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Puppy Care

Owning a puppy will be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding things you will ever do.

To enjoy all the benefits of owning a dog, it is vital you take the steps to ensure they stay healthy and happy.

While it's exciting bringing a new puppy home, remember the environment is new and your pup may be very apprehensive or scared. Act calm, not too rowdy, and provide a warm, soft and cosy area for your pup to feel secure. Certainly a toy or two will help in these early days, as well as an item with familiar scents i.e. a towel/blanket that smells like your pup's mother.

Feed your pup their current diet for the first week before aiming to integrate a premium quality puppy food. Wet food is fine but it is also beneficial to feed a high quality kibble too, as it's much better for your pup's teeth! Keep the diet consistent as transitional diarrhoea can occur.

Feed your pup four times per day until 12 weeks of age, then three times daily until they're five - six months old. Once or twice a day is fine from then on.

Premium puppy food is recommended as it is full of the right nutrients in the right proportions, unlike many supermarket foods. The quality of your pup's food can be reflected in the condition of their coat.

Keep your pup on a puppy or growth diet until they're 12 months of age before switching to an adult dog food. Large breed dogs such as German Shepherds, Ridgebacks, Great Danes etc. may stay on puppy food until 18 months old.

There are certain foods that are dangerous (and occasionally fatal) to dogs and should be avoided in their daily diet. These include: cooked bones, onions, grapes, sultanas, avocado, lily plants, coffee/tea, alcohol, chocolate and too much high energy human food such as barbecued or cured meats.

Avoid feeding your puppy table scraps, particularly right from the table. This can lead to behavioural problems like begging or stealing from the table. Additionally, since table scraps are usually high in calories, they may cause unwanted weight gain.

TIP: After a pup is weaned from their mother, there is no need to give milk. Fresh water is far better and helps with digestion.

Puppies are at risk of a number of serious diseases, including parvovirus, distemper and hepatitis among others. These diseases are debilitating and can be fatal so vaccinating against them is vital. Your vet will guide you on the right vaccination regime for your pup.

The first vaccination is generally given at six - eight weeks of age, 12 weeks for the second vaccination and 14 - 16 weeks of age for the final vaccination. Boosters are then recommended yearly.

Excluding taking your puppy to the vet, it's a good ideato keep them at home until they are fully vaccinated; however you can introduce your puppy to other dogs if you know they are fully vaccinated, as it is important to get in as much socialisation as possible in the first 14 - 16 weeks of life.

If your local PETstock store offers a PETstock VET service you can get your pup vaccinated conveniently in store.

Your puppy should be treated for intestinal worms every two weeks until 12 weeks of age, then every four weeks until six months of age. After six months, worming should continue every three months for life.

The most common intestinal worms include roundworm, hookworm, tapeworm and whipworm.

TIP: 'All wormers' are a good way to protect your pup from all types of intestinal worms. Remember, worms can transfer from dogs to humans, so be diligent - especially if you have children.

Fleas carry tapeworm and can cause severe scratching and allergic reactions, known as flea allergy dermatitis.

Use a good quality flea control product on a monthly basis, all year round. You can start from six - eight weeks of age and continue for life. There are many different treatments available which cover fleas, including combination products, which can also cover heartworm, ticks and worms.

PETstock team members will be able to recommend a suitable product for your puppy.

Heartworm is a parasite that lives in the heart and lungs of dogs and spread by mosquitos. This disease is usually fatal without treatment and contrary to popular belief, is present Australia wide.

It is vital to protect your dog against heartworm. Prevention comes in the form of yearly injections or monthly tablets, chewables and spot-ons.

TIP: Most 'all wormers' do not prevent heartworm, so check carefully and ensure your dog is protected.

A microchip is a permanent identification device implanted under the skin, allowing a quick and easy return if your puppy ever gets lost.

Pet microchipping is mandatory in most Australian states, so ask a petstock staff member or your local council if this is a requirement in your area.

Your pup can be microchipped at any age but the earlier the better. Microchipping is quick and easy, causing very little discomfort.

If your local petstock store offers a PETstock VET service you can get your dog microchipped conveniently in store.

TIP: It's essential to inform the microchip registry if you move, or your contact number changes.

As well as microchipping, it's a good idea to purchase an I.D tag for your puppy's collar, engraved with their name and your contact number. This will also increase their chance of finding their way home if they should get lost!

Training should start as early as possible (usually before 14-16 weeks of age) and is vital for a happy and healthy relationship between you and your pet. Dogs are pack animals and are used to a social hierarchy. Set your rules and stick to them. You should be fair, firm and consistent but most of all you must become the dominant pack leader.

TIP: Puppy Pre-School is offered at most petstock stores. It's a great, fun way to socialise and train your pup in a group environment. Speak to your vet about what age your pup can start walking on a leash and mixing with other dogs.

Due to various health and behaviour problems it is highly recommended your puppy is de-sexed at five - six months of age. De-sexing can help reduce the risk of health problems such as mammary cancer and uterine infections particularly in female dogs. De-sexing will not change the personality of your puppy.