Dogs and Puppies
Puppies can have very sharp toe nails. They can be blunted and shortened using an emery board. They can also be trimmed with nail scissors or with clippers made for dogs and cats. However if you remove too much nail, you will cut the quick and cause bleeding and pain. If the puppy has clear or light coloured nails it is possible to see the quick as a pink line running through the nail. With black nails this is more difficult and therefore these should be trimmed at only about 1 mm a time to be safe. If in doubt, please consult us and we will show you exactly how to trim the nails.
Intestinal parasites are common in puppies as they can become infected with parasites before they are born or even later through their mother's milk. Modern de-worming preparations are safe and effective and the University generally recommends the following worming schedule:
- Worming at two week intervals until 12 wks of age
- Monthly until 6 months of age
- Then every three months for life.
Remember to always weigh your dog or puppy prior to worming so the correct dose is given.
It is critically important that the medication is repeated as it is usually only the adult worms that are killed with each dose and within 3-4 weeks, the larval stages will have matured and will need to be treated.
Round worms pose a small but definite risk to children; therefore it is good practice to regularly administer deworming preparations to your dog throughout their life. Today combined preparations, eradicating roundworms, tapeworms and even heartworm as well as other pathogenic worms are available and can be administered as tablets or a spot-on’s.
Please be aware that with some intestinal parasites you will be unable to actually see worms being passed by the puppy or dog. Worms that may be seen in the dog’s faeces include tapeworms (looking like grains of rice) and roundworms (look like spaghetti) but you won’t see hookworms.
Remember that correct training methods and techniques are critical for a well balanced and mannered dog. Rewarding puppies for good behaviour and ignoring and / or redirecting bad behaviour to a more appropriate activity will provide the best long term behavioural outcomes for your puppy. Rewarding good behaviour is generally very easy in our canine companions – food and praise!! Food rewards work particularly well, and these can be easily intermixed with praise. Remember it is also important to handle your puppy all over frequently. A puppy who has had their feet touched, mouths and ears opened and inspected will generally accept nail trimming and giving oral tablets much easier later on in life – making it easier for both you and your canine companion.
As of 1st July 2009 legislation in SE Queensland dictates that puppies and kittens who are 12 wks or older must be microchipped and registered with your local Council.
The University of Queensland Small Animal Clinic and Veterinary Teaching Hospital provides a microchipping service. A collar and tag in addition to a microchip is the best combination.
A microchip is inserted under the skin of your pup - just like a vaccination - and will provide permanent life time identification for you companion even if their collar is lost. Please discuss this with your University Veterinarian.
Diet is extremely important in the growing months of a dog's life, and there are two important criteria that should be met in selecting food for your puppy.
The diet should be nutritionally complete and adequate for puppies.
The diet should have physical qualities (texture, abrasiveness) that will help control plaque and maintain good oral health.
Feeding a dry, canned, or semi-moist form of dog food is acceptable. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Dry food is generally the most inexpensive form and can be left in the dog's bowl without drying. Tinned food has 70-80% water compared to dry food with only 10% moisture content so your puppy will appear to drink much more if fed a dry food.
Please discuss diet with your University of Queensland Small Animal Clinic and Veterinary teaching Hospital Veterinarian.
Responsible ownership involves having a well-mannered dog and training to achieve this should commence as soon as the puppy joins your family. Puppies are continuously learning from the moment their eyes are open and responsible breeders will ensure that the elements of training have commenced long before you get your puppy at 8 weeks of age. Remember training is not some formal process but should occur all the time we are together with a dog to give consistent and appropriate messages.
Training and socialisation are intermixed, a well socialised and mannered dog is invariably a well trained dog and vice versa. Thus puppies should be socialised. They should be handled in a positive and pleasant way by family members and strangers as soon as possible and then be introduced to other dogs, preferably to puppies, as soon possible. In addition being exposed to a variety of situations such as cars, traffic and new places will also help. Many training clubs and some veterinary practices run puppy classes in order to initiate training and ensure adequate socialisation takes place.
Basic training of a puppy is not a very difficult task provided certain simple rules are followed:
- Keep the tasks simple and only go one step at a time.
- Keep it all positive – if the puppy shows fear do not force them to enjoy it!!
- Teach sounds and words as commands and not sentences
- When trying to programme the puppy to respond to your command, avoid distractions and competing activities.
