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Your dog's first vaccination is due at 6 to 8 weeks. They will need a booster at 12 weeks and possibly 16 weeks depending on the vaccination type and timing. A C4 or C5 (we strongly recommend C5), of a number of brand types, will provide protection against distemper, parvo (parvovirus), hepatitis, parainfluenza (C4) and also bordatella brontiseptica (C5). The last two are forms of "Kennel (or Canine) Cough".
You should start your dog on heartworm prevention from 6 months of age. Check with your vet for advice on various treatment options.
Testing for Heartworm
Adult dogs (over 6 months) must be tested for heartworm before starting treatment. This is a simple blood test to make sure they are not already infected. If infected, some treatment and prevention types can harm your dog.
Adult dogs should be wormed every three months. Choose an 'all wormer' which kills all gastrointestinal worms. Follow the dose directions according to your dog's weight. Treat all of your animals at the same time.
Your dog should be fed good quality commercial dog food, either tinned, dry, or preferably, a combination of both. If other home cooked foods are given, mix with commercial dog food to provide the necessary vitamins and nutrients.
Vitamins and Supplements
Vitamins and supplements are not necessary if you provide your dog with a balanced commercial dog food diet of good quality.
Healthy Teeth and Gums
Raw bones are good for your dog’s teeth and gums. They help strengthen, clean and reduce bad breath. Provide bones in a size that relates to your dog's size. Never give cooked bones of any type.
Cow’s milk and weetbix are not suitable for dogs or puppies. They have no nutritional value for dogs and cow's milk can cause diarrhoea.
There are many commercial products to treat fleas. Possibly the most effective are the liquid capsules such as 'Revolution' 'Advantage' or 'Frontline', all of which are available from your vet. Flea irritation can become a serious problem with dogs if not controlled at the earliest stages. You may have to treat the environment as well as the animal.
Long haired dogs require daily grooming. Failure to attend to this can result in serious health problems for your dog. If you do not have the time to groom your dog, it is advisable to look into purchasing a short haired breed.
Unless you are a registered breeder, you should seriously consider having your dog desexed. This can modify their temperament, thereby reducing the risks associated with dog ownership, and reduces the risk of later diseases for your dog, such as various cancers.
Don't fall for the old wive's tale that female dogs need to have a litter of puppies before desexing. This is not true as it risks the dogs health, possibly leaves you with vet bills and certainly leaves you with pups to find homes for.
Overweight dogs (and cats) are at a health risk. Dogs can become overweight due to overfeeding (and by feeding the wrong type of foods) and not enough exercise. Some human foods are toxic to animals, always feed the correct food to the appropriate animal.
Dogs in the Heat
Never walk your dog when it is very hot. Dogs can die from heatstroke. They have very limited options for cooling themselves down. Hot pavement can also burn the pads on the bottoms of their feet. See 'Summer Heat and your pet'
Dogs in Cars
Never leave your dog in the car on a hot day. Even with the windows down slightly, the temperature inside the car rises very rapidly which will kill your dog through heatstroke and dehydration. Leaving your dog in the car on a hot day is considered a cruel act. Prosecution can follow.
Exercise after Feeding
Never allow your dog to actively exercise immediately before or after feeding. This can cause the animal to bloat which, if not treated rapidly, can lead to a very painful death. Large chested dogs are particularly susceptible to this risk. Always wait at least an hour between exercise and feeding.
It is essential to exercise your dog for physical and mental health reasons. Dogs get bored with the same routine and view, even if they have a large backyard.
Dogs need to have training, this relieves stress, anxiety and frustration behaviours. See our Dog Training Classes.
Swimming is great exercise for dogs, especially if the dog has physical problems such as arthritis and other leg or knee problems