Puppy Care



Getting a new puppy is an exciting time for all family members, both two and four legged! The following information contains some helpful hints about how to make this process as comfortable and easy for all involved. If you have any questions, you are welcome to contact the staff members at our vet hospital who will be happy to assist with all your queries. 

Preparing for Puppy's Arrival

Your puppy should have a comfortable bed or mat, to provide personal space and a safe haven. Crate training can also be used, to provide a safe area when the puppy is unsupervised and help with house training.

A new puppy might cry at night initially, settle the puppy by providing a warm bed, or you can place the puppy to sleep in a basket, crate or box. Place them to sleep where they are always going to sleep. Avoid taking your puppy to your bed even if it is just for the night, as this will give mixed messages to them about their allowed space. A warm rolled towel or a source of warmth such as ‘snuggle safe’ placed next to the puppy may add some comfort, mainly when the bed seems so big while the puppy is little. A synthetic pheromone analogue diffuser, which can be supplied by our vet hospital, placed near the bed can also help puppies settle.

Puppy proof the house to provide your puppy with a secure and safe environment by storing all chemicals and breakable items out of reach. It is also advisable to hide or cover any electrical cords. Kid’s toys may have small parts that can be swallowed by a puppy so they should also be kept off the floor. Outside the house, don't forget that garden chemicals such as snail bait can cause life threatening toxicity to dogs. Also keep your puppy away from the pool area.

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Chewing and Biting

Your puppy will need some toys. Puppies need to chew, and to prevent damage to shoes, furniture and other items in the house, it is important to provide lots of safe and size appropriate chew toys (that can not be swallowed). Changing toys daily helps to maintain interest.

At play time, any interactive fun should stop if the puppy bites, chews or mouths you. If your puppy does bite, walk away and ignore them. The puppy will learn that if they want to continue to play, they must control their bite. It is important not to punish your puppy, as this can make things worse causing some puppies to become hand shy, while with others it can promote aggression.

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All puppies need vaccination against serious and potentially fatal diseases such as Distemper, Parvovirus, Hepatitis, and Canine Cough. Immunizations should start at around 6-8 weeks of age when maternal antibody levels have dropped. Second and third booster injections are given 4 weeks apart. Boroondara Park Animal Hospital uses only premium vaccination brands, which provide longer immunity making the 3rd booster unnecessary for most puppies. The vet will discuss the best vaccination program that suits your puppy at the initial check up.

It is important to know that puppies are not fully protected against these diseases until 2 weeks after the last vaccination is given.

Following all puppy vaccinations, the next booster will be due 12 months after the last given dose.

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Generally, puppies are more susceptible to intestinal worm infestation than adult dogs, therefore regular and frequent worming is recommended to keep their good health. Worming is recommended every 2 weeks until 12 weeks of age then monthly up to 6 months of age, then every 3 months for life.

Puppies should be wormed according to their weight. So as they grow in the blink of an eye, regular visits to the scales are recommended for corrected dosage.

Our vet hospital recommends allwormers such as Drontal, Milbemax and Endogard that kill all intestinal worms including roundworm, hookworm, tapeworm and whipworm. Supermarket brands should be used with care as they may not cover all worms.

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Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitos, which implants the immature heartworm under the skin, and will then ultimately mature and obstruct the blood flow in the heart. The condition not only causes great suffering for the dog but can also be fatal.

There are very safe products for prevention of heartworm infestation such Advocate, Proheart, and Interceptor among others. Some products may also be combined with flea control. The vet will discuss and recommend the most suitable prevention product for your puppy.

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Flea Control

Flea control should start as soon as your puppy arrives to prevent any existing fleas from growing into a large infestation.

Flea treatment should continue all-year round because fleas can be active in all seasons, and most commonly pets catch fleas from the environment. Fleas rarely jump from pet to pet.

Effective products include Frontline and Advantage. As mentioned above some products will also include heartworm prevention, making regular parasite control much easier.