- Be effusive with your praise and don't be afraid to use food rewards.
- Ignore failures and certainly do not punish the puppy, and finally;
- Be consistent and this applies to all members of the family.
The socialisation period for dogs is between 4 and 20 weeks of age. During this time, the puppy is very impressionable to social influences. If he or she have good experiences with men, women, children, cats, other dogs, new situations etc., they are likely to accept them throughout life and be well adjusted canine companions! If the experiences are absent or unpleasant, they may become apprehensive or adverse to any of them. However depending upon the vaccination recommended for your puppy some may not have built up a complete immunity from the vaccination programme until approximately 14 weeks of age. You have the dilemma of endeavouring to socialise him on the one hand, and trying to isolate him from exposure to potentially harmful diseases on the other. The aim is to strike a balance and obviously not expose them to the risk of disease, but at the same time, ensure that as much socialisation as possible, both with people and other animals, takes place.
Regular intestinal worm tablets do NOT prevent heartworm. Heartworm preventatives come in a variety of forms today including monthly chewable tablets and an annual injection but no matter what all puppies and dogs must be given heartworm prevention for their entire life. Your University Vet will discuss options available to you.
Fleas can be a big problem for cats and dogs in Queensland. Our weather and environment are ideal to keep fleas breeding all year. Fleas can cause many skin problems with some dogs having severe allergic reactions to the bite of the flea while others dogs may be in a constant state of irritation. In puppies heavy burdens can result in anaemia and even death while fleas are also hosts and integral in the tapeworm life cycle.
If you are having problems with fleas at home always consider:
- Regular flea treatment for ALL pets. In order to achieve successful flea control in your home, it is very important that you treat every pet within your household, on a monthly basis ALL year round
- The effects of washing and swimming. It is important to not let water interfere with effective flea control but obviously swimming can be an issue with our canine companions. Please follow product labels clearly
- Environmental challenge within the household. Any untreated animal which spends time in your home environment is able to bring fleas with them. So be aware!
- Environmental Challenge in other environments. Fleas can infest your dog practically anywhere. Fleas can jump up to 48cm lengthwise and 20cm high. For dogs a simple trip to the park may mean unwanted guests returning with them
There are many different methods of flea control available to suit your dog and puppy. The method used depends on your animal’s age, number of pets in the house, indoor and outdoor access of animals etc. Discuss this with your University Veterinarian. Today there are new, innovative products which are eminently suitable for use on even very tiny puppies and many protect against other internal and external parasites as well.
There are many potentially fatal diseases for dogs but luckily we can successfully vaccinate against many of them. Vaccines are generally given as a course of injections over the animal’s life starting from 6-8wks of age and provide protection for Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus and Canine Cough. Your University of Queensland Veterinarian will tailor the ideal vaccination regime for you and your new companion.
The University recommends using a mixture of triennial and annual vaccinations to provide your companion with the best protection possible. We vaccinate our canine companions, as even though they are born with some protection from their mother, this protection is only short lived and vaccination will provide them with the best cover possible. Modern vaccines have the ability to overcome maternal immunity, meaning they can get protection earlier in life and start enjoying life experiences safely.
Spaying (desexing) offers several advantages. The female's heat periods or seasons result in about 2-3 weeks of vulval bleeding. This can be quite annoying if your dog is kept indoors. During this period she is attractive to any neighbourhood male dogs and these can sometimes cause considerable nuisance! Your bitch will generally have a ‘season’ every 6 months. In some cases, despite your best efforts, the bitch will become pregnant. Spaying is the removal of uterus and ovaries. Heat periods no longer occur and thus unplanned litters of puppies are prevented.
It has been proven that as the bitch gets older; there is a significant incidence of mammary (breast) cancer and uterine infections if she has not been spayed. Spaying before she has a ‘season’ will prevent these problems. If you do not plan to breed from your dog, we strongly recommend that she be spayed.
Desexing male dogs offers several advantages. Male dogs are attracted to a female dog in heat and may climb over or go through fences to find her. Male dogs are generally more aggressive and more likely to fight, especially with other male dogs. As dogs age, the prostate gland frequently enlarges and causes difficulty urinating and defaecating. Desexing will solve, or greatly help, all of these problems that come with owning a male dog.