Owning a dog can be an extremely rewarding experience, but it also carries with it some responsibility. We hope these notes will give you some help. If you have questions concerning any subject related to your puppy's health, please do not hesitate to telephone us.

When should my puppy be vaccinated?

There are various diseases that can be fatal to dogs. Fortunately, we have the ability to prevent some of these by the use of very effective vaccines. In order to be effective, and to overcome the problem of maternal antibodies interfering with vaccination, these vaccines are given as a series of injections, usually at 6-8 weeks, 10-12 weeks and 16-18 weeks old.  Our routine protocol is to vaccinate against Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus at all 3 puppy vaccinations and include vaccination against two types of tracheobronchitis (kennel cough) at the 2nd and 3rd vaccinations. This combined C5 vaccination is mandatory for any dog going into local boarding kennels.

What about worming?

Intestinal parasites are common in puppies. Puppies can become infected with parasites before they are born or later through their mother's milk. Modern deworming preparations are safe and effective and we recommend their use at two week intervals till 12 weeks old, then monthly till 6 months old and then 3 monthly. It is important that the medication is repeated since it is usually only the adult worms that are killed. Roundworms pose a small but definite risk to immunologically susceptible children therefore it is good practice to regularly administer deworming preparations to your dog throughout its life.

Tapeworms are the most commonly seen intestinal parasite of adult dogs, and occur in pups as well. Fleas are the common intermediate host so any pup or dog that has fleas can pick up tapeworm infection quite easily. Note that not all worming products cover tapeworm effectively so check with us on what to use.

What should I do about heartworm prevention?

Heartworm can be a life threatening disease for your pet as it may lead to heart and organ failure. It is transmitted by mosquitoes. Despite the incidence of heartworm in our area now being quite low, it is recommended that your dog remains on a heartworm preventative throughout his/her lifetime. There is a twelve monthly injection for heartworm prevention that can be administered with annual vaccinations. There are also various other preventative options that can be discussed with us and we will probably start prevention at your pup’s 12 week vaccination with a combination monthly chewable for heartworm, intestinal worms, flea and paralysis tick control. Note that heartworm prevention shouldn’t be started (or resumed after a period of discontinuity) in dogs older than 6 months without having a heartworm test first. Please also note that most tablets called an “Allwormer” do not cover your pet for heartworm prevention.

What can be done about fleas and ticks on my puppy?

It’s worthwhile consulting your veterinary surgeon regarding flea and tick control in any young animal. Today there are new, innovative products which are eminently suitable for use on even very tiny puppies – our usual recommendation is to start pups on a monthly chewable which combines flea, tick and intestinal worming control and heartworm prevention. Older flea control products like powders and shampoos are relatively ineffective.

What should I feed my puppy?

Diet is extremely important in the growing months of a dog's life and should provide adequate and balanced nutrition as well as incorporating some form of chewing to keep teeth clean and healthy. Commercial dog foods are convenient and generally provide adequate nutrition. The commercial dry dog foods available at pet shops and supermarkets are convenient and should all provide adequate nutrition. All well known brands of “complete” dry food should provide adequate balanced nutrition. However the digestibility (and hence maintenance volume required and stool volume) will vary from product to product and it is probably fair to make the generalisation that the cheaper the dry food the lower the digestibility (ie need to feed greater volume, dog produces more faeces). More expensive dry foods tend to use protein sources of higher digestibility and higher cost.

Canned food contains about 75% water compared with only 10% in dry food. Table left-overs (meat, vegetables, rice, and pasta) are a perfectly good supplement to commercial foods and provide a bit of variety. Avoid anything that is spicy or particularly fatty. Please DO NOT feed onion, grapes (including raisins and sultanas), avocado, macadamia nuts and chocolate-these are poisonous to dogs.

Raw meaty bones given at least twice weekly are certainly effective at keeping teeth clean but opinions now vary as to whether bones should be given as they can sometimes crack teeth. Rawhide chews and very hard treat-type large dog biscuits may assist to keep teeth clean, and there are a wide range of "treat" type products (e.g. "Greenies)" that can provide  improved dental hygiene. Specialist prescription dental diets are also available. In more recent years veterinarians have been recommending brushing a dog's teeth (with specially made toothbrushes and tooth pastes) and this is worth discussing if your dog is likely to tolerate toothbrushing. 

Can I trim my puppy's sharp toe nails?

Young puppies have very sharp toe nails which may need to be trimmed with nail clippers. Care is required to avoid the quick area which will bleed if cut. Most pups, especially older,  active ones, will tend to wear their nails off naturally on rough surfaces such as pavements and shouldn't need nail clipping.

Why should I have my dog desexed?

Desexing dogs is to be encouraged unless the animal is to be used for breeding. In females this will eliminate the 6 monthly heat periods which produce vulval bleeding and may attract all manner of male dogs to your doorstep!. It also eliminates the chance of unwanted pregnancy and uterine infections and significantly reduces the incidence of breast cancer in older dogs. In male dogs desexing will reduce  “marking” type urination and aggression, particularly aggression toward other male dogs. It eliminates the chance of testicular tumors and also greatly reduces the chance of  prostate problems and prostate cancer in old age. We usually recommend having desexing done at between 5.5 and 6 months of age.

Training and socialising your puppy

Responsible ownership involves having a well-trained, well socialised pup. The training and socialisation should start as soon as the puppy is acquired. Puppies are continuously learning from the moment their eyes are open so training is not just some formal process that occurs whenever we are together with a dog. Stimulating play is important during the first weeks – plenty of toys and enjoyable interaction with family is essential. An important socialisation period for dogs is between 6 and 14 weeks of age. During that time, the puppy is very impressionable to social influences. If it has good experiences with men, women, children, cats, other dogs, etc. it is likely to accept them throughout life so pups should be handled by family members and strangers as soon as possible. Training and socialisation are intermixed - a well socialised dog is usually a well trained dog and vice versa. Therefore, during the period of socialisation, we encourage you to expose your pup to as many types of social events and influences as possible, particularly if your pup has a tendency to be a bit timid. Puppy training schools are a great opportunity for socialisation and for owners to get some tips on training a growing pup – we have a list of local training schools which we can print off for you.

There is a dilemma here in striking a balance between waiting till a pup is fully vaccinated (ie 16 weeks old) and starting socialisation (eg puppy classes). Puppy classes where all pups have had at least one or two vaccinations are probably safe enough in our area, but visits to places where lots of adult dogs congregate (eg leash free areas) are best left till after the full vaccination course (16 weeks)

Basic training of a puppy is not a very difficult task provided certain simple rules are followed:-

  • Keep the tasks simple and only go one step at a time, teach sounds and words as commands (not sentences), be effusive with your praise and don't be afraid to use food rewards (liver treats are excellent), ignore failures (definitely don’t punish the puppy as bad experiences may produce a timid animal) and BE CONSISTENT (this applies to everyone in the family).
  • If you feel your puppy has a problem with aggression or timidity then seek further advise on how to help the situation. 



  • Vaccinations: Puppies have 3 sets of vaccinations, 6-8 weeks (C3), 12-14 weeks (C5) and 16-18 weeks (C5).

            C3= Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus

            C5= the above + Kennel Cough (Parainfluenza and Bordatella)