Basic Puppy Health Care

Vaccinations

Vaccinations are a crucial component of any puppy’s health regimen. They protect them against common and potentially deadly diseases and are relatively cheap and easy.

All puppies should be vaccinated with the C3 Core Vaccine. This protects against 3 of the most common, deadly viruses that your puppy is likely to encounter, Distemper, Parvovirus, and Hepatitis. In addition, we recommend the C5 vaccine, which protects against the two major causes of Canine Cough, Parainfluenzea and Bordatella Bronchiseptica. The C7 vaccination is not always necessary but can be recommended by some vets where puppies need this C7 vaccination as protection against Leptospirosis and Tetanus in areas of Australia where these viruses are a risk.

If all this technical language seems a bit confusing, don’t stress! Check out our in-depth article about vaccinations (when and how), here.  

Desexing

New puppy owners are always faced with a difficult question, should I desex my new puppy? While different factors might weigh in on this decision, many would consider desexing your puppy as the responsible decision to make as an owner. Most veterinarians recommend that all puppies should be desexed before they reach 6 months to reduce the onset of potentially negative behaviours associated with sexual maturity in puppies.

What to Consider When Choosing Whether to Desex a Puppy

Firstly, will you be attempting to breed your puppy. That is, do you have the intention and ability to professionally breed your puppy in the future? If so, consult your veterinarian about what the correct procedure will be for your case.

Next, is your puppy a male or a female? Male desexing, called castration, and female desexing, called spaying, are different procedures, with different benefits and different risks. It is worth considering how desexing will affect your puppy in general before deciding on when to desex your puppy.

Lastly, is your puppy a larger breed, or do they have a higher risk of hip dysplasia or cruciate ligament disease? Desexing has been shown to, in some cases, increase the risk of these diseases. If your puppy is prone to joint related illnesses, it might be a good idea to consult your veterinarian about whether late age desexing is right for your puppy.

For an in-depth discussion of desexing visit Should I Get My Puppy Desexed, and What is the Right Age to Get My Puppy Desexed?

Dental Care

Many dogs over the age of 4 (up to 80%) will experience some type of gum disease. These diseases can lead to potentially irreversible damage to the gums, teeth, and other organs. With dental disease, prevention is always better than cure and it pays to provide your puppy with a great oral hygiene routine. This includes a balanced, quality, nutritious diet, and raw bones up to once a week. Naturally, dogs will gnaw at the bones of their prey after a kill and this will keep their teeth in check so its important to replicate this in the domestic setting. Lastly, its also important to have your puppy’s teeth regularly checked out and cleaned to ensure any issue is caught early. Find out more about dental care here.

Heartworm and Gastro-Intestinal Worms

Heartworms

Heartworms are thin parasites, approximately 30cm long which live in the heart and surrounding arteries and feed on surrounding blood. Heartworm larvae are spread by mosquito bite and quickly find their way to the heart, rapidly growing and multiplying.

The best way to avoid the risks of heartworm is prevention as it can be dangerous and difficult to have them removed. Monthly spot-on treatments and year-long injections can be applied from 12 weeks to minimise the risk of infestation.

Gastro-Intestinal Worms

Many puppies come home already somewhat infected with gastrointestinal worms. These parasites include hookworm, tapeworm, roundworm, and whipworm. Gastrointestinal worms can cause discomfort, diarrhoea, bleeding, and pain. Luckily, worms are relatively easy to prevent using a range of products available on the market. Chewable tablets, dissolvable tablets, and spot-on liquids can all be applied to treat and prevent gastro-intestinal worms.

In general, puppies should be treated for worms once every two weeks, until twelve weeks of age. Then, they should be treated for worms once every month, until 6 months of age. After 6 months, a puppy should generally receive worming treatment once every 3 months.

Depending on the product you choose, and the recommendation of your veterinarian, this schedule may be altered in some way. Always, refer to the advice of a professional before treating your puppy!

Fleas and Ticks

Fleas are so abundant that all pets will be exposed to them at one point. Fleas can cause unnecessary discomfort and pain for a puppy. For this reason, we highly recommend using a regular flea treatment whether you can see fleas or not. Spot-On treatments are easy to buy, apply, and maintain and can be found almost anywhere.

In Australia, ticks come in two varieties the brown tick and the paralysis tick. The deadly paralysis tick can cause serious health issues that result in excruciating pain, large vet bills, and potential death. To prevent the possibility of this scenario, we recommend looking for a flea treatment which also targets and prevents ticks from attacking your dog.  

Coat Care

A dog’s coat is a major indication of their health all round. To maintain your puppy’s youthful sheen, wash them regularly and use a specifically formulated dog shampoo, only when necessary. Puppies have a different pH balance to humans, and so it is very important that you never use human shampoo on your puppy. Regular brushing will help deter matting and maintain a clean coat overall. For long hair dogs we recommend brushing every day to avoid knots and matting. We have an in-depth discussion on puppy bathing routines here, check it out!

Ear Care

Your puppy’s ears should be clean and dry. If a puppy’s ears are not clean and dry, they may shake their head and scratch at their ears. Use a cotton swab to very carefully clean the outside areas of a puppy’s ear. Never attempt to clean the inner areas of your puppy’s ear and always check in with your vet if ear problems occur. For more information on puppy ear care, visit our article on How to Care For my Puppy’s Ears.

Medication

Never administer a human medication to a dog. Dogs should only ever be treated with medications prescribed and recommended by a trusted veterinarian. A puppy’s biology may react adversely to human medications and this can lead to serious implications.

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