Caring for your puppy
The ideal basis of of the diet should be on commercial dry food, rounded out with raw bones (eg, mutton flaps, brisket bones, vertebrae, pelvis). Our favourite is the long cut sheep neck. Table leftovers may be added; however, avoid an excess of carbohydrate or starch (rice, pasta, or potatoes). We recommend Royal Canin dry until desexing, and then change to the "Neutered" Junior range for the correct breed size as Royal Canin recognise that desexed pets tend to need less calories to maintain weight than non-desexed dogs. Progress to "Neutered Adult" once growth is complete. Avoid dense hard bones such as the leg bones of sheep, pig or cattle (shanks and cow femurs split longitudinally) as they may crack teeth. Calcium supplementation is not required in any breed if the diet is balanced.
Feeding raw, meaty bones (eg long cut lamb necks) will ensure dental calculus and gum disease is minimised. This is especially important in small breed dogs. Please avoid dry food marketed as "Small Breed Dry", as this food is more swallowed whole than chewed. Royal Canin is recommended as it has a shape and content which is optimal for calculus prevention. Some pups will not shed their temporary canine teeth by 5-7 months of age & the permanent teeth will emerge adjacent to them. Please phone us if you think this has occurred, and if unsure please let one of our vets or nurses check it early rather than later. Some dogs will require ultrasonic scaling and polishing under anaesthesia on a regular basis to prevent periodontal disease and eventual tooth loss.
Erina Hts Vet Hospital follows the World Small Animal Veterinary Association guidelines (see www.wsava.org for full details) with expert advice on protocols based on the latest research. Pups are now vaccinated at 6-9wks, and 10-14 wks with the core vaccine; & then at 16-18 wks with the parvovirus vaccine. And adult dogs are vaccinated every three years after 15 months for the core diseases (distemper, hepatitis & parvovirus) and annually for non-core diseases (Canine Cough comprising of parainfluenza & bordatella). The recent change in puppy vaccination protocol is the trade-off of having a more effective parvovirus vaccine. In short, stronger levels of bitch derived protective antibody has meant a later cutoff time for the final puppy parvo vaccine at 16-18weeks. Canine Cough (formerly termed Kennel Cough) is mandatory if planning to board your dog but it is a non-fatal disease.
It is now illegal to own an unregistered and unmicrochipped dog. Your puppy should be microchipped by the person who gave/sold it to you. If this has not been done, let us know so we can perform this minor procedure. Council registration (lifetime) is required from six months of age, and is less costly if your dog is desexed. We can provide a desex certificate for presentation to council prior to registration once your dog is desexed. If delaying desexing (see reasons below) then this conflict with local council age limits may mean paying the higher lifetime registration fee!
Puppies should be wormed to prevent intestinal worm infestation every 2 weeks, until 12 weeks of age. You should continue this treatment monthly until 6 months & then every 3 months for an adult dog if using a pure intestinal wormer. If using a combination intestinal wormer/heartworm drug such as Interceptor or Milbemax, then this is dosed monthly long term.
This is required from three months of age. There are monthly or yearly treatments available.). Combination products (eg. Interceptor and Milbemax) are very convenient as they cover intestinal worms as well as heartworm. For those not keen on oral medications there is a topical (applied as a small volume of liquid to skin over the upper neck region) monthly combination available called Revolution which kills fleas and provides heartworm prevention. For those of us who are forgetful (and that probably applies to most of us) an annual heartworm injection is available, and is usually begun at six months of age (called Proheart SR-12).
A severe infestation can KILL a pup purely through blood loss. Best products for flea control on the dog are now oral chews or tablets with 30 day duration after a single dose (Comfortis). It is rapid acting and safe and useful in dogs requiring frequent bathing or those swimming often. Combination flea and tick tablets/chews (Nexgard or Bravecto) are recommended if ticks are also a threat. It is important to understand that no flea product will be effective if the environment is also infested. This includes both the house and the yard and these may need to be treated separately, with products designed to kill the immature flea stages (eggs, larvae, and pupae) eg Coopex.
Generally, most tick problems occur from July to January. No method of tick prevention is 100% effective so you must search your dog daily during the tick season. Current best recommendations are Bravecto or Nexgard as tab/chew presentation. Collars such as Preventic or Scalibor are useful, but these lose effectiveness if the dog swims or is bathed frequently. Permoxin spray/rinse used weekly kills fleas and ticks and is economical. Advantix applied as a "spot-on" fortnightly is available for hard to tab dose patients.
At EHVH we have reviewed our advice on the recommended age of desexing in dogs after evidence of increased risk of orthopaedic disease (cruciate disease & developmental bone disease) and soft tissue tumours in those desexed before maturity. The extra 3-6 months delay beyond the previously recommended age of 6 months may make a difference for your pet. With females, there is always the risk of pregnancy, so you as the owner need to make the decision on the optimal desex age based on your individual circumstances.
All male & female desex surgeries include intravenous fluid & IV catheters, individual sterile packeted sutures, intradermal (or hidden) skin sutures which means no removing of sutures two weeks after the operation & no visible sutures for your pet to chew, minimising complications; pre & post op narcotic analgesia and post op NSAID type analgesia at home, along with standard anaesthestic monitoring expected of our practice.
A reversible under-skin implant (Suprelorin) lasting six months is an option for those undecided about breeding into the future. Desexing males reduces the problems of aggression to other dogs (and perhaps people), mounting behaviour and roaming, and medically it benefits the dog by reducing prostatic disease seen in older males.
Many companies now offer health insurance for pets. This can help you cover the cost of medical bills. Pets statistically are afflicted by illness and injury more frequently than their owners. It makes sense to plan for this risk. Check our links for insurance contacts.