The first 12 weeks of owning a puppy: Vaccinations
Deciding to become a dog owner is one of the biggest and most exciting decisions you will make, it will change your life in so many ways and once you have one you will be hooked!
Whether you have decided to buy a puppy from a breeder or take one from a rescue centre, your puppy may be as young as 6-8 weeks when you take them home and these are a few things you need to do and know to look after the new addition to your family.
Young dogs, just like human babies, need protection against the common diseases. Their mother passes on some protection in the early days, but this needs strengthening with a timed vaccination course. Puppies need an initial course of two vaccinations; some will be 3-4 weeks apart, as well as yearly boosters. The vaccinations protect against a variety of potentially life threatening infectious liver and kidney diseases – Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Para- Influenza and Leptospirosis. A separate vaccination, to protect against kennel cough, may be recommended by your vet; it is administered up the nose, so the puppy inhales as it needs to stay in the nasal cavity. Your vet will give you a vaccination certificate once the initial course is completed to show the up to date vaccination status of your puppy. You must keep the certificate in a safe place, as it will be needed if your pet needs to go into kennels.
Ideally a puppy should not be housebound, as it is important for it to be sociable and confident with people and other animals. Trips to the pet shop, post-office, school run and friend’s houses can be a part of life – just ensure your puppy is carried if there is a possibility of unvaccinated dogs having been in the area.
Do not take your puppy out for walks until the initial course of vaccinations is complete and your vet tells you it is safe to do so. There will be a 1-2 week wait from the second injection before the puppy can be safely walked outside.
It is also very important to protect your puppy against parasites such as tapeworms, roundworms, fleas and ticks and your vet can prescribe a good parasite prevention protocol. Some worms can be transmitted in utero and via the mother’s milk, so a timed programme of worming should be carried out in the early days.
Many puppies are fascinated with slugs and snails, but they can carry a parasite called lungworm ( Angiostrongylus Vasorum ) which is becoming more common in the UK. It causes a multitude of signs, including coughing and weight loss, but it can cause many more problems and can be fatal. The puppy does not have to actually eat the slug or snail to contract the disease, but can be infected by simply licking the trail left behind, so be aware of trails on toys and play objects left in the garden. Your vet will prescribe a preventative treatment so that your puppy is protected. To simplify things a number of treatments for all of the above are combined into one or two treatments.
You should also have your puppy microchipped, both for proof of ownership and so that it is easier to find a lost or stolen pet. It is also a good idea to ensure your details are registered with a good database, such as PetLog. Remember to keep these details up to date with any changes of address and telephone numbers and keep the microchip number handy. It is also good to stay ahead of the game as it has been proposed that microchipping will become a legal requirement from 2016.
If you are considering adopting a puppy it is important to know about the vaccination process to keep your new pet safe and healthy.