Your new puppy: Caring for the newest member of the family

If you have just got a new puppy or are thinking about a new puppy, it is important to be aware of what is needed to have a healthy puppy.


Although you may think caring for a dog is expensive, the cost of not caring may be a lot worse…  Caring for your canine friend is very easy, once you know what you need to do…    The first year is the most important in terms of health care, as puppies haven’t yet developed a strong immune system and are actively growing.




Vaccinating your pet against the common diseases/viruses  such as ‘parvo virus’, will  save you money in the long term by preventing the disease.

To ensure adequate protection against parvo virus it is important to commence a vaccination program from as early as 6 weeks of age and carry through with the program until it has finished at 14-16 weeks of age.  The puppy course consists of 3 injections 3-4 weeks apart.  In high risk areas, such as Emerald and the Central Highlands, a 3rd booster at 14 -16 weeks is highly recommended

The standard (core) vaccination that is recommended at Gray St Veterinary Clinic is called a ‘C4’ in dogs.  This vaccine prevents against

      • Canine Hepatitis (Viral Liver disease)
      • Canine Distemper Virus  (Viral Brain disease)
      • Parvovirus (Viral Vomiting and Diarrhoeal disease)
      • Parainfluenza Virus (Viral Influenza – not Kennel Cough)

You also have the option of vaccinating against other diseases such as Kennel Cough, Tetanus and Leptospirosis.

Kennel Cough is a  highly infectious respiratory virus, transmitted between unvaccinated dogs within close contact (typically within kennels – hence the name).  A  ‘C5’ vaccination prevents against the core diseases mentioned above, as well as ‘Bordetella Brochiseptica’ (the causal agent of Kennel cough).   This vaccination is not a requirement unless you intend to place your dog in boarding kennels,  however be aware roaming dogs with Kennel Cough may still transmit the virus to your unvaccinated dog that is within its yard if it comes in contact with the infected dog.

Tetanus is caused by Clostridia tetani, a bacteria that causes muscle contraction resulting in general stiffness of the entire body.  Dogs can get tetanus from an infected wound caused by a penetrating metal or wooden object, pig wound or dog fight.   Properties that have had cases of tetanus in cattle or horses are at greater risk and all animals should be vaccinated for Tetanus including dogs and cats if there has been a previous outbreak.

Leptospriosis and Coronavirus vaccine is also available for dogs. Lepto is spread by rodents and areas with lots of water laying around, dogs at higher risk of getting Lepto are dogs that run in and around cane farms, banana farms, and headlands of cotton farms.

Food for thought…..

The money spent on vaccinating your pup/dog is only 1/12th of the money spent treating a sick dog with Parvo….if they survive….



The first thing to understand about heartworm is that it is very different to all the other intestinal worms.  Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitoes, as tiny worm larvae, into the bloodstream.  The larvae may circulate in the blood stream and may not cause heartworm until it finds a mate to have more heartworm larvae (this requires another bite by another mosquito to transmit a second heartworm larva into the blood stream).  Once this occurs the worm embed themselves into the heart chambers and begin reproducing more worms.  When numerous worms are embedded into the heart chambers the passage of blood becomes blocked, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood around the body, this eventually creates heart dysfunction, which leads to heart failure if left undiagnosed and untreated.

Unlike intestinal worms, Heartworm is not easily identified in the dog until it is too late.  Signs of heartworm in a dog are similiar to that of a dog with heart failure; cough when laying down, abdominal enlargement and reduced exercise.  At this point heartworm treatment is not recommended because a massive kill of the heartworms will cause a clot or blockage within the heart and the dog may have a heart attack and die.  This is why it is recommended Heartworm is best prevented from an early age and continued for the life of the dog.  Using a preventative in an older dog without any prior prevention used can result in a severe reaction that can be fatal in some dogs.  Therefore testing for Heartworm before using preventatives is essential. At Gray Street Vet clinic we recommend an annual injection to protect against Heartworm, this injection is called ”Proheart’, and requires initial injection at 3 months (12 weeks) of age and a booster at 6 months, which then progresses to once yearly injection usually coinciding with your annual parvo booster.  Other forms of heartworm protection exist as monthly spot-on (at the back of the neck) and monthly tablets.  These treatments often come in combination heartworm and/or intestinal wormer and/or flea control.  Discuss with our staff which is the best treatment for you and your four legged friend.



There are numerous different worms that may inhabit the intestine of dogs. These worms can be loosely grouped into 4 major categories; hookworms, whipworms, tapeworms and roundworms.   It is beneficial when purchasing worming products for your puppy, to know what their habits are;  for example,  dogs that tend to eat lizards and geckos will be more prone to contracting a particular tapeworm known as the “zipper” tapeworm, which is not usually covered by most wormers (even though it may state it is effective against tapeworm).

The key to worming your dog successfully is knowing what your wormer targets and how often you should be giving it. 

“A high burden of hookworm can be fatal”

Your pup needs worming

  • Every 2 weeks until 3 months of age
  • Every month until 6 months of age
  • Every 3 months as a mature adult

Signs of high worm burden in dogs are:

  • pot belly appearance
  • pale gums
  • lethargy
  • weight loss
  • seeing worms in the stools.


Remember ……..  Heartworm is different to all the intestinal worms – so an ‘ALLWORMER’ does not always cover Heartworm.



