The first few months of a puppy’s life are very important for both you and your puppy. As well as learning proper behaviour and being socialised, there are some important health needs to attend to.
Your puppy should receive a number of vaccinations depending on the age of your puppy and the type of vaccine used. Typically, vaccination programs start at 6-8 weeks of age, and boosters are given at approximately 4 to 6 week intervals until the puppy is 18 to 20 weeks of age. Annual vaccination is recommended to keep antibody levels high throughout life.
2. Intestinal worming
Many puppies are born with worms. Since roundworm can cause illness in humans, especially children, puppies need to be wormed every 2 weeks from 2 to 12 weeks of age, then monthly to 6 months, then at 3 monthly intervals afterwards.
Heartworm prevention usually starts at 3 months of age and is available as a daily or monthly tablet or chewable, or as a monthly ‘topspot’ application (a small amount of liquid applied between the shoulder blades).
There is now a once-a-year heartworm preventative available from your veterinarian that gives your dog 12 months protection from heartworm disease in one dose. The new Once-A-Year injection is administered by your vet and can be used in all dogs from 3 months of age.
Flea control is important from a young age, as a few fleas can end in plague-proportions in a couple of weeks! Fleas also carry tapeworm eggs, which infect puppies as they chew at and swallow the fleas. There are many different flea control preparations, not all of which are suitable for young puppies.
Good nutrition is vital at this age when bones are quickly growing. A puppy diet is required as it contains the right balance of nutrients, significantly calcium, and a good quality diet means it is readily digestible (undigested food results in soft, smelly faeces, and also flatulence). There are many different brands of premium pet foods. Large breeds of dogs have specific nutritional requirements during the rapid growth phase, so large breed puppy diets are recommended for these dogs.