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The importance of adequate puppy nutrition can not be overemphasized, and premium dry commercial diet will provide your puppy with all nutritional needs. Puppy or growth formula is generally recommended until 12 months of age. Home made food lacks nutritional balance for dogs and should be kept to a minimum if at all. Premium pet food companies have large research departments dedicated to developing the best diets for pets. Even though these diets are more expensive, less food is required for the same caloric intake, so the cost is not as significant considering your puppy will be fed less amount per meal. As a bonus, there will be less faeces, as premium diets are highly digestible. One of our staff will advise on suitable options for your puppy’s nutrition.

The frequency of feeding changes as the puppy grows. Generally they can be fed around 3-4 times a day until 12 weeks of age, then reduced to 2 meals a day until 6 months of age. Feeding time should be around 15-30 minutes, if your puppy is not inclined to eat, then remove the food, and try again the next meal.

The amount of food to be given a day can vary with different brands, so following the recommended amount per body weight on the back of the pack may be a good start. Some puppies may need more or less than the recommended daily amount. The daily intake will also change often as your puppy grows.

Fresh raw bones can help exercise puppy’s jaws and keep teeth clean. Raw chicken necks can be a good start for puppies. Large marrow bones should be avoided as it can be too hard and cause damage to puppy teeth. Marrow bones should be only given to puppies when they have complete permanent dentition. Other bones to avoid include T bones and lamb chops. Cutting the bone in half along it's length should also be avoided as the puppy can eat the marrow which is high in fat. Cooked bones should never be given to a puppy or adult dog as it can splinter and cause serious problems to the gastrointestinal tract. Feeding raw bones has many benefits, but it is not free of risks, which include tooth fracture with inappropriate bones. Always supervise chew time and throw away bones that have become small enough to be swallowed.

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Identification and Registration

Microchipping is a legal requirement for registration of all puppies in Victoria. Local council registration is required at 3 months of age. For more information please visit City of Boroondara or City of Whitehorse website.

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House Training

First recommendation is to be patient. Puppies may not develop bladder control until 20 or more weeks of age. They tend to develop preferences for toileting in particular surfaces at around 7-8 weeks of age so take your puppy to the surface you want them to use later.

Your puppy will need to empty bladder and bowels after each snooze, meals, and after playing. So take your puppy outside at these times, every few hours, or whenever he or she starts to circle or sniff.

Take the puppy to the same desirable spot and reward with cuddles and a tasty dog treat when finished.

Never punish or rub the nose when the puppy has eliminated in an undesirable location. It creates anxiety and is ineffective at house training.

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Desexing is a routine day procedure generally recommended at 5- 6 months of age. It is a procedure performed under general anaesthesia, and with follow up of regular pain relief. Desexing a dog has many advantages including preventing unwanted pregnancy, and undesirable hormonal related behaviour such as marking, displaying of dominance, roaming and wandering.  Medical reasons for neutering include markedly reducing the chance of mammary gland tumours, avoiding a potentially fatal infection in the uterus in females, and avoiding testicular cancer in males. Other benefits include reducing the chance of problems affecting the prostate gland, which can potentially lead to constipation and herniation.

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Insurance is highly recommended as soon as your puppy arrives. It can give you great peace of mind knowing that medical expenses will be covered if your puppy becomes ill or have an accident. Some policies also cover for preventative treatment such as annual vaccination. Do not wait until there is a problem before considering health insurance as companies will not ensure for pre-existing conditions once they are diagnosed. There are several pet insurances available with different levels of cover to suit you and your puppy. Here are some examples:

-        Pet Plan

-        RSPCA Pet Insurance

-        Vets Own

-        Medibank Private Pet Insurance

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Socialisation and Puppy Pre-School

Your puppy should socialise with other dogs and people outside the family for new experiences from an early age. Remember to only allow your puppy to socialise with other fully vaccinated dogs until the immunisation phase is complete (usually about 2 weeks after the last puppy vaccination). It is important to avoid taking your puppy to public places during this period as they are still vulnerable to diseases. Socialisation period occurs from 3-12 weeks of age, any experience the puppy have at this period can be imprinted in their memories for life and affect behaviour. Positives experiences will lead to a confident and well socialised dog, who is not frightened or aggressive. Puppy pre-school provides a safe environment for socialisation and to learn good manners. Boroondara Park Animal Hospital has a puppy pre-school programme run by a Delta Society Accredited instructor from 'Boroondara Dog Training'.

Enjoy your bundle of joy and fun!

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