New member of the family
It is important to feed a complete puppy diet. The easiest way to do this is to feed a manufactured food. Dogs are carnivores so it is important to avoid products with very low levels of protein such as Pedigree chum, Butchers or supermarket brands. These typically contain less than 4% animal protein. Very good quality diets include Royal Canin, Hills, Eukanuba, Wainwrights, James Wellbeloved and Chappie.
Wet vs Dry: Wet foods are good for very young puppies. However, dry foods are great for breaking off tartar and reducing dental disease and therefore are more suitable for adult dogs. Depending on which diet is selected, a feeding guideline can be found on the back of the food. A smaller quantity of dried food is required to meet daily dietary requirements compared to wet food. Raw foods should not be fed as these can be dangerous to both your dog and to humans especially children and immunosuppressed individuals. Raw meat can pass infections such as parasites and bacteria including E-coli and Salmonella. For any further advice then please do not hesitate to contact the practice or attend one of our free nurse clinics.
Puppies should be wormed from 2-3 weeks of age, every 2 weeks until they are 3 months old. They should then be wormed monthly until they are 6 months old. As there have unfortunately been a number of cases of Lungworm in South Wales we recommend that all dogs are wormed every month. Lungworm is transmitted by slugs and snails. There are only 2 licenced products available to cover for lungworm. These are Milbemax and Advocate which should be given monthly. As advocate treats against any existing lungworm your dog may have (encysted stages) it is fine to use when you are starting treatment against lungworm. Milbemax will only treat existing infection if it is initially given weekly for 4 weeks then continued monthly.
The most common worms affecting young puppies are roundworms and tapeworms. One of the tapeworms is linked to the flea cycle so it is important to regularly treat for both fleas and worms. Worms can cause weight loss, vomiting and diarrhoea. Some parasites can affect humans especially children, pregnant women and immunosuppressed individuals. Worming products that can be bought from the vet are much more potent and therefore more cost effective than those bought in supermarkets and pet shops.
There are different external parasites that can affect your Puppy. The most common parasites are fleas, ticks and lice. Regular flea treatment is advised, and is usually applied once a month depending on which product is used. Flea treatments can be given as a tablet or as a spot on applied to the back of the neck.
All animals in the household must be treated in order to control for fleas. Fleas only jump on your pet to feed and spend the majority of their lives in the environment. Each female can produce 1 million eggs so it is far easier to prevent a problem than to get rid of them once an infestation develops.
If a flea burden is present environmental control in addition to treatment of your pet is required.
Use of effective flea treatment for all pets in the household
Use of an effective environmental spray on all non-washable/replaceable furnishings such as Indorex, Acclaim or RIP Fleas. These are available to buy at the practice and are again more effective than the sprays available from pet shops or supermarkets.
Machine washing your pets bedding and soft furnishings over 60®C to kill the eggs and regular vacuuming of floors.
Why is it important to vaccinate? Vaccination aims to protect your dog against life threatening diseases that can be caught form the environment and other dogs. Unvaccinated puppies that suffer from such diseases may recover but can often suffer long term damage to vital organs such as the heart, liver and kidneys.
Puppies can be vaccinated from 8 weeks of age once the levels of their mother’s maternal antibodies have reduced. The initial course consists of 2 vaccinations 2 to 4 weeks apart. Puppies need to stay away from unvaccinated dogs until 10 days after the second vaccination. They will then require annual vaccinations throughout their life to ensure immunity is maintained. Kennel cough is not included in the initial vaccination course and it is not life threatening. Kennel cough is required by most reputable kennels, by some groomers and for some puppy classes. It is best given 4 to 6 weeks prior to any of the above but should be given at least 3 weeks before. The kennel cough vaccine protects your dog for a year.
What is my puppy vaccinated against?
Canine Distemper Virus
Canine Infectious Hepatitis (Adenovirus)
Canine Parainfluenza Virus
We recommend that all puppies are microchipped. The microchip is about the size of a grain of rice, and is inserted under the skin on the back of the neck. Each chip has a unique number that can be read by a hand held scanner and checked against a central database. All vets, rescue centres, animal pounds and the police can read the chip. That means that any lost pets or those that have been involved in accidents can be re-united. We routinely microchip puppies at the second vaccination or at the same time as neutering. In addition from March 2015 microchipping will become compulsory for all dogs in Wales.
Puppies under 10 to 12 weeks of age often cope better with new experiences compared to older puppies as they are less fearful. It is a good idea to gradually get your puppy used to meeting new people and other dogs. Your puppy can be introduced to dogs that are up to date with their yearly vaccinations. However, before going to puppy classes or meeting other dogs in public places they must wait 10 to 14 days after their 2nd vaccination to ensure they are fully protected. When socialising your puppy it is important to stay calm and confident. If your puppy hears loud noises do not try to comfort them as this reinforces the anxious behaviour and can make them fearful. When settling in your new puppy DAP pheromone diffusers can help to reduce stress.
A common problem of puppies and older dogs is separation anxiety which is when a dog becomes very stressed when they are left on their own. To avoid this try gradually increasing the time spent away from your new puppy, whilst you are both in and out of the house. You can start by using a baby gait so that they can still see you. Only return when your puppy is calm and quiet as rewards calm behaviour and reduced the risk of barking when you return. Try not to make a fuss of your puppy when you leave or return as this reinforces anxious behaviour. Give your puppy toys or treats when you leave as boredom can result in destructive behaviour. We advise that you sign up to a puppy class to socialise your puppy at an early stage with other dogs.
Your dog’s teeth should be clean and white. The gums should not be inflamed or swollen. It is good idea to get your puppy used to having their mouth examined and to start brushing their teeth if possible. Dry food can help to prevent the build-up of tartar. Other products are available to reduce plaque build-up including gum wipes, water additives and toothbrushes. There are also specialist diets that can help to remove tartar. Please ask at the practice for more details or come along to one of our free nurse clinics for a dental check-up.
Vaccination, neutering and routine dental care are usually not covered by insurance. If your pet already has a health condition when the policy is taken out it will not be covered including if you switch to another company. Some policies cover your pet for life against a condition whereas others will only cover for 12 months. Each insurance policy has different excesses and limits per condition. Some companies will not cover pets in the first 14 days of a policy being taken out. Many companies specify an age range they will accept, and may not insure older pets.
Neutering is the removal of reproductive organs. In males this is the removal of the testicles (castration) and can be done from 6 months of age. In females the ovaries and uterus are removed (spaying) and should be spayed 3 months after their first season. The first season can vary from 6 months to up to 1 year.
Advantages of neutering: In females, spaying early significantly reduce the chances of breast cancer developing later in life. Spaying at any time will also reduce the chances of developing pus in the womb (pyometra), which is common in older unspayed females and can be life threatening.
In males neutering can reduce sexual behaviours such as scent marking and reduces the risk of testicular cancers and prostrate disease.