CONGRATULATIONS on becoming the proud owner of your new puppy!!
New pups provide hours of entertainment, give endless love to their owners, get up to lots of mischief, and require a lot of responsible care.
In order to answer some questions you may have, we have put together these notes.
The following pages outline specific areas of health care, including Vaccination protocols, Nutrition, Dental care, Skin care Parasite Control and Basic Training.
If you are unsure of anything, or have further questions, please ask the vets or nurses at the clinic.
Remember that a pet is for life so setting some early ground rules and learning how to provide the best care for your pet will ensure that he or she has a long happy healthy life.
THE FIRST FEW DAYS & NIGHTS IN A NEW HOME
Being taken away from their mum and siblings, going for a car ride, being introduced to a brand new environment and lots of new people, maybe having different food offered, is all potentially very stressful for a young pup.
In order to minimize this and to make introduction to the new home easy, it is a good idea to be well prepared and to set some ground rules early.
Firstly, when you collect your new pup from the breeder or pet shop ask them what type of food the kitten has been eating, whether it has been wormed and vaccinated and if so, what with and when.
Have a sleeping area prepared. Decide where you want the pup to be sleeping once it is an adult dog. For example, if puppy is going to grow into a 40kg adult that will be sleeping outside, then don’t start it off sleeping on the lounge or in your bed or it will be very difficult to change this routine! Many pups will cry at night when they first come into their new home.
When you get up to them in the middle of the night and pick them up or play with them, you are reinforcing this behaviour. Puppy will soon learn that he or she will get your attention by howling at night! Make sure, however, that wherever you choose as a sleeping place is warm, dry and sheltered. Your pup is used to sleeping with its Mum and litter mates.
Nutrition is such an important topic and so very important to get right from an early age. Many other health issues are influenced by diet and many health problems can be avoided by a good quality, correctly fed diet. Some small breeds can have a tendency to be very fussy so starting off correctly as a young pup will avoid frustration later on.
A good quality diet is extremely important during the growing months of a kitten’s life. Cats are carnivores (whereas dogs are omnivores) and many supermarket brand cat foods are cereal based rather than meat based.
There are many feeding regimes proposed to be the best. The general rule is this:
Feed suitable amounts of a fresh, high quality, BALANCED diet with ample fresh clean water. Commercial diets range from Home Brand supermarket varieties to more reliable named Supermarket brands to pre-packed meat style logs and vacuum packed meats to Super Premium varieties. Most home formulated diets consisting of meat, vegetables, table scraps etc. are not sufficiently well balanced to meet the needs of a growing kitten and can sometimes be dangerously low in minerals like calcium which are important for normal bone growth and development. Be very wary of vacuum packed dog meats which often contain preservatives and additives that may be harmful to the dog.
Many people advise feeding cereal and milk as a morning meal. This is quite filling, but does not provide very many nutrients and sometimes milk can cause diarrhoea therefore it is better to replace this with dry puppy biscuits soaked in a little warm water to soften them.
For ease of use and convenience for you, the owner, and to ensure the diet is complete and balanced, we recommend the use of a premium brand dry and canned foods. These premium diets provide all the required vitamins and minerals and the correct level of protein for growth. The overall general health and the condition of the teeth, skin and coat and intestinal tract always seems to be far superior in kittens and adult cats that are fed these diets from a young age. Premium foods are also highly digestible so the added bonus of these highly nutritious diets is less 'pooper-scooping' cleaning to be done!!
Ask us which diet would best suit your pup.
How often should you feed your pup?
This depends on the breed and age but generally between 6 and 12 weeks of age, you will need to feed 3-4 times daily. From 3 - 6 months of age, reduce this to 2-3 times daily and after 6 months of age once or twice daily is sufficient. Rather than totally eliminating a meal all at once, gradually reduce the volume of one meal over a period of days until that meal is non-existent. Most good quality dog foods will have feeding guides on the packet, indicating how much to feed for the age and breed of pup, however be careful not to overfeed. We recommend monitoring body weight and body condition score monthly whilst puppy is growing. Please ask us for advice on this important matter.
BONES – To feed or not to feed!!
In our opinion, there are only ever 2 reasons to feed bones:
1. To help keep teeth and gums clean and healthy.
2. To help keep your dog occupied
That is, if your pet is on a good quality balanced diet then there is NO nutritional reason to feed bones and one must weigh up the risks involved with feeding bones.
For teeth there are now several teeth-cleaning alternatives to bones that are much safer to feed. There is also a great range of “boredom buster” interactive toys and treat balls to help them occupied. Ask us for advice on these.
Certainly many dogs will be fed bones their entire lives and never have problems, HOWEVER, we see many patients that have a whole range of problems relating to the feeding of bones, from broken teeth that require surgical extraction (especially in puppies), mild gut upsets to severe pancreatitis, constipation and life-threatening intestinal blockages that require major surgery to correct.
