How can I give my new puppy the best start in life?
No bones about it, our dogs have certainly helped our mental and physical health during the last year so the recent increase in puppy ownership comes as no surprise! An estimated 3.2 million houses in the UK acquired a pet since the pandemic began. However, a recent study by the Kennel Club has shown that 25% of new owners admit to buying a puppy during the COVID-19 pandemic with little research.
We are in the process of setting up our KISS DogCare preventative health regime (Keep it Super Simple) By monitoring your pet’s health at home you are more likely to notice any changes quickly, you are then able to consult your veterinarian for advice earlier and starting any treatment sooner.
The basic idea is to follow the easily remembered steps of W.E.T.
Weigh – monthly weight check to note any unexpected changes.
Examine – nose to tail check of eyes/nose/ears, any sore skin, swollen or painful areas
Teeth – having a gentle check for any sore looking gums, teeth or oral lumps.
For new or inexperienced puppy owners the internet can be a minefield when it comes to good advice. Luckily, we are here to help with over forty years of veterinary experience as well as raising many puppies ourselves. We have compiled a go-to guide including everything a growing puppy needs.
Why do we vaccinate puppies?
Vaccination is essential to prevent your puppy from contracting infectious diseases such as parvovirus, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, kennel cough and distemper. These diseases can not only be very unpleasant for a young puppy they can even be fatal. Having treated unvaccinated puppies suffering from such diseases in the past, this is potentially the most important step you can take in their preventative health care.
Puppies generally receive a course of two vaccinations with 2-4 weeks in between. Your veterinarian will advise you on the best regime for your puppy. Remember, your puppy is not fully protected until a week after their second vaccination so should not be walking on pavements or mixing with other dogs until then. Booster vaccinations are needed each year thereafter.
Parvovirus outbreaks are still seen today even though we can help prevent such a terrible disease with vaccination. Here is an article showing a current surge in Glasgow.
Why are pet microchips important?
A microchip is around the size of a grain of rice and is implanted under the skin around the scruff area using a special implanter. The chip holds a 15 digit number unique to your pet, by entering this number into a national database the linked details of the owner can be traced.
If your pet becomes lost this provides a method of identifying the owner and reuniting the pet. All veterinary clinics and most rescue centres and wardens will own a microchip handheld scanner. When passed over the pet’s shoulders this brings up the chip number on a digital display.
In England and Wales, it is now a legal requirement for all dogs over the age of eight weeks to be microchipped. Generally, your puppy should have been microchipped while still in the care of the breeder and their details entirely onto the database. Some exceptions may apply but these will be certified in writing by a veterinarian. Remember to contact the database and add your details when you bring your puppy home and keep them updated with any change of address or phone number.
This fantastic story in the news recently tells of how Jess a missing cat has been reunited with his owner after 14 years thanks to his microchip. Just incredible, and we all love a happy ending!
How do I prevent worm and flea infestations?
Parasite prevention is not only important to your puppies health but also to your families. Some intestinal worms are zoonotic, meaning they can also spread disease to humans including loss of sight in children. Our native tick population can also carry disease-causing organisms.
Usually, your puppy will have already received a wormer while with the breeder at 2,5 and 8 weeks of age and will require monthly worming until six months of age.
Your vet will be able to provide a safe worm and flea prevention regime to fit your puppies lifestyle and risks. There is an abundance of products available including liquids, granules, tablets and spot-on. Some practices may also offer a pay monthly plan to spread the cost, as we do in our cat only clinic.
What about insurance?
You would not dream of owning a home or a car without insurance. More often than not the same is now true of pet ownership. You are more likely to claim on your pet insurance than your car or home insurance. Veterinary bills for treatment following an accident or illness can escalate quickly, especially for life long conditions such as diabetes or skin disease. According to the Statistica research department, the average UK pet insurance claim is £822. This can lead to heartbreaking decisions for some owners. Choosing a good level of life long insurance cover is paramount and insuring any pet before any pre-existing condition avoids exemptions on your policy. Some breeders will offer a 4-week cover note when collecting your puppy. Many reputable companies are offering a great level of cover for very little per month but do your research! But don’t be afraid to ask questions. Are there any limits within the veterinary fees covered? Will my premium increase if I make a claim or as my pet gets older? Do you only allow me to see named specialist vets if required? Does my policy cover the cost of dental work and what is excluded? Some policies request a dental check noted on your pets medical records at least yearly. Make sure to read those terms and conditions.
What should I feed my puppy and how often?
As you have probably noticed your puppy is growing at a great rate of knots, keeping those tummies full is no mean feat. We have to remember that they are growing, they need fuel but also only have a small stomach so meals should be shared into 3-4 smaller meals a day. Taking care not to feed too close to an exercise session to avoid intestinal upsets.
You can plot your puppies weight on this handy puppy weight chart produced by Waltham. Remember your clinics veterinary nurse will always be happy to offer advice or weigh your puppy for you.
Choose a high-quality complete puppy food, some brands have a great range of breed or lifestyle and size-specific wet or dry diets. If feeding dry food it is especially important to keep your water bowl topped up too (tinned food is 80% water) Recommended quantities are usually on the label and should be followed to avoid under/overfeeding.
Our slow feed puzzle bowls are a great way to entertain puppies and also slow down those who tend to inhale their food in ten seconds flat!
Follow this link for our slow feed bowls
Socialisation and training
Currently, COVID restrictions mean we are having to take a different approach when it comes to socialising and training our young puppies. There are still many ways we can help them safely adjust to the outside world.
Take a look at this great article on socialisation by Royal Canin.
Life after lockdown
According to the Kennel Club, one in three owners who purchased or adopted a puppy during lockdown had not made a long term plan for when life returns to normal. With this in mind, they are promoting a #BePuppywise campaign to promote responsible ownership.
More detailed information can be found here.
Remember, your new puppy is a lifelong commitment. Keeping on top of preventative care routines and contacting your veterinarian or veterinary nurse when you are concerned will go a long way to providing a great home for your pet.
We love sharing your pet’s stories via our social media pages. Why not send us a photo or short video of your puppies adventures? You can find us on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
What else can I do for my growing puppy?
Register your puppy with your veterinarian before you need them and keep the daytime and emergency number saved in your phone.
As part of KISS DogCare and WETS (weigh, exam and teeth), we are very keen to promote dental health in our pets including daily brushing. Take a look at last months dental awareness blog
So if all you remember is WETS it is a start, plus get vaccinated and insured and ideally dewormed and treat for fleas!