Most people’s first experience of dog ownership is with a puppy.
Caring for a puppy presents a number of challenges and requires much patience and understanding, but the rewards are great. A puppy is endearing to everyone but they grow up all too fast.
Before you first bring a new animal into your household you should ask for advice from experts including your vet. You will need to research your pet to ensure that you can meet all its needs and that you have all the equipment needed to care for your pet. Fortunately, most pets remain healthy provided they are well cared for and receive preventative health treatment such as vaccination and worming. However, it is important that you form a good relationship with your vet so that you can provide the best possible care for your pet throughout its life.
Veterinary medicine has advanced in recent years and many more treatments are now available to vets.
It should come as no surprise that these advanced surgical and medical treatments are often expensive. Health insurance may help to eliminate the financial worries about caring for your pet.
In the UK about 1 in every 6 pets are covered by insurance. There are many policies available from those that protect valuable pedigree pets to policies designed for ordinary cats and dogs. Horses and other household pets like rabbits can also be covered. Your veterinary practice may provide the first port of call for further information on Pet Health Insurance.
Routine Health Care
The bond between a pet and its owner is very strong and provides huge rewards.
Along with the rewards comes the responsibility of caring for a living creature that depends upon you for all its needs. Caring for your pets needs means providing a good diet and regular exercise. A preventative healthcare programme for your pet should include worming and vaccination. Register your pet with your local vet even if it is perfectly healthy, you will know where to go in an emergency and your vet will be able to give you advice on routine health care.
The key to recognising illness in your pet is to know what your pet is like when it is well. Often an owner will be able to detect subtle changes in their pet’s behaviour or appetite that indicate illness well before anyone else can. Your partner in caring for your pet should be your veterinary surgeon. Regular visits to a vet for routine health checks and preventative health care such as vaccination allow you and your pet to build a relationship with your vet. Early detection of clinical diseases will allow your vet to give more effective treatments. Most pets live with us as part of the family – maintaining their health also means there is less risk of them passing on disease. The chance of you catching a disease from an animal is small but there are some diseases that people can get from animals (zoonoses). A healthy pet is unlikely to pass on disease.
Animals, just like people, are at risk from many infectious diseases.
In many cases there is no treatment for these and young puppies or kittens that catch them often die, the consequences of infection in older animals can also be serious. Protection against these potentially fatal diseases can be provided by vaccination. To keep your pet fit and healthy make sure they complete an initial course of vaccinations and then receive regular booster vaccinations.
In most cases a course of injections is given between the ages of 8 and 12 weeks (although some brands of vaccine allow vaccination of younger puppies which is important to allow early socialisation). ‘Booster’ vaccinations are given at 15 months and then at intervals throughout the dog’s life.
We would recommend that you have your new puppy at home for a few days to settle in before starting a vaccination course.
The first vaccination is given at 8-9 weeks of age. This includes vaccination to prevent disease from – Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus (P), Parainfluenza (Pi) and leptospirosis (L). The second vaccination is given at 10-12 weeks of age.
Please note that a puppy is not considered to have developed a protective immunity until about 2 weeks after the second vaccination, so keep puppies away from sources of infection until this time.
A booster vaccination is given when the puppy is approximately 15 months old and then annually. We currently use extended vaccination intervals for those diseases that vaccination has been shown to give a longer immunity.
Kennel cough vaccine is administered as drops applied into the dogs nostrils. This disease can be picked up anywhere that dogs congregate for example kennels, bridle paths and parks. This can be given at the same time as other vaccinations.
In order for your vet to diagnose a condition in your dog, they will probably need to carry out various diagnostic tests, examinations or imaging – these tests will help your vet to find out what’s going on and how to treat your dog.
Some of these tests are also used as part of a routine health check to detect hidden disease before the development of obvious signs.
There are also some veterinary procedures that you may need to learn if your dog needs treating on a regular basis from home, for example the administration of medication by injection.