If you must feed bones, then the general rule is only ever feed raw bones and bigger is better. The idea is that the dog gnaws away on the ends of large bones and this helps keep teeth and gums healthy. Once that knuckle on the end of the bone is gone, the bone should be disposed of. Large raw bones like marrow bones are less likely to splinter and become stuck between teeth or in the intestinal tract. We often see dogs with a rib bone stuck across the roof of their mouth between the upper molars. Be aware though, that large bones are very high risk of causing broken teeth.
Strict adherence to good Parasite Control Protocols is very important for both the health of your pup and for the prevention of transmission of some parasites to humans. Young children are particularly susceptible and some intestinal worms of dogs can be easily transmitted to humans via a lick or the child putting their hands in their mouths after playing with the dog. Good hygiene is important as well as regular treatment of the entire family including any other pets.
All puppies should be wormed for intestinal worms (roundworm, hookworm, whipworm and tapeworm) from 2 weeks of age. They should be wormed fortnightly until 3 months of age then monthly till 6 months of age and then every 3 months thereafter for life. In high risk areas, pups can be wormed weekly till 6 weeks of age then follow the schedule below.
0-6 weeks of age at high risk – weekly worming with Drontal suspension.
2-12 weeks of age not at high risk – fortnightly worming with Drontal suspension or tablets.
12 weeks - 6 months – monthly worming with Drontal all-wormer tablets.
6 months on - worm every 3 months with Drontal all-wormer tablets.
Heartworm disease is a major killer of dogs in areas where mosquito exist. Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitoes so wherever they are present, your dog is potentially at risk. Untreated, it eventually causes congestive heart failure and death. Treatment for a dog infected with heartworm can be very expensive and in some cases, risky.
It is very simple to prevent heartworm disease. Heartworm prevention should be started at 12 weeks of age. There are several options for prevention:
1. Monthly flavoured tablet that combines heartworm and intestinal worms
2. Monthly topical “spot on” that combines heartworm, some intestinal worms and flea control
3. Injection that can be started at 12 weeks then repeated at 6 months, 15 months then yearly. This is a highly recommended form of prevention due to its convenience. It avoids forgetting to give the monthly products.
Fleas are an extremely common parasite of dogs and cats and cause anything from irritation and discomfort to severe allergic dermatitis and sometimes anaemia. They can also be responsible for transmitting tapeworm. Flea control needs to be considered in 2 categories:
1. On your dog and
2. In their Environment.
There are many different products available for flea control including powders, rinses, shampoos, oral tablets, topical spot-on’s etc. Be very careful that the product you choose is suitable for puppies under 4 months of age – many products aren’t and could result in disastrous toxic effects if used on very young pups.
Flea collars & powders are generally not very effective methods of flea control. Similarly, shampoos and rinses may kill the fleas on the dog at the time of rinsing/shampooing, but provide little, if any, residual effect or protection which as a result, does not break the environmental flea life-cycle.
The product we recommend will depend on the age of your puppy and the type of environment they live in. Ask us which is best for your new pup.
Be sure to treat all the animals in the household, cats included or else the environmental cycle will be impossible to break!
We recommend Nexgard monthly tablets for control of fleas and ticks from 8 weeks of age. For more information on how you can achieve good flea control, ask us for our information sheet on “How to Achieve Good Flea Control”.
Ticks cause skin irritation, blood loss in severe infestations and sometimes allergic skin disease. In this area we also see the very dangerous paralysis tick, Ixodes holocyclus. Whilst the higher risk time is in the warmer months, we regularly see cases of tick paralysis in this area even in the winter so do not be complacent just because it is cooler weather.
Tick paralysis can be quickly fatal. No control product guarantees 100% efficacy against paralysis ticks. Daily searching for ticks on your dog is essential and should be made part of your daily routine.
Start at the head and work your way over the entire body, paying special attention to inside ears, between toes, in any skin folds, under collars.
We recommend Nexgard monthly tablets for control of both fleas and ticks. Nexgard is safe from 8 weeks of age.
VACCINATING YOUR PUPPY
All pups need to be vaccinated against the major viral diseases of dogs, namely Canine Parvovirus, Canine Infectious Hepatitis, Canine Distemper Virus, Canine Parainfluenza virus and Bordetella brochiseptica.
Parvovirus is very prevalent and is a common killer of young pups. All of the above viruses are highly contagious. All reputable boarding kennels will not allow your dog to board unless it is vaccinated against all of the above.
When your pup is due for a vaccination, they will be given a full physical health check by the veterinarian to ensure their health. This is a good opportunity to ask any questions you may have regarding your pup’s health, training, feeding or general care.
Be aware that your pup is not fully protected by the vaccine until approximately 10 days after the final booster is given.
