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Congratulations on your new addition to the family! Owning a dog can be an extremely rewarding experience but also carries with it some responsibility. Here are some of the key considerations for a happy, healthy puppy.

Core vaccinations

Canine Parvovius, Distemper, Infectious Hepatitis, and Parainfluenza virus vaccinations are given in one injection. Parvovirus is the biggest concern in New Zealand. It is a serious viral disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract causing severe vomiting and diarrhoea. The disease commonly affects young dogs and can be difficult to treat however vaccination has proven very successful in prevention. Canine distemper is a serious disease affecting the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems. Infectious hepatitis is a serious disease affecting the liver and canine parainfluenza is a disease affecting the respiratory system.

Puppies should have a course of 2-3 vaccinations at 3-4 week intervals with the final vaccination being at 12 -16 weeks old. A typical puppy vaccination schedule will start at 8 weeks old with boosters at 12 and 16 weeks. Dogs need a booster of this vaccine when they are one-year-old and then this core vaccination can be given once every three years.

Non-core vaccinations

Canine leptospirosis – Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that is spread in the urine rodents. Pigs, cattle and dogs can act as reservoirs for the disease. The disease primarily affects the liver and kidneys and can vary in severity but can be fatal. Symptoms include jaundice, vomiting, lethargy, inappetance and seizures. Vaccination is recommended and consists of 2 vaccinations 3-4 weeks apart and then yearly boosters.

Canine cough – Infectious tracheobronchitis is a highly contagious and debilitating disease that is spread via nose to nose contact with other dogs. The infection can be caused by a bacteria or a virus and symptoms include a dry, hacking cough, loss of appetite, sneezing and nasal discharge. The disease can last several weeks and whilst most dogs make a full recovery, antibiotics may be necessary in some cases. Vaccination is recommended and is necessary if dogs are going to kennels. Vaccination can either be done by an intranasal vaccination given yearly or an initial course of 2 injectable vaccinations given 3-4 weeks apart and then repeatedly yearly.


Puppies can be infested with fleas from just a few days old. Flea bites can cause skin irritation and itching that can lead to dermatitis. Your dog can pick up fleas from anywhere in the environment that another infested animal has been such as parks and in the garden. It is important to remember that the fleas seen on your pet represent only 5% of the total flea population meaning that 95% of fleas are in the environment in various stages of their life cycle. In order to combat fleas there are a few important steps to follow:

  • Provide regular year round flea treatment to kill the fleas on your pet
  • Ensure all your cats and dogs are treated as an untreated pet can act as a host for fleas
  • Vacuum regularly and wash pet bedding above 60˚c in order to remove fleas, eggs and larvae in the environment
  • Use of flea bombs can help to further remove fleas from the home environment

There are a number of topical and tablet treatment options that provide effective flea control to suit every pet’s lifestyle. Please talk to our staff about which option is right for you and your dog.


Puppies can be infected with worms before they are born or pick them up after they are born from their mother’s milk or the environment. There are 4 types of worms that can affect dogs: Roundworms, Hookworms, Whipworms and Tapeworms. Symptoms of worm infestations include: a pot-bellied appearance, vomiting, diarrhoea, weight loss and low energy. Some worms can also be transferred to people, particularly children.

Worm treatments are an important part of your dog’s health program.

  • Puppies should be wormed every 2 weeks from 2 weeks old until 12 weeks of age
  • Puppies over 3 months old should be wormed monthly until 6 months old
  • Dogs over 6 months old should be wormed every 3 months
  • Working dogs should be wormed monthly to prevent transfer to sheep

There are many worm treatments available. Please talk to a member of staff for more information on which product is right for your pet.

Spay and Neutering

Spaying involves surgery to remove the ovaries and uterus of the female dog. Common reasons to spay your dog include prevention of oestrus “on heat” behaviour and prevention of unwanted offspring. Spaying also helps to prevent mammary and reproductive tract tumours and serious uterine infections. We recommend spaying your dog at around 6 months old, before the first heat. Neutering or castration involves removal of the testicles of the male dog. Common reasons to neuter include preventing unwanted offspring, reducing aggressive behaviours and reducing roaming.

Neutering also helps to prevent testicular tumours and prostate problems which can lead to constipation in older dogs. We recommend neutering your dog at around 6 months old.


A microchip is a device about the size of a grain of rice which has a unique number contained on it. This number links to a database which contains owner details. This means that if your pet ever goes missing and is found and taken to a vet clinic, the council or the SPCA they can scan the number and reunite you with your pet. All newly registered dogs must be microchipped for the council database. There is also the option of putting the microchip details on the national database as well so that if your dog goes missing outside New Plymouth your details can also be found. The microchip is inserted under the skin and the procedure is relatively quick and simple. It can be done in a consult or when your dog comes in for their spay/neuter.


It is important to feed a specific puppy food during the growth period of your puppy: the first year in small breed and the first 18month-2years in large or giant breed dogs. Too much or too little of the nutrients your puppy needs can make a big difference to their future health. The correct balance of calcium and phosphorous is crucial to the development of healthy bones and the prevention of serious diseases. Fat, protein and energy are also important. Different sized dogs have different requirements too so it is important that you select a puppy food for a large or small breed depending on your puppy.

A good diet will also ensure a glossy coat. Dull, dry coats or excessive moulting can indicate poor nutrition or a disease process. Premium foods all contain high quality, highly digestible ingredients and provide the best start for your puppy. The high digestibility means that premium foods minimise wastes so a dog’s stools are often significantly reduced when fed premium foods compared to a supermarket diet.

Dental conditions are common in dogs, particularly in small breeds. Premium foods include a special dental formula to slow the build-up of tartar, reducing the necessity for dental treatments in the future.

Please talk to our staff about the right food for your pet.

Treats and supplements -Excess table scraps may unbalance or dilute a complete, balanced commercial diet. Table scraps and treats should be <10% of total daily calories.

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