A puppy (like Holly’s beautiful puppy Mojo, above) can be a wonderful addition to a family, but they require lots of love and attention. Before you get your pet, make sure that you know how to care for it:
Food and water bowls: Use a narrow bowl if your dog has long ears that may fall into its food. Ceramic or stainless steel bowls are generally best as plastic ones can become chew toys and tooth marks can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
Diet: Whereas adult dogs require food to maintain their bodies and function properly, puppies need a higher level of nutrition in order to develop and grow. It is essential that a good quality puppy or growth food is provided. Large breeds require different levels of protein and calcium to the smaller breeds.
Excessive nutrition on the other hand can cause developmental, joint and organ diseases, particularly if fed during the 2 to 6 month age period. It is not possible for manufacturers to advise how much to feed each and every breed; if a German Shepherd and a Labrador were given the same amounts of food, the Labrador would gain weight rapidly and the German Shepherd would waste away.
Let your pup tell you how much to feed, by giving a bowl of food and then removing it when the pup stops eating after 10 minutes. The amount eaten will give you an idea of how much to feed at each meal. If the pup ever finishes a meal in less than 10 minutes and looks hungrily at you, give a little more. If any is left, give less the next time.
Housing: You may want to get a stair gate or a crate to put your puppy in when you’re going out, so that it does not have free range of the house when you’re not there to supervise. Crates should be made to be very comfortable and become your pup’s special place, rather then a place to confine then for punishment
Worming: Puppies are infested with roundworms even before they are born, even if the mother is treated for worms (apart from Fenbendazole given at the manufacturers recommendation every day from day 40 of the pregnancy).
Although many of these worms are in the digestive tract, some of the larval stages of the roundworms can migrate through many of the organs and will not be killed by most of the routine worm remedies. All puppies should be treated at the age of 2 weeks, with a remedy effective against roundworms and the roundworm larval stages.
There is no way of killing off the eggs that the worms will produce, and since these eggs are passed in the stools of the puppies, they will quickly reinfest themselves. It is important to treat them every 2 weeks (up to the age of 3 months) in order to try and break the life cycle of these roundworms.
Older dogs develop some resistance to migrating worm larva and only those worms living in the gut need to be treated. The range of worms increases as puppies become exposed to fleas, rodents and larger animals. Broad spectrum wormers that are safe and effective against all the different types of worm should be given monthly to pups between the ages of 3 to 6 months. Dogs over 6 months can be treated every quarter.
You can also have a look at our VIP scheme for more information about the programme that we recommend.
Flea treatment: Most untreated dogs will pick up fleas at some stage of their life. Although it is reasonable to wait until they do before treating, remember that each flea you see, will have laid thousands of eggs the size and colour of salt grains that will fall off your dog and can remain dormant for seven years in carpets, floorboard cracks and under skirting boards.
The alternative option would be to use a safe, effective preventative remedy. There are now a number of very suitable products available. Unfortunately, there are still a few very dangerous products on the market and a plethora of totally inadequate ‘flea remedies’ that do very little apart from amusing the fleas.
Flea larva will carry tapeworm eggs and the control of these worms also requires adequate flea prevention. Be sure to continue flea prevention throughout winter if you have central heating and in the event of an infestation, take advice from your vet regarding treatment of your house and pets.
You can also have a look at our VIP scheme for more information about the programme that we recommend.
Ticks: Ticks are generally only a sporadic problem in summer although in some forested areas they can be of greater concern. Ticks can carry serious diseases and advice should be obtained from your vet if your dog falls ill in the month after you find a tick on your pet. Only a few of the flea remedies will have any effect on ticks. If you find a tick, consult your vet on which remedy to use. If they become a regular nuisance, it may be wise to use a suitable combined flea and tick preventative on a regular basis.
Lice and Mites: Most of the safe and effective flea remedies will prevent lice and mites. Some mites, such as Demodex spp and Sarcops scabei may require more aggressive treatment but routine prevention is not normally necessary for these parasites.
Vaccinations: Your puppy should have its first vaccinations at 8 and 10 weeks. When your pet has its first vaccinations we will make sure to give them a treat and make a fuss of them, so that they will find visits to the vet fun rather than scary.