Once your puppy has completed the initial course of vaccines, a regular schedule can be formed for life. Some viruses can now be vaccinated against every 3 years rather than yearly. Others for example Parainfluenza and Bordetella still require annual boosters to be effective. Your pet’s level of risk needs to be established before deciding on a vaccination regime for the adult dog.
As one year of a dog’s life is equivalent to about 7 human years of ageing, a yearly health check is very important to make sure everything is okay.
Our clinic will individually assess each puppy’s risk situation to determine what vaccinations are required and how often they should be boosted.
Other vaccinations such as tetanus and leptospirosis may be required in some cases/areas. In some high risk cases, parvovirus boosters are given to pups more frequently to prevent disease for example if there is known previous exposure.
DESEXING YOUR PUPPY
Both males and females should be desexed from 4-5 months of age.
Female puppies usually have their first “season” between 5 and 9 months of age, with larger breeds being later, sometimes up to 13 months of age. Females will cycle once or twice yearly and the “heat season” generally lasts for about 3 weeks. During this time the female will attract male dogs from far and wide! Desexing a female dog prior to her first season significantly reduces the risk of her developing mammary cancer at a later age, and completely eliminates the risk of “pyometra” or uterine infection. Desexing the female involves a full General Anaesthetic and abdominal surgery to remove the ovaries and uterus.
For males, desexing eliminates the risk of developing testicular cancers, greatly reduces the risk of the dog developing prostate cancer and benign enlargement of the prostate gland, reduces wandering and other territorial behaviours like urine marking and fighting etc. The procedure for males also involves a full General Anaesthetic. The testicles are then removed via an incision just in front of the scrotum.
Both male and female dogs will spend the full day in our hospital. Cost of desexing varies depending of the gender, size and age of your dog. If performed at around 5 months of age, it is less expensive and recovery seems to be much faster.
1. “If I desex my dog, it’s personality will change”
The only aspect of behaviour that is likely to change following desexing is a reduction in aggression and dominance related behaviours.
2. “My dog will get fat if I desex it”
We hear this time and time again and it is simply not true. The only reason your dog will get fat is if you feed it too much and/or exercise it too little! We will help you monitor your pet’s body condition and regulate the amount to feed.
3. “It will take away his “manliness”!
Hmmm, mostly a comment from the male owner!!! Remember that responsible pet ownership requires having a well behaved, well cared for dog that doesn’t desire to wander the neighbourhood creating unwanted puppies that end up in shelters or worse, dumped or on death row.
We are frequently presented with a “lost” dog which we are asked if we recognize. How easy it would be if every dog had some form of permanent identification which could easily and reliably trace to its owner. Microchipping is the answer!
Microchipping is now mandatory (state law) for all puppies by the age of 12 weeks. This involves implanting a small microchip (about the size of a grain of rice) under the skin between the dog’s shoulder blades. When read with a special scanner, a unique number is seen which is linked to an Australia wide computer data base. All of your contact details are on the database. As a result, if your dag goes missing anywhere in Australia, you can be found via the microchip details.
A collar and identification tag is also a good idea. We stock Bow Wow tags and PawPrint tags which are engraved with your dog’s name and your contact details.
Remember, most dogs that end up on “death row” at the pound have no form of identification that can reunite them with their owners.
All dogs must be registered every year and wear a council-issued registration tag. This assists council to reunite dogs with the owners should they become separated. Puppies should be registered at 3 months of age or within 14 days of acquiring a new dog. Registration is free for puppies under 6 months of age. Discounted fees apply to desexed and microchipped dogs. For more information go to www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au and look for “Animal Regulations” under the “Laws & Permits” tab
TRAINING AND BEHAVIOUR
A young pup between 6 and 16 weeks old is at the age where he/she learns the most rapidly (both good and bad!). This is the time to establish basic commands like sit, stay, drop, come here etc. Remember, though, that the pup’s concentration span is short and a 5 or 10 minute session is enough. Reward good behaviour enthusiastically with lots of praise in a happy voice and perhaps a food treat. Bad behaviour should never be rewarded by giving attention. A deep strong-voice saying “no” and then walking away and ignoring puppy for a few minutes will help.
Be aware that the pup will be trying to establish its position in the household hierarchy. It is important to teach young children how to behave around the pup so that the pup does not establish a position that is dominant to the children. There are many things that we inadvertently do in play that we may not realise is encouraging the pup to be dominant. Jumping up on people is an example. Always discourage jumping up. Mouthing and nipping behaviours should also be discouraged, even if in play. Our nurses can help you with more information on behaviour. (See also the many behaviour related articles on our website)
Socialisation is very important from an early age. This means both with other humans and other dogs. It also includes having puppy become accustomed to and accepting of many different sights and sounds. Most dogs that are aggressive towards or fearful of other dogs have not been correctly socialized at a young age. Expose your pup to as many varied situations as you can. Let him play with other dogs and young children (always supervised of course). However, the big limiting factor here may be the pup’s vaccination status. You should be careful where you take your pup until it is fully vaccinated. Try to find a happy medium so that both issues are addressed.
