Puppies come in all shapes and sizes, and all temperaments. Some breeds have more specific needs than others. We are happy to provide advice about any aspect of dog care - please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions that are not covered in this information or during your first consultation.
Puppies are generally acquired at 6-8 weeks of age, and can come from a variety of sources. This can be a stressful time for some puppies depending on their nature and their previous lifestyle. We generally like to let puppies settle in to their new home for a few days before we first see them. We can begin vaccinations at 8 weeks of age in most circumstances, with a second vaccination 2-4 weeks later. However, they will not be fully protected by the vaccine for a week after the second injection. In the meantime, they should be kept away from busy dog areas and unknown dogs, but can happily socialise with known vaccinated dogs in enclosed areas.
Puppies are generally vaccinated against several potentially life-threatening diseases. We routinely vaccinate against:
- Parvovirus – a very contagious viral enteritis which can cause diarrhoea and death in young puppies
- Distemper – a severe viral disease which can cause fits or respiratory problems and often results in the death of the infected dog
- Infectious Hepatitis (Adenovirus) – a virus which can cause fatal liver disease in all dogs
- Leptospirosis – this virus can cause liver or kidney disease, and is potentially transmissible to humans
Annual re-vaccination is necessary for some of these diseases, as immunity is not life-long.
We can also vaccinate against kennel cough, which we recommend undertaking shortly before going into boarding kennels, and rabies for dogs being exported or travelling under the Pet Travel Scheme. Please ask for more details if either of these vaccines is of interest to you.
Fleas & Ticks
Nearly every animal will come across fleas from contact with other animals or wildlife. Flea infestations are much easier to prevent than treat and so regular treatment is advisable. This can be done with a collar, tablet or ‘spot-on’ products. Several products are now available, and this is best discussed with a vet or nurse who will be able to risk assess your pet’s exposure and advise accordingly.
Ticks can be a regular issue for some animals. They are generally found in coastal areas or well-protected inland areas as ticks do not like severe frosts or dry heat. Ticks rarely transmit severe diseases but local irritation can be a problem. We now have several products that can be used to minimise the chances of ticks affecting your dog. We can show you how to safely remove ticks which have attached to your dog.
All puppies are infected with worms from their mother. We recommend that they are wormed before weaning and regularly thereafter. Please ask about the specific recommendations for your pet as this will vary depending on lifestyle. Modern, safe, effective and convenient products are available from us to treat both round and tapeworms.
We generally recommend that most pets are better off being neutered at a young age. Males can be castrated from 6 months, or less if there are specific issues. We regularly see prostate disease in old, intact male dogs, as well as testicular tumours and other problems which can be prevented by early neutering. Females can be spayed at 6 months of age as long as they are showing no signs of coming into season, or 3 months after their season. Most bitches will cycle twice yearly throughout their life, and early neutering can give significant health benefits, reducing their chances of mammary tumour development as well as eliminating the risk of a life-threatening womb infection (pyometra).
It is a legal duty for all dogs to wear a collar bearing their owner’s name and address. Microchip identification is now a legal requirement in the UK and can help improve the chance of a lost pet being returned to its owner. This is a simple procedure, just like giving an injection, that can be undertaken in any consultation, at any age. Please ask for further details when making an appointment.
Regular and consistent exercise is important for all dogs. The amount of exercise appropriate for your dog will depend on its age and breed. More specifically, medium to large breed dogs should not be over-exercised or encouraged to repeatedly chase or fetch balls until they are mature. They have relatively soft bones at their joints and damage to these bones can lead to early-onset arthritis. The level of exercise and food should be adjusted so that the dog maintains an appropriate weight. Please note that the guidelines on many feeds are quite generous and many dogs need significantly less food than suggested on the pack. Our vets and nurses are always happy to give advice on the appropriate amount of exercise for your dog.
Pet Health Insurance
We would hope that you and your dog will have a long and healthy life together, but unfortunately many dogs will require veterinary attention for unforeseen problems at some point in their lives. Modern veterinary medicine can be expensive as we follow advances in human medicine. Specialist treatment can be particularly expensive - we regularly recommend courses of treatment that can cost several hundred pounds and sometimes will run into thousands. Insuring your pet at a young age, before the onset of problems, can help take away the worry of having to deal with veterinary bills whilst you are coping with an unwell pet. We are unable to recommend specific policies, and small print varies widely. Generally, the cost of the policy varies with the level of cover. Some policies will only pay out for one year on a single condition, whereas other polices will cover the condition for the life of the pet.