Buying and caring for a puppy
Before you buy...
Spend some time considering your family and your home. A Great Dane is probably not the ideal dog for a town house or unit and a Sharpei is probably not a great choice for a family with young children.
Some important things to consider in this regard are
- Activity level
- Ability to get along with other pets
Also consider your new pets' coat and the demandsnof having a long or thick coated dog. A Maltese Shihtzu is not a good choice for a farm dog where grass seeds are likely to be a major concern and a Lhasa Apso or poodle will need a lot of grooming.
If you need some help with this decision feel free to give us a call. Also it is worth discussing the breed with the various breed associations. If you would be happy with a mixed breed dog consider adopting one from a welfare organisation and giving a dog a second chance at life.
If you are looking for a breeder of pure bed dogs try to;
- ask for recommendations from the breed association
- ask if the dogs have been vet checked, micro-chipped and vaccinated
- ask about the health of the parents of your new pet. Have they had any testing done to check for inheritable diseases?
So you have your new little ball of energy, what now?
Puppies should be fed on a good quality puppy food. For large breed dogs like golden retrievers, labs, German Shepherds etc. it is important to feed a large breed puppy food and stick to the packet guidelines for how much to feed. Choosing the wrong food may result in poor bone growth and lifelong problems. For more information see our 'feeding my dog' page.
There are two general types of worms that we need to consider;
There are a variety of worms that can infect dogs and many of these can also infect humans. Even with the best worming practices all puppies will get worms from their mother. It is especially important to treat these in puppies as their immune system has not yet learnt how to fight worms and they can get so many that they can get very sick or even die. Puppies should be wormed according to the following program with a good quality intestinal wormer such as Drontal syrup or tablets. Avoid supermarket preparations as these may be less effective.
When to worm
- Every 2 weeks from birth to 12 weeks old
- Monthly from 12 weeks to 6 months
- Then every 3 months for life
Pictured to the right - a puppy suffering from a massive worm burden
Heartworm is spread by mosquitoes which deliver the tiny larvae under the dog’s skin. Over time these migrate to the heart where they grow into very large worms. These can lead to heart failure, which is usually the first sign that a dog has heart worm.
Heartworm is treatable but the damage caused to the heart by the worms is not and the treatment can be dangerous. For this reason prevention is far better than a cure.
There are two commonly used types of prevention. Monthly treatments (tablets or spot ons) are very effective however these are often forgotten. Missing only one of these monthly treatments can allow a heartworm infection to become established. For this reason these are often only recommended for people who are confident they will not forget to give them.
Many people choose the annual injection because it takes away the stress each month. This is usually administered when your dog gets its annual vaccination each year. This prevents a heartworm infection becoming established.
Puppies grow quickly, so they do need more than one injection in their first year of life; the first injection is given at 12 weeks of age and a and a booster is given when they are around 6 months old. After this, they given an injection with their annual vaccination each year, starting at around 15 months of age.
Your puppy may have had a vaccination with the breeder, in which case they should have a vaccine card signed by the vet that will tell you when they are next due for a needle. If not please contact the clinic as soon as possible to discuss what to do next.
Generally at Vet 2 Pet puppies will get one vaccination at 6-8 weeks old. This starts to develop immunity against 3 key diseases: Distemper, Canine Infectious Hepatitis and Parvovirus
The second vaccination is given at 12 weeks old and boosts the first injection. At this time your puppy will usually receive another vaccine dribbled down their nostrils. This vaccine develops protection against canine cough and is more effective when given this way. It also removes the need for your pet to have a third vaccination. This means you can start socialising them earlier.
Generally we recommend you do not start walking you dog until 10-14 days after this vaccination. Starting puppy school is allowed after the first vaccination as all dogs attending puppy school should be healthy and vaccinated. This scenario is low risk and we believe the benefit of early socialisation is worth it!
A third vaccination at or after 16 weeks of age is advised to complete the puppy vaccination course.
If you are not planning to breed your dog then we highly advise that you consider desexing. Desexing has many health benefits including:
- Reducing behaviours driven by the so called 'sex' hormones: oestrogen and testosterone. This includes aggression, sent marking and even roaming.
- Removing the risk of nasty cancers like uterine and ovarian cancer as well as testicular cancer
- Reducing the risk of other tumours drastically like breast cancers.
- Reducing the risk of may other diseases such as prostate infections and uterine infections (pyometra)
- Stopping unwanted pregnancy
If you are planning to breed from your dog we highly advise that you seek advice before doing so and get both parent animals thoroughly health checked. Consider the risk to your pet and the number of unwanted puppies that are euthanised every year in shelters. Breeding is a big commitment and will need you to do a lot of research and time, especially if things don’t go well!
We generally recommend desexing from around 6 months of age in small breeds as the body is mature enough to undergo the surgery with similar safety to that of an adult animal. However, the reproductive organs are far less developed, which allows for a shorter operation, a smaller incision and a faster recovery. It also minimises the risk of having a heat which increases their risk of breast cancer drastically. Desexing can be performed from 16 weeks, however there is a benefit in allowing some skeletal development to occur.
For larger breeds we tailor our recommendations depending on their growth rate. Ideally we want to allow the bones time to form before we remove the organs that produce their sex hormones. Please discuss this with your vet when you visit.
All desexing procedures are performed at the clinic. For your pets' safety, we do not offer surgical procedures outside of the clinic.