Our qualified nurse holds “Puppy Preschool” Socialisation and Training classes which are an excellent form of early socialization in a safe environment. The classes include lots of information for new puppy owners on health care, behaviour and basic training and are a great preparation for further obedience or agility training. Please ask at the clinic for the next available course.
We recommend the use of training toys such as Boredom Buster toys and treat balls that not only provide fun and exercise but stimulate the pup’s brain as well. They help to avoid boredom if puppy is home alone and help to save your shoes and pot plants from being destroyed! Remember many behavioural problems develop from inadequate early socialization, inadequate exercise and boredom.
SKIN AND COAT CARE
The health of the skin and coat is often a reflection of the diet. So a good quality diet is essential for healthy skin and coat.
Never use human shampoos on dogs! Dog shampoos are formulated at a different pH as the pH of human skin is different to canine skin. As a result, using human products can result in an itchy dog with a defective skin barrier layer.
Similarly, some varieties of dog shampoos are of questionable quality and contain lots of detergents which strip the natural oils from the skin and result in dry, irritated and itchy skin for your dog. Aim to use good quality, soap and detergent-free shampoos. We recommend and stock the Dermcare range which was developed by a Veterinary Dermatology Specialist and which has a great Natural Shampoo for routine use as well as Oatmeal and Aloe-Vera based shampoos and conditioners for sensitive skin.
Ensure you don’t wash your puppy too often and as a general rule they should be washed no more than fortnightly. If you must wash as often as fortnightly then using a nice gentle shampoos like Aloveen in conjunction with a leave in conditioner is recommended. Also make sure you time the application of your flea and tick control correctly. Ask our nurses for more information.
Allergic dermatitis is an extremely common problem in pets in our area and arises from sensitivity to many different things including grasses, plants, inhaled pollens, some food items, some materials, house dust mites etc etc. The list is huge. Dogs that develop true allergic dermatitis usually start to show symptoms any time from 6 months to 2 years of age and they tend to become worse with increasing age. These dogs require very good quality maintenance regimes for their skin and coat care and high quality diets.
Dogs with medium to long coats require regular brushing and grooming. Clipping in summer helps with the heat and makes searching for ticks easier. In winter, a “maintenance” clip or trim around the face, feet, belly and backside will keep the coat neat and tidy. Snips N Dips Pet Pampering Parlour caters for all bathing, grooming and clipping needs throughout the whole year. Around 12-16 weeks of age is a great time to start getting puppy used to regular grooming and clipping. Ask us what would best suit your puppy.
TOILET TRAINING BASICS
1. When you are able to watch the pup, keep pup always in the same room with you. If you see pup start to have an accident, say "No, Outside" at the very same time you scoop up the puppy and run outside. For a dog you cannot carry, use a leash. No punishment, EVER. That doesn't work for housetraining, and can cause nasty complications.
2. When you are outside in the right place for pup to relieve, use a cue phrase, such as "Go Potty." This is only used at the time and the place where you want pup to do it now. Never say it before you take the puppy outside. While you're still in the house, only use the word "Outside."
3. When pup relieves outside, praise sincerely. If pup likes a treat, you might have some hidden on your person, and whip one out to give at that moment. If pup likes to play outside, allow a little playtime after pup relieves. If your puppy wants to get right back inside, reward the pup by going right back inside.
4. Every time pup has an accident in the house, it confuses the puppy. Therefore, you need to supervise or confine your pup 100% of the time. If necessary to keep you watching the puppy, sometimes you can fasten yourself to the puppy with a leash at your waist.
5. If you find an accident the puppy has had in the house that you did not see happen, that is more your mistake than the puppy's! Whatever you do, never punish your dog for this.
For more housetraining information, see the housetraining article on our website www.lamingtonvet.com.au in the Advice Centre under the Behaviour Section.
We highly recommend pet health insurance for your puppy. These days the advances in technology for pet health care is amazing and in many cases equivalent to that of human medicine. Good quality veterinary care is expensive and the advances we are seeing in diagnostic technologies for pet’s means that the cost of pet health care is increasing.
There are many excellent insurance plans to cover the costs associated with accidents and illnesses with your pet and having pet health insurance means that the most that you will pay for any accident or illness is generally the policy’s excess which in a lot of cases is around $100.
The earlier you take out pet insurance the better as any pre-existing illnesses your pet suffers prior to becoming insured will not be covered.
All of our qualified staff at Lamington Terrace Veterinary Surgery are here to help with any questions or queries you have about your new puppy.
You can also find us on Facebook by searching for Lamington Terrace Veterinary Surgery.
Thank you for trusting us to help care for your new four-legged family member!