Congratulations on your new puppy! Getting a puppy is a busy and exciting time. We know that there’s a lot to remember so we’ve made this handy guide to get you through the first year!
Puppies need to be fed little and often. Invest in a good quality puppy food and feed the recommended amount over 3 meals, moving on to 2 meals from 6 months old. Large breed puppies should be fed a specific large breed food to promote healthy bone and joint development. Always provide fresh water and avoid cow’s milk as dogs are lactose intolerant.
Roundworms are transmitted to puppies via their mother’s milk and fleas carry tapeworms. For this reason regular worming treatment is essential. Use an appropriate product:
Every fortnight from 2 weeks old until 2 weeks after weaning
Every month until 6 months
Every 3 months lifelong
It’s especially important to treat fleas in puppies as large numbers can cause fatal anaemia. We strongly recommend prescription treatments, as over the counter products often aren’t as effective. Make sure all other pets in the household are up to date with flea and worming treatment. Tick protection is also important to prevent the spread of some diseases. Visit our parasite protection and frustrating fleas pages for more information.
First vaccination should happen between 8 and 10 weeks of age. Your dog will be vaccinated against: Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus and Leptospirosis. We can also vaccinate for Kennel Cough which may be required if you intend on putting your dog in kennels. Second vaccination is carried out 4 weeks later at or after 12 weeks of age. Your puppy should be fully immune 2 weeks after second vaccination. Yearly boosters are required lifelong. Visit our vaccination page for more information.
Weeks 3 to 16 are VITALLY IMPORTANT for your puppy’s development. These few weeks will have a lifelong impact on your pup’s behavior so it’s essential you put the work in now! During this time you need to expose your new pet to as many animals, noises and new experiences as possible! Before your pup is fully vaccinated we recommend avoiding areas with lots of unvaccinated dogs (i.e. public parks) and sticking to low risk situations, for example; carrying your pup around outside, car journeys, visiting other private homes/ gardens and socialisation with vaccinated dogs. Have a look at the Puppy Plan website from the Kennel Club which provides a great structure for socialising your pup.
We recommend that the majority of dogs are neutered at 5- 6 months of age.
- Male dogs can be neutered anytime
- Female dogs must be neutered before their first season or 3 months after their last season.
A female dog may come into season anytime from 6 to 18 months. Neutering your dog not only prevents unwanted litters but also prevents/ decreases the risk of certain cancers. In specific large breed dogs neutering is recommended after the first season this can be discussed with your vet. For more information on neutering have a look at our pages on neutering surgery and why you should neuter your dog. Here at South Devon Veterinary Hospital we offer two types of surgery for female dogs a conventional open spay widely used in veterinary practice or keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery which allows a much quicker recovery time. You can read more on keyhole surgery here.
It is now a legal requirement to have your dog microchipped by 8 weeks of age. This should have been done by the breeder and involves a small bead like transmitter being injected under the skin and your details registered to the microchip number. If your puppy has not been microchipped or you are not sure this can be checked at your first vaccination appointment. It is also a legal requirement that your details are up to date. To change the details on your dog’s chip you will need to find out the company the chip is registered with and contact them directly. For guidance on how to do this and to read more on microchipping visit our microchipping- FAQs page.
Having a dog is a big responsibility! Sometimes things go wrong and the cost of care can quickly escalate. It’s a good idea to invest in pet insurance. Be selective with your policy, consider a lifelong policy which will cover any ongoing conditions and check for any breed specific exclusions. Your puppy may be eligible for 4 weeks free insurance after its first vaccination however any health conditions picked up at the first examination will not be covered by the insurance.
And finally, good luck! Raising a puppy can be incredibly rewarding not to mention fun! If you have any concerns or need advice please don’t hesitate to get in contact to arrange an appointment with either a vet or a nurse.