If you have a playful, pouncing, pup, you are sure to be asking what are you going to do with it? How do you care for it properly?  What vaccinations are needed and when? What about its other health care needs?

All you need to know is below.


Dogs can be and should be vaccinated against the diseases commonly called Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus and Canine Cough. Some need to be vaccinated against other diseases as well.

Some variation in vaccination schedules exists, but a useful guide is that your pup should be given its first vaccination at six to eight weeks of age. Your vet will most likely use a three-in-one vaccine, containing distemper, measles and parvo virus strain. The measles component is added to give better protection against distemper. This is necessary because the pup may have immunity from its mother (maternal immunity) which may inactivate the distemper vaccine.

Your vet will usually give the next vaccination at 12 to 14 weeks of age although there are new vaccines available which can give full immunity to pups by 10 weeks of age.

The second vaccines are to give protection against the diseases distemper, hepatitis and parvo virus and against para influenza infections. The fifth component is to give protection against the Bordetella bacterium. The para-influenza virus and the Bordetella bacterium are the two bugs which cause canine cough.

In some cases your vet may advise that a third vaccination be given at approximately 16 weeks of age, especially if you want to guarantee your pup’s protection against canine cough and parvovirus.

If you want the best protection currently available, ensure your dog is vaccinated against all five diseases. Because vaccination schedules depend on the area in which you live, the health status of your pup and the type of vaccine used, you need to follow the advice of your veterinarian closely as to when vaccination boosters are needed.


Heartworm disease has been around for years. Thankfully, due to modern heartworm preventive medications, the disease is a lot less common than it used to be.

You should start your pup on heart worm preventive from eight weeks of age. While the  daily medication containing Diethylcarbamazine Citrate, or DEC for short was the first heart worm preventative on the market and has saved the life of millions of dogs, most dogs owners have moved on from that preparation now and are using one of several varieties of monthly heartworm preventatives or the newer Once-A-Year heart worm preventative injection.  The Once-A-Year injection is the most convenient form as you don’t have to rely on your memory and it can be tied in with your pet’s yearly health-care check.

Intestinal Worms

Hookworms and roundworms are the commonest worms found in pups, but they can also become infected with tapeworms and whip worms.

Worms commonly kill puppies, so don’t take the matter too lightly.

Worm your pup when you get it and then every two weeks until it is three months old. From then to six months of age, worm it every month and from six months of age onward, worm it every three months.

If your pup is on the monthly heart worm preventive that includes an intestinal wormer, then it will help control worm infections. However, the monthly heart worm medications do not necessarily kill all the intestinal worms that your pet can suffer from. Therefore, worming every three to six months is still important. There are now many alternatives available for intestinal worm prevention and you should consult your veterinarian for tailor-made program.

Flea and Tick Control 

They’re a hopping nuisance! Thankfully, though, flea control is easier nowadays than it has ever been. New flea control products are regularly being produced and there are so many good alternatives you should ask your veterinarian for more advice.


Feeding your dog a balanced diet is a basic, but important matter. Puppies under three months of age should be fed three to four times per day. This can be reduced to two to three times per day at three months and gradually reduced to twice daily feeding until six months of age.

To ensure you are giving a proper balanced and quality diet, you may want to feed your pup on the “super-premium” pet foods that are available from veterinarians and pet shops.

These foods are highly digestible and balanced for each stage of the animal’s life. Specific diets exist for puppies. The high digestibility means that the volume of feces produced is small and the feces are well formed and easy to pick up from the garden.

If you have a large fast-growing breed of dog, your vet is likely to advise a large-breed diet which is needed to ensure proper bone growth.


Don’t forget that your puppy will need training to be a well-behaved pooch. You should start training as early as possible. One of the best things you can do with your pup is to take it to a puppy preschool at your local vets or at the RSPCA.

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Dr Cam Day

Dr Cam Day

Vet Behavioralist

Dr Cam Day is a Veterinarian consulting full-time in pet behaviour in South-East Queensland, Australia.