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So you’ve just become the proud parent of a beautiful little puppy. Congratulations! Unfortunately though, it’s not all playing and cooing over his/her cuteness. There’s loads you need to be aware of in order to keep your pup healthy. Here’s our rundown of all the things you need to do and look out for:
Vaccinations for puppies
It is recommended that puppies receive a series of vaccinations to protect them against at least Parvovirus, Distemper and Hepatitis. Action: Take your puppy to the vet and book appointments for these important vaccinations.
Puppies can be infected with worms before they are born, through their mothers milk, and from worm eggs and larvae in their environment. Puppies should be wormed regularly for roundworm, hookworm, tapeworm and whipworm.
Action: Administer an intestinal wormer at 2, 4, 8 and 12 weeks, then at 4, 5 and 6 months. After that, they should be treated every 3 months for life.
Heartworm in young dogs
Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes and infect the heart. The adult worms can prevent the heart from working properly causing disease and death if not treated.
Action: Ensure you start your puppy on heartworm prevention as early as possible. A variety of formulations are available such as monthly tablets or top spots, or annual injections administered by your vet.
Puppies with fleas
Fleas are a terrible nuisance and can cause aggravating skin problems. Many dogs are also allergic to fleas and fleas can also transmit infectious diseases to animals and humans. If left uncontrolled, fleas can quickly breed to create an unwelcome infestation in your home - a breeding pair of fleas can produce more than 20,000 fleas in 3 months, so it’s important to fix the problem sooner rather than later.
Action: There are several options for flea control, including spot on products that provide monthly protection. Talk to your vet about the best option for your puppy.
Desexing your puppy
Unless you intend to breed your dog, it is advised that you desex your pup to avoid unwanted pregnancies. Desexing also decreases the risk of mammary cancer in female dogs and prostate problems in males. Desexed dogs may also be less likely to roam and fight.
Action: Talk to your vet for more information.
You puppy’s diet
There’s a huge variety of commercial dog foods on the market and we recommend the premium brands of dry dog food as they are nutrionally balanced and highly digestible.
Action: If you prefer an all-natural diet or have any concerns, please discuss with your vet.
Dental care for pups
Gum disease is very common in dogs so regular attention should be given to dental care.
Action: Certain dry foods and toys are available to help clean the teeth and gums. You can also brush your dog’s teeth regularly using a special dog toothbrush and paste - this is best if started from puppy hood.
Grooming your puppy
All dogs require some grooming, no matter how short their coat is. However different breeds of dogs have a variety of grooming requirements.
Action: Get your puppy used to the basics by brushing his coat regularly with a soft brush, paying special attention to the ears, belly and tail. It helps to get your puppy used to regular bathing too. Also, if your puppy is going to require clipping, it’s a good idea to expose him early on to the sights and sounds of a grooming salon.
A dog’s nails continue to grow and, unless he’s pounding the pavements every day, it is likely that they’ll need regular trimming. Action: Only cut the tip of the nail, avoiding the blood vessel inside (called the quick). You can see the quick inside light coloured nails, but cannot see it in dark nails.
It is vitally important to handle your puppy on a daily basis so that he gets used to being touched and held by you.
Action: Touch and handle his/her feet, tail, ears, etc, and make sure you get him/her used to having his mouth opened and tail lifted. Constantly reassure and reward your puppy so that he/she learns that being touched is fun.
Author bio: PawClub’s Dr Katrina Warren is a veterinarian who first appeared on our television screens in 1994 as a presenter on the children’s show, Totally Wild. Dr Katrina regularly appears across all media platforms- television, radio, print and internet. Katrina is passionate about helping people enhance the special bond that is shared with pets and currently shares her home with her daughter, Charlotte, a Maine Coon cat called Mr Fox and an adopted Golden Retriever called Riley.