
indeed much prefer to answer a concerned call from a puppy owner rather than wait too long.
Copyright Animal Hospitals of Australia 2000