Taking on a new dog or puppy is always fun, but there are a number of things to think about and you should consider the dog’s needs as well as your own in ensuring that he suits the whole family.
Dogs need a lot of stimulation and exercise as well as regular toilet trips throughout the day, all of which can be quite a challenge if you are working full-time. They need a warm place to sleep and some space of their own for the appropriate times. It is vital to explain to children the importance that dogs (and other pets) need to be left alone some of the time, as well as ensuring that time is made available for supervised play.
If a dog is the pet for you, ensure you choose a breed that fits in with your lifestyle and in particular pick one that will enjoy the same level of exercise as you some need as much as several hours a day.
For dogs, early training and socialization at puppy classes helps them to develop confidence with both people/children and other dogs (who are both bigger and smaller than them).
Diets: good health also depends on feeding the right amount of an appropriate diet and your vet will advise on the correct life-stage diet, perfectly balanced for your dog throughout its life.
Vaccinations: puppies are usually protected in the first few weeks of life by antibodies from their mother’s milk. However, this immunity falls with time, leaving them susceptible to infectious diseases. Vaccinations (to stimulate this immunity) will help to protect dogs from a number of very serious infectious diseases. Two or more vaccines are normally given as an initial course giving your dog immunity for the first year of life. However, the immunity provided by this initial course is not indefinite and will gradually fall and regular boosters will be required throughout their life to maintain this immunity.
Vets recommend regular vaccinations against the following potentially fatal infectious diseases:
• Infectious canine hepatitis
• Parvo virus
• Para influenza virus
It is also important to treat puppies for roundworms since they can acquire these from their mothers early in life. Ticks and fleas can also be an irritating problem particularly with warmer winters and modern central heating systems ticks and fleas are no longer the seasonal summer problem they used to be. Instead the little horrors get onto your pet and into your home throughout the year causing problems ranging from sore bites to skin irritation, infections, hair loss and anaemia. You should ensure your pet and your home are kept parasite free. Worming your dog is another vital life-long treatment prevention really is better than cure!
Micro-chipping (see our previous article ‘It’s official CHIPS are good for pets’ July 2010) and pet insurance are also highly recommended by all vets. In an average year 1 in 3 pets suffer illness or injury, so unexpected veterinary bills can occur at any time; having the peace of mind of pet insurance relieves any financial worry.
You should also consider neutering your dog to ensure there are no unwanted litters speak to your vet about the health implications and the best time to do this.
Most of all though, good luck and enjoy your new addition to the family!
Chris Devlin is a Vet and Partner at Hillside Veterinary Centre in Corfe Mullen.
For more information visit www.hillsidevets.co.uk Follow us on facebook