Puppy Preventative Healthcare - what's it for?
Preventative healthcare is an essential part of caring for your new puppy. It is far easier and more cost effective to prevent certain conditions, especially in young animals, than it is to treat them after they occur. With some simple steps you can provide your puppy with a happier, healthier life.
Dogs (particularly young puppies) are at risk of a number of preventable diseases. These include but are not limited to:
- Canine distemper virus - it is a virus that can affect a number of body systems including the gut, lungs, spine and brain. Common signs include a high temperature, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhoea, coughing, laboured breathing and can progress to seizures. It can be fatal in many cases.
- Canine hepatitis virus - it is a virus that spreads in the blood of dogs and can have effects on the liver, kidneys and eyes. Clinical signs can vary but death is reported in 30% of cases.
- Canine parvovirus - it is a highly contagious virus that attacks the gut of dogs, particularly puppies, causing severe diarrhoea, weakness and dehydration. 90% of puppies will die without treatment, and even with aggressive veterinary treatment up to 20% of puppies will not survive.
- Leptospirosis - it is a bacteria that can cause high temperatures, and damage your dog’s liver or kidneys. It can be fatal and if animals do recover, long term organ damage is possible. Importantly, leptospirosis can be transmitted from infected dogs to humans and cause equally significant issues including death.
Fortunately, we are able to vaccinate against these conditions. This involves an initial course of 2 vaccinations, with the first typically being given at 7-8 weeks of age. Annual vaccinations are given every year to provide ongoing protection, but not every vaccine is given every year - parvovirus, distemper and hepatitis vaccines last for (at least) 3 years in most dogs, and it’s only Leptospirosis that needs boosting annually.
A microchip is a small electronic device, approximately the size of a grain of rice, which is implanted under the skin of your puppy. This does not hurt any more than a normal injection. The chip has a unique code which can be read with a scanner, allowing your puppy to be identified and reunited with you if it goes missing or is stolen.
As of 2016 it is now a legal requirement for your puppy to be microchipped by 8 weeks of age. If not done you face a £500 fine.
Even the cleanest dog can pick up fleas from other animals they meet or from the environment. Only 5% of fleas live on the animal, meaning that if your puppy does catch fleas, your house can quickly become infested. Fleas can cause intense irritation and in severe cases are associated with blood loss. Fleas can also bite humans.
There are a number of different flea treatments available (tablets, flea collars and spot on treatments), the frequency of use very much depends on the product used. Products available in shops outside of the vets are often not veterinary licensed and are frequently ineffective. We are always happy to discuss which products are most effective to prevent your puppy from catching fleas.
Puppies can carry high numbers of worms in their digestive tract, as certain worms are transferred from their mum while they are in their mother’s womb and in the milk when they are feeding after birth. Even if puppies have not yet been outside, they can still have high levels of worms.
Worms can cause a variety of clinical signs including abdominal bloating, poor and stunted growth, and diarrhoea in puppies. Importantly, one roundworm (Toxocara canis) can be transmitted from dogs to their human owners causing fever, fatigue and abdominal pain. Rare cases of blindness have been reported in humans associated with the migration of this parasite into the eyeballs.
We recommend worming your puppy every 4 weeks until they are 6 months old, then every 3-4 months depending on their lifestyle and risk factors. Not every worming product will treat all types of worms. We can provide advice regarding which worming products are suitable.
Neutering is the permanent removal of your dog’s reproductive organs (ovaries and usually uterus in female dogs and testicles in male dogs). This is typically performed from 6 months of age.
In female dogs, neutering prevents the development of pyometra (a potentially fatal infection of the uterus) and also significantly reduces the risk of dogs developing breast cancer if neutering is performed early. It prevents unwanted pregnancies and stops dogs from having seasons.
In male dogs, neutering can help prevent dogs from roaming to look for a mate. It can also reduce unwanted humping/aggressive behaviour, stop testicular cancers and certain conditions of the prostate.
Speak to us to discuss whether neutering is appropriate for your pet and if so the best timing for your dog.
We are always happy to discuss any questions you have about preventative healthcare for your puppy. Please do not hesitate to contact us to make an appointment to discuss these further.