Link to downloadable leaflet
VACCINATIONS: since vaccination started, the prevalence of infectious diseases in dogs has reduced, which shows that vaccination programmes are working. However, vaccination is still very important to protect your puppy and dogs against potentially fatal parvo virus and leptospirosis, to name just two.
For puppies (or adult dogs whose vaccination status has lapsed), vaccination can start as early as 8 weeks old and requires a second vaccination 2 – 4 weeks later. Here at Twickenham Veterinary Surgery, we prefer to vaccinate closer to 12 weeks than 10, as we feel that the immune system shows a stronger response. Boosters are then required annually to maintain the immunity: some of the diseases only need vaccinating against every 2 -3 years and others, such as leptospirosis, require annual boosters: here at Twickenham Veterinary Surgery, we provide boosters according to needs.
WORMING: pregnant bitches transmit worms to the pups via the placenta and then, once born, through the milk. Worm burdens in pups can therefore depend on the mother’s worming schedule and living conditions. Worms can cause intestinal blockage and can actually lead to death in pups that have not received adequate worming treatments. We recommend worming pups every 2 weeks with Panacur, Milbemax or Drontal until 12 weeks of age and then every month thereafter. (NB: the British Small Animal Veterinary Association recommends monthly worming for adult dogs due to Toxocara egg levels in the environment.)
FLEA CONTROL: puppies are not immune to fleas and may have picked up some unwelcome visitors from their mother or from the environment. It is important to use a flea treatment that not only works, but is safe for your puppy: we can discuss the best flea treatment for your puppy and recommend an ongoing prevention regime to protect him or her against fleas. If the flea burden is large, we may recommend treating the environment as well. As fleas often carry worm eggs, we are likely also to recommend worming at the same time as flea treatment.
MICROCHIP: here at Twickenham Veterinary Surgery, we recommend that all dogs are microchipped. This involves implanting a small silicone chip as small as a grain of rice under the skin at the back of the neck. This chip contains a number that can be read by a special scanner, and when it is implanted we will take all your contact details, which get sent to a central database: if your dog goes missing and is handed in to a vets or rescue centre, they will be able to contact you and reunite you with your dog. Microchipping is also the first step towards getting your dog on the Pets Passport Scheme (link to PETS Travel Scheme section). The microchip can be implanted at any time, but it is best to do it with the second vaccination (before your puppy goes out for proper walks). The chip is for life and does not need to be repeated, but if you move, you must inform the microchip people of your new address and contact details, otherwise you won’t be able to be contacted if your dog goes missing.
DIET: getting your puppy started on a good, balanced puppy food means that you will be getting him or her off to a flying start nutritionally speaking! We recommend the Royal Canin food range which has been designed to take into account the nutritional needs of all different shapes and sizes of dogs at the different stages of their lives. Some breeds have specific diets designed just for them and are aimed towards preventing common problems in the breed. The Royal Canin range is quite complicated, so please do not hesitate to ask us about the best diet for your puppy. It is important when introducing a new diet to your puppy, to do it gradually, to avoid any tummy upsets: please ask us for advice if you are not sure how to do this.
NEUTERING: if you are not intending to breed from your new puppy when he or she becomes an adult, then neutering your pet would be advisable. Spaying your female will have medical benefits: it can prevent mammary tumours later in life, pyometra (a potentially life-threatening infection of the womb), ovarian and uterine cancer. It will also stop her from “coming into heat” every 6 months, where it is usual for bitches to spot blood from the vulva for 7 – 10 days.
For male dogs, castration prevents testicular cancer, reduces the incidence of prostatic disease, anal tumours and male dominant testosterone fuelled behaviour!
Your pet will need to be starved overnight, then will spend the day at the surgery: they will receive a pre-med and painkilling injections before having the operation and should be ready to come home the same afternoon. Every procedure carries a very small risk which we can discuss at your pet’s vaccination or before the operation. We recommend neutering from 5 months of age.
SOCIALISATION: the most susceptible time in a puppy’s life to experience and react to situations is between 7 – 12 weeks of age: this is called the socialisation period. It is a great time to socialise your pup with other dogs, but this needs to be in safe environments, not on the streets or in parks, but in gardens, or friend’s houses who have fully vaccinated sociable dogs. Puppy parties and training classes are ideal and will mostly take your puppy after the first vaccination: your puppy will become well socialised and you may pick up some useful pointers on training! Socialisation is an incredibly important part of your puppy’s life: it will give him or her the best chance of becoming a socially balanced adult. It is also important to get your puppy used to loud noises (such as vacuum cleaners, loud bangs), the noise of traffic (you can achieve this by carrying your puppy down busy roads), children playing, and general household noises. It is also essential to get your puppy used to being handled and checked over: getting them used to having their mouth opened, ears checked and feet checked will enable you to do these things later in life and will make veterinary checks less stressful in the future: this can be incorporated into play time and can strengthen the bond between you and your puppy.
EXERCISE: the amount of exercise your puppy needs is a controversial subject. It is best to instigate a regular and consistent exercise regime for your puppy, rather than providing the occasional long walk. It is best to avoid ‘high impact’ exercises whilst your puppy is growing (such as chasing balls and Frisbees) as this can put a lot of pressure on the growing joints.
INSURANCE: this is very much an individual choice: it depends on what you want from your policy and what level of cover you require. Lifelong policies are the best as they cover your dog for life rather than for a specified period or up to a certain sum. We have a selection of insurance leaflets at the surgery and are happy to advise you, but the final choice is yours: just remember: always read the small print!
Enjoy your puppy! This is a wonderful time to share with your puppy and keeping your pup happy and healthy is very rewarding as an owner! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.