New Puppy Guide

Owning a dog is a big responsibility and requires commitment. If looked after properly, your dog will bring you many years of joy and companionship and can be one of the best experiences of your life. Neglected they become bored, destructive, a nuisance to neighbours and in some cases a danger to both you, children and other people and in these cases it is always the dog who pays the highest price. They require your time and are one of the more expensive animals to keep. Your dog relies on you for its food, shelter, entertainment, socialisation, training and its medical welfare. The more time and effort you put in to the care of your dog (especially in the first 12 to 18 months) the more you will receive in return for the rest of its life.

Key points to giving your puppy the best care is to understand the following:

  • Routine veterinary care – vaccinations/worming/parasite control/desexing
  • Diet/nutrition
  • Basic dog behaviours
  • Importance of training/socialisation


All dogs need vaccinating and puppies need 3 vaccinations a month apart when young to protect them against the following infectious viral diseases:

  • Parvovirus – a severe form of gastroenteritis, characterised by bleeding and immune system suppression, which may be fatal.
  • Hepatitis – a liver disease which can cause uncontrollable bleeding and may be fatal.
  • Distemper – a gastrointestinal and respiratory disease, with neurological complications, which is difficult to treat and may be fatal.
  • Canine Cough – a highly contagious respiratory infection often transmitted through contact with high numbers of other dogs (eg obedience classes and boarding kennels).

The recommended vaccination
protocol is:

1st vaccination – 6 weeks
2nd vaccination – 10 weeks
3rd vaccination – 14 weeks
Plus yearly boosters

Intestinal worms

Puppies and dogs are susceptible to intestinal worms and should be wormed regularly. This will also help prevent possible human infection by reducing the build-up of worm eggs in the home environment. A ‘Pot-bellied’ appearance, anaemia, diarrhoea or weight loss may indicate that your dog has worms.

An all-inclusive wormer that treats hookworm, roundworm, whipworm AND tapeworm, is the most convenient and effective treatment. These can be purchased in tablet, chewable, paste, or liquid forms (all to be given by mouth), or spot-on (skin) formulations.

Dogs with access to offal (eg some farm dogs) must be wormed for tapeworms every 6 weeks to prevent hydatid tapeworm infection. This is transmissible to humans and is a serious health risk.

We recommend the following worming schedule:

0 – 3 months of age – worm every 2 weeks
3 – 6 months – worm every month
6 months+ – worm every 3 months


Fleas can be a common problem for dogs, especially in the warmer months. As well as causing irritation they can trigger conditions such as flea allergy dermatitis, anaemia or tapeworm infections.

Fleas can be controlled by using one of the easy-to-apply ‘spot-on’ treatments such as ‘Revolution’ or ‘Advantage’ once a month. These treatments quickly kill any fleas on your dog and then continue to kill fleas for up to 4 weeks. Monthly chews can also be used for flea treatment such as Comfortis, Nexgard and Bravecto. By killing all the adult population, fleas cannot complete their life cycle and so can be effectively eradicated.


The ‘paralysis tick’ is found in coastal areas of Eastern Australia. They can attach themselves to your dog and cause progressive paralysis, which if left untreated may lead to suffocation and death.

Before taking your pet to an area likely to have ticks (eg coastal zones) you should use a preventative parasite treatment, ‘Nexgard’, ‘Bravecto’, ‘Advantix’, or tick collars.

Whilst you are in the area, it is important to thoroughly inspect your dog each day for the presence of ticks and if discovered they should be safely and quickly removed. Please speak to one of our vets for further explanation.

If you think that your dog is showing any signs of tick paralysis please contact a vet immediately.


Heartworm disease is spread by mosquitoes and causes a debilitating form of congestive heart failure and lung disease, which may be fatal and is difficult to treat. Currently there is a low risk of heartworm infection in the Queanbeyan area, with pockets of infection around Canberra and high risk with increased mosquito number (eg coastal and irrigation regions). To reduce this risk even further, prevention in the form of a yearly injection or monthly tablets or spot-on treatments are available. We can advise on the need for testing for heartworm disease or a prevention regime to suit you.


Desexing prevents unwanted pregnancies in female dogs and helps to reduce problems such as wandering and aggression in male dogs. It will also greatly reduce or eliminate the risk of abnormalities such as cancers and infections of the reproductive tract that may occur especially as pets get older.

We recommend all dogs (except breeding animals) be desexed at 6 months of age.

Desexing involves surgery to remove the ovaries and uterus of females or the testicles of males. It is a day procedure and, with adequate pain relief and the use of dissolvable stitches, a revisit is usually not required. Following the procedure, desexed animals should be kept indoors or confined for 10 days until healing is complete.


Early training and socialisation are extremely important for ALL dogs. Between 2 to 6mths of age is recognised as being your dogs peak socialisation period. The more you can expose your dog to different situations during this time, in a positive way, the better your dog will be able to cope with ‘life’ later on. Behavioural problems such as ‘fear-biting’, excessive barking, separation anxiety and destructive behaviour are often due to a lack of basic training and socialisation.

Participating in a training and obedience program also helps develop the strong bond between you and your dog – and can be great fun as well!

Ask us for information about our puppy classes, local Dog Training Clubs, or individual dog training.


Dogs love toys and they enrich your dog’s environment especially if you have a variety and they have to work at something for a reward (eg: treat balls).

Many dogs also love playing with and fetching sticks, however we STRONGLY recommend you DO NOT throw sticks for your dog. As veterinary professionals we see many injuries caused by sticks getting accidentally jammed in mouths or down throats which can very easily become life threatening. Please choose toys that are not only specifically designed for dogs but are also an appropriate size for your dog. Avoid sticks, children’s toys that may break and be swallowed and human possessions (be fair to your dog – dogs don’t know the difference between an old shoe and a new one!) and most importantly – have fun playing with your dog!


Under the NSW Companion Animals Act, all pet owners have new and greater responsibilities, especially in regard to pet identification.

Since 1 July 2002, all dogs must be microchipped by 12 weeks of age for lifetime identification and be lifetime registered by 6 months of age with your local council.

This is also the best way to ensure that if your pet goes missing and is picked up by the pound, he or she can be promptly returned to you.


It is important to provide a complete and balanced diet for dogs, particularly at certain stages in their lives such as puppy-hood, pregnancy and lactation. We recommend that you base feeding your dog on a high quality commercial food for convenience and we can advise you on the best option for your dog’s needs. We regularly stock the Hills Science Diets and can order in Eukanuba, Advance or Royal Canin brands as well as other specialised products as required.

We appreciate the benefits of feeding ‘natural’ foods to provide diversity in your pet’s diet. However, care should be taken when feeding only home-cooked meals, so that all aspects of your dog’s dietary needs are being met. Please ask one of our vets for advice if you plan to feed your dog in this way.

We strongly encourage the provision of raw, meaty bones (without sharp edges) for dental health and because most dogs enjoy bones! Keeping your dogs teeth clean is an important part of their care as poor dental health can not only be unpleasant for you and painful for your dog but is also associated with other diseases such as heart disease, kidney/liver disease and septicaemia.

What ever diet you choose, obesity is the most common nutritional problem seen in dogs. Excessive weight contributes to many chronic diseases and can reduce the quality and the length of their life. It is important to get into the routine of measuring the amount of food given and having set meal times instead of leaving food out all day.

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