Puppy Care Basics
Congratulations on your new puppy While new puppy ownership is a whole lot of fun, there are a few key things you'll need to make sure your puppy has the best start in life. We've collated 9 key points to help make things nice and clear for any new puppy owner!
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Intestinal worming should be done from 4 weeks of age. The breeder, shelter, or pet store should have started worming prior to you adopting your pooch. We typically recommend Drontal for young puppies.
Heartworm prevention needs to be maintained for life. You can either choose to get a heartworm injection at your vet (given at 12 weeks, 6 months of age, and then annually), or you can simply give a monthly product yourself at home. Monthly products usually combine heartworm with intestinal worming, and some even combine flea and tick treatments in the mix too!
As there are many options and loads of different combinations it may be best to have a chat with your vet or one of our Pet Circle vets about which products to use on your pet. We also have a comprehensive guide with a complete comparison table: Which Flea and Worming Product Do I Need?
Flea and tick prevention is safe to start around 6-9 weeks of age - just check the product label. As previously discussed above, you can combine flea and tick protection with worming, or you might like to give two separate products (this can work well if you've chosen to get the heartworm injection!)
Is flea and tick prevention needed all year? - We recommend having a chat to your vet about what is required in your area. Some parts of Australia are particularly tick-prone and require diligent tick prevention all year round. On the other hand, some parts of the country don't have ticks at all.
Products that combine flea and tick prevention and are safe for puppies include Nexgard (safe from 8 weeks), Bravecto (safe from 8 weeks), Simparica (safe from 8 weeks) and Seresto (safe from 7 weeks).
Your puppy should already be microchipped before you adopt them. In fact, most states require all pets to be microchipped prior to rehoming by law. If you aren't sure whether your pet is microchipped, your vet will be able to advise you of what your puppy needs.
What is a microchip? In Australia, microchips are used for lifelong identification. The microchip is a small metal chip the size of a grain of rice. It gets inserted under the skin via a needle, in the area between the shoulder blades or lower neck. (And before you ask - no, there's no such thing as a microchip that goes into your dog's ear. This is a common misconception, as desexing tattoos are placed in the flap of the ear and some pet owners confuse the two). The microchip only contains one piece of information - a 15 digit number. This number gets recorded into a central database, where your contact details are then stored (unfortunately there are a few databases in Australia, but your vet should be able to identify which one your pet is registered with). Microchips can be scanned with a special hand-held device at any vet clinic, pound, or shelter.
Puppy Preschool and Obedience Training can be a very important aspect for socialising and training your puppy. Together you will learn appropriate skills and cover all the basics from toilet training to handling skills. It's also a great way to bond with your puppy!
It is very important that you and your pup undergo some form of socialisation and training. You both have to learn what to do - and what NOT to do! This can be at puppy preschool, handling/obedience classes or even sporting classes like agility. Exercise and socialising are lifelong ventures. Puppies learn their social skills by 14 weeks of age therefore it is important to be involved and help your pup to reach their full potential.
Dogs should be desexed to avoid unwanted behavioural issues, and many health problems. The age at which desexing occurs differs depending on who you speak to, and there is no wrong opinion. Some vets like to desex at 4 months, but other vets recommend desexing around 6 months of age. In fast-growing large or giant breed puppies, it can be beneficial to wait until they've stopped growing (at around 18 months) before desexing, to avoid skeletal growth abnormalities. Your vet will check your pet over and give you their recommendation based on your pet.
Grooming is another very important aspect of puppy development for breeds with medium to long coats. Always start slowly and from a young age. Brushing their coats regularly will ensure they are used to handling and can be a great way to get close to your pet. Professional grooming is required for some breeds such as Poodles.
Puppy food should be fed to your puppy until they've reached their adult size. For a small breed dog, this generally occurs at 12 months of age. While medium to large dogs can grow until 12-18 months, and giant breeds up until 2 years of age. Please consult with your vet prior to changing diets.
Premium puppy diets are nutritionally balanced and don't require supplementation. Premium brands include Advance, Eukanuba, Hills Science Diet, and Royal Canin. If you're after a premium, natural brand which is made in Australia, we recommend Black Hawk, Ivory Coat, Vetalogica, or Savourlife.
Typical vaccination regimes for puppies involve 3 vaccinations spaced approximately 4 weeks apart. These usually occur at 6-8 weeks of age, 12 weeks of age, and 16 weeks of age. Consult with your vet for further information, and what vaccinations are appropriate for your puppy.