It is a very good idea to give the absolute minimum vaccines and some of them, such as Distemper, will last for several years. Others, such as Leptospirosis, need to be given annually. Your vet will also know of any outbreaks of infectious diseases, such as Parvo-virus and may advise more regular vaccination at such times.
Even more important than an annual vaccination is a medical examination by a qualified veterinarian. All vets constantly see animals with conditions that have become serious purely because the owner was not aware of what to look for. Many of these conditions, if treated early, could prevent immense suffering and expense.
Routine vaccinations currently given to dogs in the U.K. are:
Distemper A virus causing fatal respiratory and brain symptoms
Hepatitis A virus causing liver and ocular damage
Parvo-virus A virus causing severe vomiting and bloody diarrhoea.
Leptospirosis A bacterium from rodents affecting many organs.
Bordetella A bacterium causing a severe but non-fatal cough.
Many other countries also vaccinate against rabies. Dogs travelling in the EU or other areas that are part of the P.E.T. Scheme, also require vaccination against rabies.
Neutering: Most puppies are neutered (spayed or castrated) at 6 months old. You can read our blog here on the benefits of neutering.
Leads, Harnesses, Collars and ID tags: By law all dogs need to wear an ID tag with their owner’s name and address. It might be a good idea to add your phone number or your vet’s contact details too. You can order one from us in a range of shapes and colours. Just call us on the number below to order. We also have a range of collars and leads in our waiting area for you to choose from. Just make sure you don’t take your puppy for a walk until they’ve had their vaccinations.
Microchipping: To help prevent your pet from being lost or stolen, we recommend microchipping. This can be done during a consultation with the vet or when your puppy is neutered. If the puppy is already microchipped then the breeder can change the registration to your address.
Chews and toys: It’s a good idea to give your dog something to chew on rather than your shoes. We have a selection of toys and chews in stock for you to choose from. Just come and have a look in our waiting room or speak to a member of staff to find out about how some of our chews can help with dental hygiene.
Brushes, shampoo and nail clippers: Brushing and washing your pet is not only good for their coat but can be an important bonding experience. We have a range of brushes and shampoos in our waiting area and our receptionists are happy to talk to you about which one would be best for your pet. If you are worried about clipping your dogs nails then book an appointment with one of our nurses and we’d be happy to do it for you. Just call us on the number below to book.
Socialisation: Just as children need to learn to cope with life, puppies have to be exposed to the world during the first six months of their lives. Once they are vaccinated against infectious diseases, it is a good idea to get them to mix with as many people and other dogs as possible. Take them to areas with heavy traffic, get them used to fireworks and generally let them experience as much as possible before their characters are fixed.
Don’t rely on friends and neighbours – expose them to strangers and aggressive dogs, while still being on hand to protect and comfort them. Don’t pick themup and cuddle them when they get a fright – rather act as if it is no big deal and your puppy will take its cue form you and act the same way the next time it meets the same challenge.
Exercise: Young animals need adequate exercise in order to develop and grow their bones and muscles, whereas excessive exercise at a young age can cause joint problems later in life. Under the age of six months, a ten to thirty minute walk is probably adequate. Long runs are not a good idea until the dog has matured.
Pet insurance: It’s important to compare different insurance policies. Make sure you insure your pet as soon as possible as most policies will not cover pre-existing conditions. Choose a policy which will cover your pet for life and will not exclude conditions each time your renew. Make sure the level of cover per condition is adequate. If you find a policy you are happy with, stick with it even if you feel that you are not getting any value from it – you will regret cancelling it when things go wrong later.
If you prefer to set aside money for medical care, we recommend a sum of £3000-5000 for emergencies. You will need to have the money set aside as soon as you buy your puppy. It does not work to start with a zero balance and pay in each month since an emergency in early life will not be covered.
Our VIP Scheme: For information on how we can help you with the cost of looking after a new puppy, click here.
If you would like any more information then phone 01621 818282 (Tiptree Veterinary Centre) or 01206 561407 (Willows Veterinary Centre) to book an appointment with one of our vets. You can also visit our websites at www.tiptreevets.co.uk or www.willows-vets.co.uk