What a joy a little pup brings to a home. But when choosing a new family member you must look beyond the wagging tail and frisky nature. Good health practices will ensure your new pet has a happy start and a long life in your family. So let’s look at puppy health.
When choosing a new pup there are a few important factors to consider:
- Your puppy should be plump but not fat with no bumps
- A potbelly on a pup could mean she has worms
- Umbilical hernias are fairly common – look out for a swelling around the belly button
- Check her over. Her eyes should be clear, her backside and ears clean, and her coat free of bald or red patches.
- Check that she responds to your claps or calls to ensure she isn’t deaf.
While any problems might not stop you from choosing that animal, it helps to know what issues (and therefore vet bills) you are in for.
Diseases that affect dogs can be serious and fatal, so vaccination is vital. Your pup will get her first vaccination at about eight weeks, followed up with another four weeks later. After this second vaccine you can take her out in public. She will then have another by about 16 weeks of age. The diseases she’ll be protected against include:
- Canine distemper – a serious and potential fatal virus that is highly contagious and affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal and central nervous systems.
- Kennel cough or parainfluenza virus – another highly contagious respiratory disease that can lead to pneumonia and serious immune issues, particularly in pups.
- Infectious canine hepatitis – a type of virus that is highly contagious and can cause, kidney, lung and eyes problems.
- Parvovirus – a potentially fatal infection that can come on rapidly and cause a deterioration of the immune system.
- Leptospirosis – a nasty infection that can spread throughout the entire body causing high temperatures, stiffness in the muscles, vomiting and diarrhoea.
- Coronavirus – a disease that affects the gastrointestinal system.
- Most dogs experience gum disease, but you can prevent this with a well-balanced diet, bones, teeth brushing and regular dental check-ups.
- It’s also important to look after your pup’s coat with regular brushing. Regular baths will keep your pup clean but don’t use a human shampoo on him.
- Keep an eye on his ears to make sure they are clean and dry. If he is shaking his head or scratching his ears, or you notice a smell or discharge from his ears, get him to the vet to check for possible problems.
- As a new pup owner you’ll also need to get on top of heartworm prevention. You can start your pup’s heartworm treatment from 12 weeks of age. From then your dog can have a regularly monthly treatment or an annual injection.
- Puppies should also be wormed every two weeks until they are 12 weeks of age and then every month until six months of age, then every three months.
- Flea control is also an important part of a dog owner’s life. All dogs will experience fleas, so regular preventative measures are the best way to keep fleas at bay. Monthly spot-on treatments are a good way to go.
It’s recommended you de-sex your dog at about four months of age. During this surgical procedure a female has her ovaries and uterus removed. In the male, the testes are removed. While de-sexing obviously reduces unwanted pregnancies, in females it also reduces the risk of mammary and ovarian tumours plus tumours of the uterus and cervix. In males, neutering reduces the risk of some diseases and tumours and prevents testicular cancer. It also stops the pets from roaming or fighting.