The most important tick to be concerned about is the Paralysis tick—found in certain areas of Queensland—mainly coastal regions and national parks. This tick can be fatal if left untreated.  At present the Emerald and most of the Central Highlands are considered free of Paralysis Tick, but if you are unsure ring Gray St Vet Clinic to find out if your dog has a paralysis tick.  The easiest way to identify a paralysis tick from a brown dog tick or cattle tick is by looking at the position of its legs; A paralysis tick will have legs that come out at its head where as the others have legs that come off around its body (see picture above). When removed a paralysis tick will leave a large crater in the dog’s skin, other ticks may leave a red swelling but will not leave a hole in the skin.

Clinical signs of paralysis tick bite are:

  • wobbly /weak back legs
  • changed voice/bark
  • lethargy and paralysis

If identified early, paralysis tick can be easily treated.

Other ticks, such as bush tick, are only a problem in large infestations—where they are sucking excessive amounts of blood causing anemia (loss of blood).


Fleas are generally more of a problem in the warmer months, but to ensure your dog is comfortable year round, you should always have some sort of flea prevention handy.  In large numbers fleas can cause lethargy and blood loss as well as significant distress and scratching.  In some dogs, one single flea can cause flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) which is an allergic reaction to the saliva of the flea, this may create an intense scratching behaviour and hair loss at the site of the bite.  Dogs with FAD may not have fleas when you look through its coat, but you cannot rule this out because remember they only need the one flea to bite them to react.



If you are not intending to breed with your pet, getting them castrated or speyed, has many long term advantages.

Desexing males:

  • reduced roaming
  • reduced aggressive behaviours
  • reduces frequent territorial urination
  • prevents testicular cancer
  • decreases the risk of prostate infection (prostatitis)
  • decreases the risk of prostate cancer
  • decreases the risk of constipation due to enlarged prostate
  • decreases the number of unwanted pregnancies
  • decreases the unfortunate euthanasia of unwanted puppies .

Desexing females

  • prevents unwanted oestrus signs e.g vaginal bleeding
  • reduces aggressive behaviour
  • reduces risk of mammary cancer
  • prevents infection of the uterus (pyometra)
  • eliminates unwanted pregnancies
  • decreases the unfortunate euthanasia of unwanted puppies .

The earliest possible time you can have your puppy, male or female, desexed is 6 months old.


A good quality diet is another important factor to consider when purchasing your new pet.   There are a lot of different varieties of varying quality and price.

Things to consider when purchasing dog food:

  1. Is the food correct for the dog’s life stage: i.e if you have a puppy, ensure you purchase a ‘puppy’ diet
  2. Is the food correct for the dog’s breed: i.e large breed pups like great danes should eat a diet designed for large breed puppies
  3. Price; if you think the food is cheap, than consider the quality of food within will be likewise
  4. Dry/wet; this is entirely up to you, but remember wet feed is 80-90% water, most good nutrition is actually obtained from dry kibble

If thinking about making home food / organic foods, ensure you do a bit of research as to what foods are best reccomended and what foods should be avoided.

Here are just a few things to be aware of

  • a diet consisting purely of raw meat is low in calcium, and can lead to conditions like rickets, where bone density is poor and bones may readily fracture
  • Changing of diet regularly may lead it inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Avoid toxic foods (see below)
  • 100% wet food diet, can increase progression of periodontal disease
  • A small cookie is equivalent to 1 Hamburger or 57g bar of chocolate
  • 28g Cheese is equivalent to 2.5 Hamburgers or 1.5 x 57g bars of chocolate
  • 1 hot dog is equivalent to 3 Hamburgers or 2 x 57g bars of chocolate


  • Avocado – contain a toxin that may cause intestinal irritation, causing vomiting and diarrhoea.
  • Daily consumption of raw egg whites – (with out egg yolk) interfere with absorbtion of Vitamin B,  leading to poor growth, lethargy and dermatitis.  Raw eggs may also contain salmonella.
  • Macadamia Nuts –  can cause locomotory problems such as weakness, tremors, or paralysis of the hindlegs.  toxic dose can be as little as 1 nut per kg of dog.
  • Chocolate –  contains theobromine, which is a heart and nervous system stimulant.  ingestion can lead to arrhythmias, tremors and seizures
  • Onion – and garlic – cause damage to the membranes of red blood cells that result in a haemolytic anemia (lack of blood due to red blood cell destruction).  Signs develop several days after ingestion, include breathlessness, weakness, and blood coloured urine.
  • Sultanas and Raisins – may lead to acute kidney failure in dogs.



Puppies will grow into their adult teeth usually by 6 months of age, it is important to check their teeth around this time to see if any deciduous (baby) teeth are still remaining, as this may require extraction.  A good time for this to occur is when they are being desexed, as teeth extractions require a general anaesthetic.

Diets comprising wet food are considered more prone to developing periodontal disease, thus providing kibble and dental stick aid prevention of periodontal disease by providing something to gnaw on.  It is important to avoid cooked bones at all costs, raw bones are acceptable, but it is important to get the correct size of bone for the size of the dog.  Avoid all bones that have pointy parts and could potentially be bitten off and swallowed potentially risking intestinal perforation or blockage.  Most dogs are safe with raw chicken necks or wings, but confer with us at Gray St Vet Clinic.

It is important to look into your dog’s mouth regularly particularly if it has a smelly breath or is not eating its food.  Just like us bad teeth will fall out, cause a painful infection, the dog may loose weight dramatically and may lead to kidney failure.


At Gray St Veterinary clinic we can answer any questions you have about you best friend.We offer helpful veterinary advice to ensure your pet has a long healthy life by your side.