We recommend that all dogs have a C5 level of protection. This means that they are protected against the core viral diseases (distemper, hepatitis and parvovirus) and also against kennel cough (parainfluenza and Bordatella). This will ensure that dogs have a level of protection that will enable them to be kennelled if ever required and also that they are protected against killer diseases (eg parvovirus) and commonly encountered conditions (eg kennel cough).
We have a philosophy regarding vaccination that less is more so have chosen to use a vaccine which the core part only needs to be given every three years. The kennel cough vaccine still has to be given every year and we also recommend an annual check-up as being vitally important to your dog’s overall health.
Our vaccination protocol is:
- 1st vaccine at 6-8 weeks.
- 2nd vaccine at 10-12 weeks.
- Then yearly health checks and vaccines as required.
Heartworm disease is a potentially fatal condition caused by a worm that gets into a dog’s bloodstream and travels to some of the main arteries leading out of the heart.
It is spread by mosquitos.
It can be prevented by three main types of treatments:
Monthly tablets/chewables/spot-ons or a
The important point to remember about heartworm disease is that preventatives only kill the immature forms of the worms and not the adults so they must be given at the appropriate interval and on time for the entire life of your dog.
If your dog’s heartworm prevention lapses for any reason then they will usually require a blood test to ensure they do not have any adult heartworms prior to restarting their preventatives.
Intestinal worms are potentially harmful to dogs especially puppies and some of them are also capable of causing disease in people. For these reasons, we recommend regular intestinal worming of all puppies and dogs. Unlike heartworm, if you forget a three-monthly dose of intestinal wormer then you should just carry on with the next dose as scheduled.
A few important points about fleas:
The flea life cycle means that most fleas actually live off your dog. This means that for every flea you see on your pet, there are dozens more in their environment waiting to jump on. This also explains why products that just kill the fleas that are on your pet (shampoos and rinses) are not very effective at eliminating flea infestations.
Because of the speed that fleas breed and the fact that they are so common, they have a habit of developing resistance to flea control products over time. This is why you really need to use the most modern and up-to-date flea control products that are available.
Ask us about the best flea control plan for your situation.
One paralysis tick can potentially kill a dog so three things are important:
- Keep away from areas where ticks live - mainly areas of scrub or bushland where the intermediate hosts may live (most native marsupials are relatively resistant to the tick)
- Use effective paralysis tick prevention products - the most effective are Nexgard and Bravecto
- Check your dogs daily for ticks - they mostly attach around the head and neck but can be found anywhere. Paralysis ticks can be removed when found by using tweezers or just grasping them at their attachment site with fingernails.
Symptoms of tick paralysis can be vomiting, coughing or retching, usually with some degree of difficulty breathing, and weakness or incoordination of the hind legs.
Check out our tick top tips at www.wellpets.com.au/PetInfo/TickParalysis.aspx
Diet and feeding:
We recommend that dogs and puppies are fed a good quality diet that is appropriate for the size, age and type of dog that you have. When it comes to dog food there is some truth in the old saying that you get what you pay for, so we recommend that you start with the best food that your budget will allow and see how he/she copes with it. If your dog seems to like the food and there is no diarrhoea and minimal flatulence then you’ve probably got a good match for your dog. Remember, all dogs are different and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to feeding your dog. The most important thing to remember is that regardless of what you feed your dog, you must never allow him/her to become overweight.
There are a few ways you can keep your dog’s teeth in tip top shape but the most important thing is that whatever you choose to do, you should start as soon as all of the adult teeth arrive which is about six months. You should also try to do something every single day - dental care is never going to be effective if only performed once a fortnight.
In order of effectiveness, we recommend:
- Brushing, with or without doggie toothpaste, is the most effective way of controlling plaque on teeth. There are lots of videos on the web about how to do this effectively. This method works best for puppies and young dogs that have had a brush introduced at an early age.
- Regular scaling and polishing of the teeth. This is done under general anaesthetic adn will help to complement daily preventative care. We recommend an annual scale and polish.
- Dental diets are veterinary prescription diets that usually are made in such a way that chewing on the oversized biscuit will help to clean the teeth. Good examples of these types of food are Hills T/d and Royal Canin Dental Diet.
