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 get in order to make sure your puppy has the best start in life. We've collated 10 key points to help make things nice and clear for any new puppy owner!
1. Intestinal Worming
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. I typically recommend Drontal for young puppies.
2. Heartworm Prevention
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!
Milbemax and Interceptor are great worming products which combine intestinal worming with heartworm. If you want to combine with flea treatment, some great puppy products include Advocate, Revolution, or Sentinel. Finally, if you want to combine flea, worming and heartworm as well as tick protection, take a look at Nexgard Spectra.
As there are many options and loads of different combinations it may be best to have a thorough chat with your vet about which products to use on your pet.
3. Flea and tick prevention
Flea and/or tick prevention is safe to start around 6-9 weeks of age (just check the product!). 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.
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. 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 12 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.
If you aren't sure whether your pet is microchipped, your vet will be able to advise you of what your puppy needs.
Don't forget - your dog's microchip is for life. If you change phone number, address, or email, always remember to update the database! If your pet is ever lost, this may be the only means of getting them safely back to you!
5. Puppy School
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 is a great way to bond with your pet.
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 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 its 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. Some people like to wait until after their pet's puberty has commenced. 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 may be required in some breeds.
8. Puppy food
Puppy food should be fed to a small dog until 12 months of age as this is when they should reach their adult size and transition to an appropriate diet. 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 when changing diets.
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 area.
Dr Carla is one of our resident veterinarians. With experience in general veterinary practices, Carla has a special passion for pet nutrition, feline medicine, and exotic pets. When she isn't talking pet care at Pet Circle, she enjoys plays mum to one very smoochy, cross-eyed ragdoll cat named Smudge.
Carla suggests to read:
How to choose a toy for your puppy ▶
Teaching your puppy to walk on a lead ▶
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