Village Vets Australia

If you’ve just gotten a new puppy or considering getting one - congratulations, you have just acquired a loyal friend for life! Here is some expert advice from the Village Vets to help your new friend settle in.

Most puppies are around 8 weeks of age when they come to their new family and leave their mother. This is a big change for a puppy and it is important to try and make their transition as smooth as possible. Bringing something with the scent of the puppy’s mum can help settle a new puppy.

There are lots of things that can be done to help transition your puppy in to it’s new environment – for example pheromone therapies and crate training – these can be discussed with your vet. It is important to ask what food was being fed so you can either continue feeding that or if not ask for a small amount of the food so you change them onto their new food over a few days.

Here is a check-list for what is needed on the first day you bring your puppy home:

  • A secure yard
  • Good quality puppy food
  • Food and water bowls
  • Bed
  • Toys (large enough that they can’t be swallowed – preferably indestructible)

Once your puppy is home and starting to settle in, it will soon be time for their first trip to the vets. This is an opportunity for you to ask any questions about your new puppy and the vet will go through information about vaccinations, mircochipping, worming, parasites and socialisation. 

It is a good idea to have your puppy checked-over by your vet as soon as possible and not wait until the next vaccination is due. This way any problems can be diagnosed early and corrective action taken if necessary.

1. Vaccinations: help provide protection from four of the main diseases that could harm your puppy. These include Canine Distemper Virus, Infectious Canine Hepatitis, Canine Parvovirus and Canine Cough (Kennel Cough). Puppies require either 2 or 3 vaccinations approximately 1 month apart. The vaccination schedule will be determined by whether the dog was vaccinated by the breeder and what they had and when it was done. The puppy should come with a vaccination certificate and the vet will be able to interpret it for you and come up with a plan in consultation with you.

2. Heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) is a parasitic roundworm spread by mosquitoes which infects the hearts of dogs and cats. Heartworm is a potentially deadly disease which can be easily prevented by a number of products. Heartworm is distinct and different to intestinal worms.

3. Intestinal worms can affect your puppy’s stomach and bowel and you and your family as some worms can cause problems for humans! Puppies are particularly susceptible to intestinal worms, so you should worm your puppy regularly. It is important to use an intestinal wormer that treats all intestinal worms, including tapeworm. It is also important to maintain good hygiene yourself when handling your puppy so make sure you wash your hands prior to eating and don’t kiss or allow the puppy to lick your face.

4. Fleas can cause discomfort and illness. They can be treated with a number of different products which include top spots, sprays or tablets as well as treatments for their environment. Most products are safe for use from 8 weeks of age however check with your vet for the most effective product that will tie in with a parasite management program.

5. Ticks: If you live on or near the eastern coastline of Australia this puts your puppy at risk from the paralysis tick (Ixodes holocyclus). These ticks can cause a paralysis condition which can be potentially fatal. Some flea products have a dual action against ticks however they need to be applied fortnightly to prevent paralysis tick, not monthly to prevent fleas. Again check with your vet.

6. Microchipping is a permanent means of identification of your puppy. It is vital for identifying and returning your puppy to you, should he or she go missing. It is illegal not to microchip and register your dog in NSW and this must be done by 12 weeks or when a dog changes ownership. By law your puppy should be microchipped by the time you acquire him or her. You will need to complete a change of owner form to change the registration from the breeders name into your name. This is really important to do early and keep these details up to date so your pet can be returned to you if it goes missing.

7. Socialisation of your puppy is one of the most important early building blocks in your puppy’s education! It is generally considered that the imprinting window for dogs occurs at 8-16 weeks of age hence the need to engage in basic training at this time. At Puppy Preschool your puppy is given the opportunity to socialise with other puppies of a similar age, will learn basic commands such as sit, stay and come and provide you with helpful tips and information. It is important that your puppy has had 2 vaccinations prior to mingling with other puppies and dogs. Again check with your vet for advice.

8. Pet insurance works in a similar way to private health insurance for people. There are many different options to suit your need and budget, so we recommend comparing insurance companies and policies. As with human private health insurance, it is important to read your policy carefully to make sure that you are fully aware of what your policy will cover.

9. Toys: Puppies use their mouths to investigate and learn and it is a very powerful tactile sense, much like human babies. If items of value are left on the floor you can expect them to be chewed. It is best to provide alternate toys for your puppy to play with, mouth and chew. Avoid toys that resemble items that you don’t want chewed i.e. if you give him/her an old shoe, don’t be surprised when he chews your Prada pumps!

There is a lot to learn about raising a new puppy and there is a lot of information out there on how to do it. Make sure that you check the source of the information and if confused discuss it with your vet. Your vet will be able to provide unbiased and educated advice that will stand you in good stead. Congratulations again and enjoy the journey!

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