Bringing home a new puppy is such an exciting and occasionally challenging time. With all young animals it is essential that they get the best start to life in order to grow and develop into healthy adults. During the first year of a puppies life they do require some specific health care, a little different to an adult dog. Discussed below are few health tips that all puppy owners should consider and undertake in help their puppy to reach adulthood in optimum health and ready for many years to come.
Ideally you should take your dog to a vet for their first checkup within a week or two of getting them home (this may coincide with a vaccination) This will allow the vet to make sure they are in good health after leaving their mother and aid in picking up any health concerns early.
Vaccinations can protect your dog from some horrible and potentially fatal diseases. It is important that puppies adhere to a vaccination program as directed by their vet as they are more susceptible to some of these diseases early in life. Puppies should receive their first vaccination between six and eight weeks of age with another one given four weeks later. Dependant on the vaccination type given they may require a third vaccine one month later. As adult dog’s they will then need a booster (for certain vaccine components) every year.
There are a number of intestinal worms which can affect puppies with the potential to make them very sick and even lead to death. All puppies should be wormed with an appropriate intestinal wormer every two weeks until they are 12 weeks of age and then every month until six months old. They should then be routinely wormed every three months for the rest of their life.
Fleas and ticks are the most common external parasites to affect puppies and are not only annoying but can contribute to serious illnesses or in the case of a paralysis tick can cause death very quickly. There are a number of products available to protect puppies from flea and ticks, just be sure to select one that is suitable for the weight of the dog and safe to use on their age. Be sure to follow the directions and use as prescribed, whether that be fortnightly, monthly or three-monthly and continue to use a flea and tick product routinely for their entire life.
Heartworm is a worm that is spread by mosquitoes from dog to dog and will grow in the dog’s heart causing life threatening illnesses. Prevention is easy by using either a heartworm prevention product available in forms that can be given daily, monthly or even a yearly injection administered by your veterinarian. Heartworm prevention can be started from twelve weeks of age (following the instructions on the product) and should always be started before six months of age.
Desexing is important for not only preventing unwanted puppies but there are some other benefits such as reducing wandering and fighting as well as decreasing the risk of certain cancers. Desexing should take place as puppies are approaching sexual maturity, usually around five to six months of age.
Puppies have different nutritional needs to adult dog to support their growing and developing bodies. Feeding your puppy a well balanced and correctly formulated diet for puppies is essential in their early growing stages of life. Many puppies will come with recommendations from the breeder or seller on what to feed or discuss what would be best with your vet at their first check-up.
If your puppy ever seems to be unwell, depressed, lethargic, is vomiting or has diarrhea please get them checked by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Originally published in My Pet Magazine Issue 16, Spring 2018.
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