Congratulations on your new puppy! We have put together a few useful tips and information to help you in the first few months with your new family member. Please do not hesitate to call or drop into the clinic if you have any questions or issues you would like to discuss - we are always happy to help to try and stop small problems becoming big ones.
Socialisation is incredibly important for your puppy. The ‘sensitive period' when puppies learn how to interact with other dogs, people and things in their environment is between 8 weeks and 16 weeks of age. If your puppy is not exposed to things such as other dogs, children or certain noises then they are likely to react either by being fearful or aggressive when they are later exposed to them. Therefore it is vital that you start socialization early on.
Puppy school is an ideal way to socialize your puppy from a young age and also train him or her. It can also be a great help with problem behaviours such as biting and chewing and destructive behaviours. We run weekly puppy school classes with a Delta Society Canine Good Citizen accredited trainer, please ask at reception for details. Dogs or puppies owned by neighbours, friends or family members are also a great way to socialize your puppy as long as they are fully vaccinated, healthy and not aggressive.
Puppies should be vaccinated with a 'C5' vaccine against canine parvovirus, distemper, canine infectious hepatitis and canine cough. Vaccinations are given at 6-8 weeks, 12-14 weeks and 16-18 weeks. For dogs to be admitted to a kennel they will need to be vaccinated. Booster vaccines are given yearly.
Dogs can suffer from roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms. Puppies will be born with roundworms as they are infected from the mother while she is pregnant. The worms also infect the puppy through the mother's milk. Large numbers of worms can be dangerous for puppies and cause stunted growth and diarrhoea. Importantly, roundworms can cause serious disease in humans, particularly children. The larvae can migrate through the body and can cause ocular larval migrans (larvae in the eye) or visceral larval migrans (larvae in the liver or other organs). Puppies should be wormed every 2 weeks up until 12 weeks of age, then monthly until 6 months of age. After 6 months dogs should be wormed every 3 months unless visiting areas where there are sheep when they should be wormed every 6 weeks for hydatid tapeworm. We recommend using a good quality all-wormer such as Drontal. Intestinal worm prevention can also be combined with heartworm prevention (such as Interceptor and Milbemax) and flea treatment (Advocate and Sentinel).
Although heartworm is an uncommon disease in Melbourne cases have been reported. The disease is spread by mosquitos and the large worms infest the heart and lungs, causing heart failure. Treatment of adult heartworm infection is extremely difficult and both the disease and the treatment can be fatal. For this reason we recommend using heartworm prevention. This can be in the form of a monthly treatment (often combined with intestinal worm or flea control) or a yearly injection, which can be given at the same time as vaccination. Heartworm prevention should be started at 3 months of age.
We recommend spot-on treatments such as Frontline, Revolution or Advocate to control fleas. We have not found the spot-on preparations sold in supermarkets or fleas collars to be effective. Flea shampoos may kill the fleas on the day they are applied but are ineffective as they provide no lasting protection. Fleas can cause a variety of skin conditions in dogs and we advise using regular flea control.
We recommend a premium quality balanced dry puppy food such as Advance, Hills or Iams be fed. Raw bones should be offered at least weekly to maintain dental health. Dogs should have access to clean, fresh water at all times, particularly if fed dry food.
All dogs that are not being kept for breeding should be desexed at 5-6 months of age. In males desexing reduces roaming, aggression and urine marking, prevents testicular cancer and reduces the risk of prostate disease and perineal hernias. In females desexing prevents unwanted litters and greatly reduces the risk of breast cancer, ovarian and uterine cancers and uterine infections, which can be life threatening.
We recommend all dogs are microchipped as a permanent form of identification. Your dog will need to be microchipped in order to be registered with the council. Microchipping involves the implantation of a rice-grain sized chip with a unique number on it that relates to your details on a database. It is important to change your details on the database if you move house! We can implant microchips at desexing while your pet is under anaesthetic or in the consult room.
Poisonous or dangerous items around the house
- Human medications (including ibuprofen and paracetomol) are often toxic to dogs and can be chewed accidentally by curious puppies.
- Rat poison causes the blood to stop clotting and can be fatal. The poison is highly attractive to dogs and they may be poisoned by eating rats that have eaten the poison.
- Snail and slug baits are also toxic (even those marketed as safe for pets) and attractive to dogs who will seek them out.
- Electrical cords can be fatal if chewed on
- Cooked bones should never be fed as they splinter and can cause obstructions or perforate the intestines. Take care with socks, underwear, toys, plastic and other such items if your puppy likes to chew on things - we frequently remove these from dogs intestines!
Basic training such as ‘sit', ‘stay' and ‘drop' can begin immediately. Try and keep training sessions short as puppies have short attention spans. The general rule in training puppies is ‘reward the positive' (with treats and attention) and ‘ignore the negative'. This also applies to toilet training. Look for signs your puppy needs to go, such as looking unsettled and sniffing around, then take him or her outside and wait. When he or she goes outside reward them with treats and attention. Never punish your puppy if you find an accident inside as they will not understand. Clean up accidents with a specific urine removal product, do not use ammonia-based cleaners as they smell like urine to the puppy and do not remove the smell.