There will be a lot of information given to you over the next couple of months about puppy care in Coffs Harbour, and it can be overwhelming, so the first rule is – never to be afraid to ask and ask again if you’re unsure. The vet will give you a lot of information at the vaccination consultation, but remember, the nurses are a great resource on puppy care and behaviour and will be happy to talk you through anything you’re unsure about.
Your vet will recommend vaccination depending on the diseases prevalent in the area. For example, in the Coffs Harbour area, we recommend a “C3” (core vaccine protecting against parvovirus, hepatitis and distemper) or “C5” (C3 plus parainfluenza and Bordetella bronchiseptica, known as “kennel cough”).
At our clinics, we recommend three puppy “core” vaccinations. One at 6-8 weeks (check with the previous owner as this may have already been given, please provide the vet with details if you have them). The second and third vaccinations should be at about 12 and 16 weeks of age. If you would like your puppy vaccinated against kennel cough, which we do recommend, this is usually given as an intranasal dose with the third vaccination. Lastly, your puppy will require a booster in 12 months after these primary vaccinations.
In NSW, it is the legal responsibility of the owner of any animal changing ownership for it to be microchipped. If your puppy has not been microchipped already, you must do so as soon as possible. This applies even if you don’t plan to register your puppy immediately in case of loss or theft. Also, any registered person can implant a microchip – all of our vets and some of our nurses are registered. The cost of microchipping does not include council registration – the microchip details will be passed on to the council by the registered person, and you will receive a notification to register your pet from the council. Lastly, the registration fees in NSW are for your dog’s lifetime and are substantially cheaper for desexed dogs. Contact Coffs Harbour City Council for the current fees.
Intestinal worming should start at 2 weeks, so check with the previous owner when they last wormed your pet. We recommend intestinal worming every two weeks until 12 weeks, then every month until 6 months.
For the best puppy care, starting heartworm prevention by 12 weeks of age is essential. There are many options. The most reliable and convenient option is Proheart SR-12, given as an injection from 3 months of age. Other options include monthly tablets, some of which are available in combination with other chemicals to cover ticks, fleas and other worms. There are so many to choose from that it is best to discuss this with the vet in the vaccination consultation to decide the best choice for your puppy.
Check your new puppy for fleas before taking it home if you can. Giving a fast-acting flea treatment early (such as Capstar or a flea rinse) can prevent flea infestations in your house.
Many tick and flea products are on the market, and your vet or nurse can advise you on which is best for your needs. Currently, the most reliable products are those that use chemicals in the isoxazoline group; this includes Bravecto, Credilio, Nexgard and Simparica.
We recommend that all pet dogs are desexed. Desexing should be performed between 4 and 6 months of age. These routine surgical procedures do not usually require an overnight stay in the hospital.
The cost of a desexing procedure at this age is heavily discounted to encourage all owners to protect their pets against unnecessary problems. In addition, registering your desexed dog with the council costs a lot less than an entire (non-desexed) dog, making the procedure a very affordable choice for everyone.
Desexing male dogs early can help prevent dominant behavioural problems and escape attempts and testicular tumours and prostate problems later in life.
In addition, desexing female dogs early prevents unwanted pregnancies and difficult births and lowers the risk of your dog trying to escape or running away and male dogs trying to get into your yard. Plus, desexing prevents health problems seen in entire females, such as pyometra (a life-threatening emergency condition) and reduces the occurrence of issues seen in entire or late-desexed females, such as mammary tumours and cancers.
As part of your puppy care strategy, we recommend Pet Insurance. Unfortunately, the majority of pet owners overlook pet insurance. Consequently, many owners do not have the money readily available in an emergency (such as a dog attack, tick paralysis or hit by a car) or with a chronic disease (such as diabetes, cancer or heart disease) for treatment. Sadly, these owners may have to opt for sub-optimal care or, in some instances, euthanasia.
Although pet insurance plans may sound expensive initially, consider how much money your previous pet (or a friend’s pet) has cost in vet bills that a policy might have covered.
When choosing a pet insurance plan, consider whether the following things are essential to you:
LIFELONG COVER– some plans will only cover your pet to a certain age (e.g. nine years). Is your pet likely to live longer than this? If the answer is yes, it is a good idea to pick a plan that does not exclude pets once they reach a certain age. Just like us, health problems are more likely in elderly pets.
BREED CONDITIONS/EXCLUSIONS – some plans will have exclusions based on your dog’s breed. This is because some dog breeds are genetically prone to specific problems. For example, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are quite likely to develop heart disease, Golden Retrievers are predisposed to hip dysplasia, Staffordshire Bull Terriers are prone to skin disease, and Dachshunds are prone to spinal problems. So, this means that any problems that are excluded based on your dog’s breed are the problems they are more likely to develop, so a comprehensive plan without exclusions may be a better choice.
DISEASE/ILLNESS COVER – cheaper plans may only offer accidental injury cover. So, for example, if your dog is hit by a car or bitten by a snake, they may be covered, but if your dog develops diabetes, skin complaints, ear infections, or kidney disease, they probably won’t be. It is also essential to choose a plan that covers lifelong illness, as some plans will only cover the first six months or a year after diagnosis.
TICK PARALYSIS – believe it or not, some pet insurance policies may not cover tick paralysis or have relatively low limits. However, this exclusion could be in the small print, so always check that tick paralysis is covered. After all, in the Coffs Harbour area, this is probably the most likely issue for which you will need to claim.
LIMITS AND EXCESS – this is down to personal choice. The cost of your policy will often depend on how much excess you are willing to pay and how much cover you expect. Very high limits may only be necessary to cover referral to a specialist for expensive or complicated cases. Suppose you have a high limit on your policy. In that case, you may elect for some surgeries or issues to be tackled by a specialist rather than a first-opinion vet, so let your vet know if your pet is insured and ask whether a specialist opinion would be of benefit.
EXTRAS – again, this is a personal choice, but some plans offer money back on routine procedures such as desexing, vaccinations and heartworm treatments up to a certain amount per year. It’s up to you whether you think you would rather pay for these things separately.
Behavioural training and socialisation should start early, and puppy preschool classes are a great way to do this.
In puppy classes, your dog will learn to interact socially with other dogs, play with you without biting, and follow basic commands such as sit, drop, stay, and come. Once you learn HOW to teach your dog, any other commands you decide to teach them is up to you!
Puppy classes are a great opportunity to ask questions or raise any concerns about all aspects of owning a dog. Plus, it’s a great idea to bring your children too, so they can learn how to play with your dog. Furthermore, you may wish to follow this up with more behaviour or agility training, which is excellent exercise and fun for you and your dog.
Ask our nurses for more information about classes near you.