Puppy Love - Caring for a New Puppy

Now that Santa has given you a playful, pouncing, pup, what are you going to do with it? Do you know how to care for it properly and about its vaccinations, worming and other health care needs?

Perhaps now is a good time to go through some of the basics of puppy care.


Dogs can be and should be vaccinated against the diseases commonly called Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus and Canine Cough.

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 parvovirus 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. This is usually a four-in-one vaccination. However, a fifth component can be added too. The four components are to give protection against the diseases distemper, hepatitis and parvovirus and against parainfluenza infections. The fifth component is to give protection against the Bordetella bacterium. The parainfluenza virus and the Bordetella bacterium are the two bugs which cause canine cough.

Typically, your vet will 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.


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 heartworm preventive from eight weeks of age. While the  daily medication containing Diethylcarbamazine Citrate, or DEC for short was the first heartworm 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 heartworm 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 vaccinations.

Intestinal Worms

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

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

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 onwards, worm it every three months.

If your pup is on the monthly heartworm preventive that includes an intestinal wormer, then it will help control worm infections. However, the monthly heartworm 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..

Flea Control 

They're a hopping nuisance! Thankfully, though, flea control is easier nowadays than it used to be. You can use monthly flea control preparations, such as Advantage, Frontline Plus, Advantix, Advocate, Sentinel or Revolution. 

Ask your veterinarian or Pets Unleashed pet care professional 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 faeces produced is small and the faeces are well formed and easy to pick up from the garden.


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.  If you're in Brisbane, we recommend Urban Dog Training.  If not, try your local dog trainer, local vet or the RSPCA.

You should start training as early as possible.

Related Information

Pets Unleashed New Puppy Checklist 

Why You Should Crate Train Your Puppy