Caring for Puppies

Your beautiful new puppyCongratulations on the arrival of your new family member. The following information is provided to help you with all the necessary health care your new puppy will require.


Is it important to vaccinate? Yes, your pets should be vaccinated to protect them against specific highly contagious diseases. Occasionally, outbreaks occur and the best form of protection is having your pet fully vaccinated. Protection from vaccination declines over time and it’s recommended that we vaccinate annually for ongoing and strong immunity.

Why do puppies require a series of vaccinations? Because natural immunity is initially provided by their mother’s milk, but as this protection wears off puppies and kittens are highly susceptible to disease. Therefore, a series of vaccinations provide optimal protection against disease for the first few months of your pet’s life. We recommend a course of vaccinations at 6 weeks, 12 weeks and 16 weeks of age, then annually for life.

We believe vaccinations are probably the single most important part of your pet’s health care. Nothing is more tragic than a wonderful loyal pet coming down with a deadly disease that was preventable.

Canine Parvovirus is a viral gastroenteritis that is highly contagious. Depression, loss of appetite, severe vomiting and diarrhoea containing blood are some of the signs. Without treatment, death can occur within 24 hours.

Canine Distemper is a highly contagious disease producing signs such as fever, depression, loss of appetite and discharge of pus from the eyes and nose. In severe cases, the brain may become affected resulting in convulsions and death. Treatment is often ineffective.

Canine Hepatitis in puppies, Hepatitis can cause sudden death, whilst adult dogs can experience weakness, fever, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, bleeding and acute abdominal pain due to enlargement of the liver. In severe cases, death may occur within 24 to 36 hours from onset.

Canine Parainfluenza Virus and Bordetella (Canine Cough) – Signs include a dry hacking cough that often finishes with gagging and persists for several weeks. These are both highly contagious diseases especially in enclosed conditions such as boarding kennels and show rings. They are commonly transmitted by close contact to secretions from an infected dog.

Tetanus is the same tetanus that causes “lockjaw” in humans. The bacteria that cause this disease are generally found in the soil, but can be found in particularly high concentrations in horse manure. Like us, our dogs are infected via penetrating wounds, which introduce the killer bacteria.

Your puppy will require a course of vaccinations:
6 – 8 weeks First vaccination – Temporary
10 – 12 weeks Booster vaccine
14 -16 weeks Final vaccine

Then yearly for life
We will receive a reminder when your dog’s yearly vaccination is due. One week after their 16 week vaccination, your puppy can socialise with other dogs or go for walks in the park etc.


Heartworm can affect dogs and is spread by mosquitoes. Dogs affected by heartworm will have an infestation of long thin worms lodged in the heart and vessels that feed on surrounding blood. This interferes with circulation and damages tissues, eventually causing heart failure. If left untreated this can result in the death of your pet.

Heartworm prevention should commence from 10-12 weeks of age with once a month preventative medication. There is also an injection called Proheart that can be given to puppies at 3 months of age then repeated at 6 months and annually for life. This annual injection given under the skin and can be given at the same time as annual vaccinations. Heartworm prevention is needed for the life of your pet.


Did you know many puppies are born with worms? They can also be infected through their mother’s milk. This can seriously affect the health of your puppy.

It can represent a significant health hazard for humans as well, particularly for young children and toddlers. Children love to cuddle and kiss puppies. Unfortunately, worm eggs and larvae can be swallowed in the process.

During the first few months of a puppy’s life, it’s vital to give them the best care you can. We recommend puppies to be treated at 2 weeks until 12 weeks of age, then every month until they are 6 months of age then every 3 months for life. It is very important to use an all wormer like Drontal® that covers roundworm, hookworm, whipworm and tapeworm prevention. Worms are a common cause of ill health in our pets and can cause signs such as loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea and in severe cases death.


Fleas are unfortunately an ever present nuisance to our pets. If they exist in the environment, they will find a way onto your pet’s coat. Fleas can be prevented easily and effectively with a once a month topical solution. All pets in the household need to be treated. Puppies can be given a topical flea treatment as early as 6-8 weeks of age. Our Veterinary Healthcare Team can provide you with the most effective flea control for your puppy.


The food you choose to feed your puppy during the first year is critical to their adult development and growth. Puppies need a balanced nutritional diet with fats, protein and minerals like calcium and phosphorous for strong bones and muscles. These also provide plenty of energy for growth and play. As puppies come in many different shapes and sizes, their nutritional needs may vary. We stock the full range of Hills Science Diet® which is specially formulated to ensure our pets get all the nutrition they need to grow healthy and strong, no matter how big or small.
Milk is unnecessary and can cause diarrhoea in those that are lactose intolerant. Clean water must be available at all times.


Sterilising your puppy or kitten we believe makes them a much better pet to own. Sterilisation does make your pet more socially acceptable and friendly and sterilisation will not change your pet’s personality. We recommend sterilisation between four and six months of age.

We recommend all dogs, male and female to be desexed. The optimum age is 4 to 6 months of age when the animal is approaching sexual maturity but before they come on heat.

As well as reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies, desexing prevents pets from roaming, fighting or causing nuisance to neighbours. In females, it significantly reduces the risk of uterine and mammary cancer and in males; it reduces the risk of cancer of the prostate gland and testicles.


Why is it important to microchip your pet? We believe it is as important as vaccinating your pet.

If found your pet can be back with you in a very short time. So it provides peace of mind should your pet become lost. We have so many pets come into the hospital that are lost and do not have a microchip, which means we can’t find their owner. Unfortunately, many of these pets are put down. That’s why micro chipping is so important. A microchip is an inexpensive lifetime guarantee meaning if your pet is lost, you will find it again. Microchipping is a safe and simple procedure.

It can save your pet’s life. Microchipping is a permanent form of identification in the form of a tiny chip, which is implanted under the skin. Registration details are kept with Central Animal Records and can be updated if there is any change in owner details.


Pet insurance is becoming more and more popular in Australia as the benefits of covering pets against illnesses and accidents are recognised. Pet insurance offers you peace of mind. If your pet is involved in an accident or suffers a sudden illness the medical costs can be several hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Unfortunately, many pets are euthanised each year as owners are unable to meet these unexpected costs. Pet insurance is your safeguard against this outcome.

There are several companies that offer pet insurance and there are new companies emerging all the time, even general house insurance companies are taking on pet insurance. Please ask one of our health care team for more information on health insurance that relates to your pets and your requirements.


The primary function of puppy pre-school is for your puppy to socialise with other puppies, children and strangers in a safe and controlled environment. We have developed these classes so you, your puppy and your children can learn about caring for your new puppy, teaching your puppy what is right and wrong and responsible health care.

We aim to help you develop a wonderful relationship with your puppy and have lots of fun along the way. These classes are great fun for owners and puppies are a must for any pet owner wanting a well behaved sociable dog. If you are interested in puppy classes, please see our puppy pre-school page and call the hospital to make a booking.

We look forward to seeing you and your new puppy in soon.

If you have any further concerns or questions, please don’t hesitate to call one of our health care team at the Australind Vet Hospital on 08 9797 1584.