Congratulations on the arrival of your new puppy! Here are a few tips and suggestions to help you on your way towards owning a happy and healthy puppy and leading your pet into adulthood.
Here at Twickenham Veterinary Surgery, we want to ensure that your puppy mounts the best immune response he or she can against the common diseases that affect dogs. Therefore, we recommend vaccinating your puppy at eight, 10 and 14 weeks, and that the first year booster is then done within 12 months of the 14 week vaccination. This will give your puppy the strongest immunity possible against Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza, Leptospirosis and Kennel Cough. Following the first year booster, your puppy will only receive the Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus parts of the vaccination every third year.
Pregnant bitches transmit worms to the pups via the placenta and then, once born, through the milk. Worm burdens in pups can therefore depend on the mother’s worming schedule and living conditions. Worms can cause intestinal blockage and can actually lead to death in pups that have not received adequate worming treatment.
We recommend worming pups every two weeks until 12 weeks of age and then every month thereafter. Not all wormers are the same. Some wormers will prevent Toxocara, which can cause blindness in children, and some will prevent lungworm. Please ask the vet for more information.
Puppies are not immune to fleas and may have picked up some unwelcome visitors from their mother or from the environment. It is important to use a flea treatment that not only works but is safe for your puppy. We can discuss the best flea treatment for your puppy and recommend an ongoing prevention regime to protect him or her against fleas. If the flea burden is large, we may recommend treating the environment as well. As fleas often carry worm eggs, we are likely also to recommend worming at the same time as flea treatment.
New legislation means that all dogs will need to be microchipped. This involves implanting a silicone chip as small as a grain of rice under the skin at the back of the neck. This chip contains a number that can be read by a special scanner. When it is implanted, we will take all your contact details, which get sent to a central database. If your dog goes missing and is handed in to a vet or rescue centre, they will be able to contact you and reunite you with your dog. If you move, you must inform the microchip people of your new address and contact details, otherwise you won’t be able to be contacted if your dog goes missing.
Microchipping is also the first step towards getting your dog on the Pets Passport Scheme which you can read more about under travels abroad.
Getting your puppy started on a good, balanced puppy food means that you will be getting him or her off to a flying start, nutritionally speaking. We recommend the Royal Canin food range which has been designed to take into account the nutritional needs of all different shapes and sizes of dogs at the different stages of their lives. Some breeds have specific diets designed just for them and are aimed towards preventing common problems in the breed. The Royal Canin range is quite complicated, so please do not hesitate to ask us about the best diet for your puppy. It is important when introducing a new diet to your puppy to do it gradually to avoid any tummy upsets. Please ask us for advice if you are not sure how to do this, our experienced nurses will be happy to help you.
If you are not intending to breed from your new puppy when he or she becomes an adult, then neutering your pet would be advisable. Spaying your female will have medical benefits; it can prevent mammary tumours later in life, pyometra (a potentially life-threatening infection of the womb), ovarian and uterine cancer. It will also stop her from coming into heat every six months, where it is usual for bitches to spot blood from the vulva for seven to ten days.
For male dogs, castration prevents testicular cancer, reduces the incidence of prostatic disease, anal tumours and male dominant testosterone fuelled behaviour.
We recommend neutering from five months of age. Your pet will need to be starved overnight, then they will spend the day at the surgery. They will receive a pre-med and painkilling injection before having the operation, and should be ready to come home the same afternoon. Read more about pre-operation procedures here.
The most susceptible time in a puppy’s life to experience and react to situations is between seven and 12 weeks of age. This is called the socialisation period. It is a great time to socialise your pup with other dogs but this needs to be in safe environments; not on the streets or in parks, but in gardens or friend’s houses who have fully vaccinated sociable dogs.
Puppy parties and training classes are ideal and will mostly take your puppy after the first vaccination. Your puppy will become well socialised and you may pick up some useful pointers on training. Socialisation is an incredibly important part of your puppy’s life. It will give him or her the best chance of becoming a socially balanced adult.
It is also important to get your puppy used to loud noises (such as vacuum cleaners, loud bangs), the noise of traffic (you can achieve this by carrying your puppy down busy roads), children playing and general household noises.
An finally, it is essential to get your puppy used to being handled and checked over. Getting them used to having their mouth opened and ears and feet checked will enable you to do these things later in life and will make veterinary checks less stressful in the future. This can be incorporated into play time and can strengthen the bond between you and your puppy.
The amount of exercise your puppy needs is a controversial subject. It is best to instigate a regular and consistent exercise regime for your puppy, rather than providing the occasional long walk. It is best to avoid ‘high impact’ exercises whilst your puppy is growing (such as chasing balls and frisbees) as this can put a lot of pressure on the growing joints.
This is very much an individual choice. It depends on what you want from your policy and what level of cover you require. Lifelong policies are best as they cover your dog for life rather than for a specified period or up to a certain sum. We have a selection of insurance leaflets at the surgery and are happy to advise you, but the final choice is yours. Just remember to always read the small print!