Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Caring for the new puppy in your household

Today was one of those "what everyone thinks vet work is all about" days.  That is, I spent my morning kissing, hugging and overall playing with some beautiful new puppies. 

Four of them, to be exact, all in for their first vet visit, at the time of their second vaccination.

And after a full vet check, and discussion with each of these new owners, I realised that some of these pet owners had sought puppy care advice from a pet shop or produce store,  and not their local vet.  

And, what was even more troublesome, was when we raised important questions with them over Heartworm prevention and worming and diet, we heard a lot of things which weren't entirely correct.

With this, comes confusion, and, unfortunately, a big question mark as the new owners ponder who should they believe. The produce store or the vet?

It would be arrogant of me to say that the vet is always right, because this simply isn't true.  If you read my story about my dog, Burek, you can see that the vet isn't always right. 

If you know of anyone who has a new puppy, or is thinking of getting a new puppy (or kitten, for that matter), encourage them to ask their local vet and helpful vet nurses for advice instead of the pet shop.

Your puppy's first vet check:

This should happen within 48 hours of the new one joining your household.

At this vet check, we thoroughly check your pet over, and make sure that there are no "hidden" diseases, such as dental problems, ear mites or extra eyelashes.

Your puppy's preventative care program.

Intestinal worming can be given on its own, or as a combination with Heartworm prevention.

Intestinal worming tablets only:

All puppies should be wormed each two weeks until they are twelve weeks old.

Then, it is monthly until they are six months old.

Then it is each three months thereafter.

We often use this protocol in dogs who we intend to start on Proheart SR-12 injection (the Heartworm injection) at 12 weeks of age.

1. True or False: All worming tablets are the same.

Or you could consider the intestinal worming/Heartworm prevention combination tablets

All puppies and dogs need this monthly for the rest of their lives.

This could be the monthly tablet (we use Milbemax) or a once a month topical (we recommend Advocate)

We need to worm against Roundworm, Hookworm, Whipworm and Flea & Hydatid tapeworm AND prevent Heartworm disease.

We also recommend worming your puppy yourselves when it enters your household, even if the breeder or pet shop wormed them the day before.

2. True or False:  There is a three monthly Heartworm prevention tablet.

Heartworm Prevention:

All puppies should have their Heartworm prevention protocol started by 12 weeks of age.

Heartworm is spread by infected mosquitoes, and we know the incidence of Heartworm is on the increase (thanks to the Qld floods of a few years back, coupled with complacency of many pet owners).

We do not recommend nor use "Heartworm only"  tablets, as in this day and age, there are more economical combination medications.

You should not wait until six months old to start, in fact, it is wrong to wait that long, as your pup then has had six months to get infected, and most medications will only "reach back" 2 to 3 months.

(Reach back means that a treatment given today will kill any heartworm larvae that was injected into the skin up to "x" months previously.  With Proheart SR-12, the reach back is 3 months, with monthly medications, it is about six weeks (depending on what you use). )

3. True or False: My dog does not need Heartworm prevention until they are six months old.

Flea Control:

Many flea and tick products cannot be used in puppies less than 8 weeks of age, but then again, many can.

Advantage can be used from weaning (4 weeks on), Revolution and Frontline (Plus and Original) from 8 weeks of age.

 Frontline or Frontera spray can be used as young as 2 days old.


We know that you want your pet to be healthy and happy.  And we know that you know that your pet's nutrition is important to you.  You often do a lot of reading and listening to people about what to feed.  If I was ever to get into an argument with a pet owner, it is usually over diet.

And the owner who said to me that "you don't sell pet foods, therefore you don't know anything" is only half right.  I don't sell  "wellness pet foods", but I do know a lot about pet nutrition. T

In fact, I can guarantee that the information I do possess on pet nutrition does not come from a pet food salesman.  The information I have comes from  independent veterinary nutritionists, and is  based on science, not salespeople.

4. True or False:  The food must be OK if it has a picture of a vet on it

My general tips are:
Please avoid anything that involves feeding of mince or pet mince - even if it says "preservative free".

The Australian pet food industry is not regulated, and as such, many pet foods are sold which are not "balanced" and are actually harmful.  They may cause thiamine deficiency (neurological signs including blindness), Acquired Proximal Renal Tubulopathy (kidney disease), not to mention the other more common ones, such as food poisoning (salmonella).

Keep your pet's diet simple and complete. 

For my position on pet foods, read here and how choosing the wrong food can affect your pet, read here.


As a pet owner myself, I do understand the confusion of other pet owners, when you hear one thing, and then hear another- who do you believe?  In the perfect world, we would believe those who have worked and studied hard to become the local experts in their chosen profession, but we do not live in a perfect world, do we.

Just know this... as a vet, I want all of my pets (that means your pet) to live forever, or as close to forever that is humanly possible.  And I will forever strive to ensure I give you and your pet the best and most current information on everything.

I am Dr Liz, the mad vet from Russell Vale Animal Clinic. 

Answers to Questions.
1. False. Allwormers are not necessarily "All wormers."
2. False. Heartworm prevention tablets need to be given monthly to be able to kill off the larval stages of the parasite.  These tablets can only kill off the larvae before they have a chance to migrate into the heart itself.  Once the worms are in the heart, maturing away, it is too late.
3. False.  We have a very small window in which to kill the Heartworm parasite after it is injected by an infected mosquito. If the puppy was bitten by an infected mosquito during the third week of its life, by the time it is six months old, the larval stages would have progressed too far for the Heartworm prevention to be effective.
4. False. "Vet approved" doesn't really mean that all veterinarians approve of it. The terms "holistic" "organic" etc are over used aswell.  Remember that the pet food industry is poorly regulated in Australia, so anybody can claim anything, and there is nothing to stop this from happening.

PS.  If you need some help on buying pet products from the supermarket, well I have covered that too. Why not head over to read all about that now.