- Dental treats such as Greenies and Oravet Chews have been shown to help reduce or prevent plaque buildup, so if used regularly, can contribute to overall oral health.
- There is now a product called Healthy Mouth which is added to the water and can control plaque buildup. It must be used before there is any plaque on the teeth so is useful in young dogs and dogs that have just had a scale and polish.
- Bones and chicken wings used to be advocated for oral health but it has been found that particularly hard bones can fracture teeth and get stuck in the throat (though fortunately this is not common) and no-one likes to have raw chicken lying around in dog’s bowls for any amount of time. So bones and chicken wings are OK if you give soft, raw bones that your dog can consume quickly and if your dog is used to eating them and generally chews them properly before trying to swallow them.
All dogs of all ages need exercise.
This should happen every day and should involve leaving the yard. There are two reasons for this: Dogs are more likely to exercise better and be more stimulated away from the everyday environment that they live in for upwards of 23 hours a day - just watch how much a dog will sniff and interact with new environments compared to their own back yard. It is probably appropriate to think of the backyard as a comfortable prison for your furry companion so it should come as no surprise to find out that dogs that are exercised outside of the yard regularly have significantly less behavioural problems than dogs that are mostly confined to a back yard.
Its also no surprise that owners of dogs that are exercised regularly are fitter and healthier than owners of ‘yard dogs’ so get that Halti out (don’t use check chains or harnesses to walk your dogs unless they are very well behaved) and get exercising.
Training and socialisation:
The importance of proper socialisation and training can’t be overstated - socialisation can mean the difference between a dog that is well adjusted and a pleasure to have around and a dog that is difficult to train, fearful, unruly and unable to adapt to new situations.
The window of opportunity of puppy socialisation closes fairly early. Some veterinary behaviourists say that it starts to close at 12 weeks of age. Before this age, pups tend to be able to adapt to changes in their life and new things which may be scary at first (vacuum cleaners and mowers etc) and after approximately 18 weeks it becomes more difficult for your dog to adapt to things that they may find fearful.
To make use of this window of opportunity, you should introduce your puppy to as many different objects, noises, people, other pets and situations as you can. Be careful during this period not to reinforce fearful behaviour by being gently encouraging in a positive manner, rewarding exploratory behaviour and ignoring anxiousness.
We also use this time to start to introduce some progress towards good manners. This means that we teach our puppies to control their mouthiness and jumping up, teach them to sit and stay, and teach them that it is appropriate for them to allow their mouth, ears, eyes and feet to be handled by their human owners.
Just one more word about training and socialisation: There appears to be as many different theories about dog behaviour as there are dog trainers and this can be overwhelming to most dog owners and can lead to a lot of confusion. Veterinary behaviourists have now shown that some of the old theories especially in relation to wolves, pack structure and dominance are not relevant to modern dog behaviour. In general terms, if a dog trainer uses positive reward based techniques for changing behaviour then they should be on the right track.
We recommend that all dogs are desexed either before they reach sexual maturity or after they have finished any breeding.
There are health benefits to having dogs desexed, especially females who can get mammary tumours and pyometra if left entire but there are also lifestyle factors that are important to consider.
Modern urban dogs live in an artificial environment with restrictions on some of their natural behaviours and it makes sense that they should cope with these restrictions better if they are desexed. For example, as a society we dislike dogs’ fighting, roaming, barking excessively and having unplanned litters and desexing can help to reduce all of these problems.
It’s also a lot cheaper to register desexed dogs with the council!
Its the law - you have to have your dogs microchipped before the age of 12 weeks and it makes sense to have your dog identifiable in the unhappy case that he/she escapes from the yard.
Everyone knows that with the ever increasing sophistication of veterinary health care comes increasing cost and sometimes these costs can be hard to fit into already squeezed budgets. Pet health insurance can help with these often unexpected costs and can alleviate the anguish of having to choose the level of care your dog gets based on your ability to afford the cost of the care. There are many companies available and most companies will offer a range of products so you should always check to see what is covered or excluded for the level of insurance that you choose.
A few examples of pet health insurance companies are: Petplan, Prosure and RSPCA pet insurance.
Have fun with your dogs. Who else is always going to be crazy happy every time they lay their eyes on you, listen to you without judging and always be up for a game of fetch?