Introducing a new puppy into the household can be an exciting, if not slightly daunting and stressful time for all involved, including the puppy! As with people, all puppies have different personalities, and so some will settle in their new home quicker than others. It’s worth bearing in mind that no matter how happy and confident your new puppy seems, moving onto a new environment is pretty unnerving at only 8 weeks of age! Your puppy will just have become accustomed to their surroundings, mother and siblings, got used to a new solid diet and then suddenly their whole world is changed! This is particularly important to remember when considering your puppy’s immune system and diet, and so following these guidelines will help your puppy settle and adapt into their new home.
Before bringing your new puppy home it is useful to find out what vaccinations, worming and flea treatment your puppy has had and when.
It is important to let your new puppy settle in their new home for 5 - 7 days before they are given their vaccinations. This is to allow their immune system to get over the stress of moving home, and make sure that they aren’t harbouring any illness which could make the vaccine less effective.
- The first vaccination can be given from 8 weeks old
- The second vaccination is given 2 - 4 weeks later
- A third vaccination at 16 - 20 weeks is now recommended in all puppies whose second vaccination was given earlier than 12 weeks of age. This is to allow for those puppies that still have working maternal antibodies (antibodies from the mother which can prevent the vaccinations from working) at the time their second vaccination is given.
All puppies should be vaccinated against distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, parainfluenza and leptospirosis. Yearly booster vaccinations are required every 12 months. Dogs in contact with larger groups of dogs ie training or puppy classes or kennels, should also be given the intranasal kennel cough vaccination. Rabies vaccination is another option if you are taking your dog abroad.
Regular worming is recommended as ova and larvae are transmitted by milk and direct contact with the mother and litter mates. Worms can be picked up from the environment, from scavenging or eating raw meat and they can also get worms if they have fleas. Worms are especially a risk if you have young children or older people living with you. Puppies can be wormed from 2 weeks of age, we recommend the following;
- Under 12 weeks old: ever 2 weeks
- 12 weeks - 6 months old: every month
- Over 6 months : every 3 months
FLEAS AND TICKS
Fleas and ticks are a common problem in dogs, especially in the warmer months. Both parasites are blood sucking and are able to transmit a variety of diseases. In large numbers fleas can cause anaemia in puppies. We recommend regular treatment of your dog and stock a variety of veterinary only products to combat the problem.
Dogs, and bitches, can be neutered from as early as 6 months of age. From a medical point of view, we would advise that all dogs should be neutered if they’re not being bred from. As well as preventing unwanted pregnancies, neutering decreases, or in some cases totally eliminates the risk of many diseases related to the genital tract, as well as diseases influenced by sex hormones. This includes life threatening conditions such as diabetes, prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate in male dogs), pyometra (infected uterus) and mammary / testicular tumours.
From 6th April 2016 it will be a legal requirement for all dogs to be microchipped form 8 weeks of age, so in the main, this should be before our puppy leaves the breeder.
The microchip is placed underneath the skin between the shoulder blades and is detected by a scanner. The microchip carries a code which is unique for each dog. All vets, dog wardens, the police and the RSPCA carry a scanner and so if your dog goes missing you can be quickly and easily reunited.
We would recommend that all dogs are insured as at some stage in your dog’s life they are likely to require further and more intensive treatment, insurance is a great way to make sure you don’t need to worry about being able to provide your dog with the best possible treatment. Treatment can become very costly, and span over the rest of your dog’s life. Insurance also provides 3rd party cover should you ever need this. There are many different insurance companies, offering various levels of cover. We would recommend that you look for a policy which provides “lifelong cover”. Make sure you look carefully at the excess, level of cover for each condition, and total level of cover each insurance year along with exclusions before you get into an insurance policy, as often once you have made a claim, you will find it harder to change insurance companies in the future.
Nutritional requirements vary with age, so you need to make sure your puppy is fed on an appropriate age related diet. Special diets for puppies are available which should be fed up to 12 - 18 months of age, this is breed and size dependant. Afterwards a junior or adult diet should be fed. A complete diet is recommended for all life stages and no additional nutrients or supplements should be necessary if a high quality complete diet is fed.
Puppies should be fed 4 times a day up until 4 or 5 months of age. When they reach 6 months you can reduce the feeds gradually to once or twice a day.
It is important to try not to make sudden changes to your puppy’s diet, especially in the first few weeks, as this can cause upset guts. In most cases we would recommend that you carry on feeding your puppy on the diet the breeder has been giving them for the first week. If you then wish to change your puppy’s diet, you should do so over a period of 3 - 5 days.
We look forward to meeting you an our new puppy, if you require any further advice or information, please don’t hesitate to contact the surgery for a chat with one of our vets or nurses.