General Puppy Health: Vaccinations, Fleas & Health Checks

Owning a pet brings a great deal of pleasure and whilst you will want yours to have a long, healthy and happy life, it is almost inevitable that your dog will need vaccinations or other forms of veterinary treatment at some point.

Veterinary practices and dog vaccinations

Puppies need to be taken to a vet for a health check and registered with the practice. Your vet will advise you on vaccinations, worming, microchipping and health issues. Puppies can receive their first vaccination from approximately eight weeks, but this will vary depending on the normal practice of your vet. Your vet will start your puppy on a course of vaccinations against the four main infectious diseases:

  • Canine Distemper
  • Hepatitis
  • Parvovirus
  • Leptospirosis

All of these diseases can be fatal, so after its first course of vaccinations, your puppy will need regular re-vaccination or, where appropriate, regular tests to see if vaccination is required (known as titre tests). Talk to your vet to see how often these are needed. Keep the dog vaccination certificates safe as you may need to show them when at boarding kennels, dog training classes or if you take your dog abroad. 

Until your puppy is fully vaccinated, you should not take it anywhere where it might come into contact with dogs or ground that may be infected, but you can take it out in your arms or the car to get it used to different places and situations. Your puppy will also need regular worming and treatment for fleas and ticks, so follow the advice of your vet. You may also want to have your dog vaccinated against Kennel Cough. Your vet can advise you on this.

Health checking your puppy

You need to check your puppy's body regularly for:

  • lumps
  • swellings
  • rashes
  • cuts
  • grass seeds etc

You will also need to keep a check on its:

  • teeth
  • gums
  • limbs
  • nails
  • dew claws
  • eyes
  • ears
  • and for testicular lumps
  • or for mammary lumps

So get your puppy used to being gently touched all over and examined on a daily basis.  This could be built into your regular grooming routine in order for you to regularly check for any changes to your puppy that may need vet attention.

Treating fleas in puppies

Fleas are usually pretty hard to spot unless there is a massive infestation and it's much easier to spot on white/pale coated dogs that on darker coats. They are small reddish jumping insects (about 1mm in diameter) but more often you will see the evidence of fleas like flea-dirts (the fleas's faeces) or signs associated with fleas such as:

  • sores
  • scabs
  • hair loss
  • inflammation
  • scratching etc

One way of confirmation is by collecting flea-dirts on damp cotton wool - if the cotton wool goes red then your puppy probably has fleas.

If you suspect your puppy has fleas, firstly make an appointment to have your puppy assessed by your vet to make sure it is fleas before treating your dog, as some other diseases display similar symptoms.  Do not try treating the infestation at home as you will just be wasting valuable time - time that the fleas are using to mass-reproduce.

Shop bought flea products, flea combs, flea collars, baby shampoo and even hand soap do not usually have any effect and may not be suitable for young  puppies, whereas treatment from your vet is much more effective and safe. You should also treat your house by using a household spray, as well as vacuuming the carpets, rugs and cleaning all the puppy's bedding.

Flea bites can quickly become infected painful areas of self-trauma and intense itching and skin infections are notoriously expensive to treat and can take some time to heal.  As well as skin infections, sometimes associated with fever, puppies can become ittitated and depressed which will affect their socialisation and sleep patterns.

Fleas can affect the whole household - other pets can become infested, human members of your family will start to get bitten and there is of course the expense of treating a flea infested house. The early detection and preferably prevention of an infestation is the key to keeping your puppy free of fleas.

Here's some additional information on common worms and flea control which will also be helpful to know more about - from our  Partners in Pet Nutrition - Eukanuba : 

Some common worms

  • Intestinal worms

There are different intestinal and other worms such as hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, tapeworms and lungworms that can affect your puppy's health. The worming treatment that your vet has prescribed ensures your puppy is protected from these parasites.

Worming is recommended at two, four, eight and 12 weeks and then monthly to keep your dog healthy and reduces the risk of worms transferring from your dog to you, your family and friends. 

  • Zoonotic diseases

Many intestinal worms that infect dogs can cause zoonotic diseases. Although the risk of contracting such infections is low, it is important to remember that zoonotic diseases can be transmitted from your pets to you and your family. Some parasites can cause serious illness and children are especially susceptible to zoonotic diseases.

Integrated flea control

  • Adult fleas only account for 5% of the total flea population.
  • The other 95% is made up of the eggs, larvae and pupae - they remain hidden waiting to develop and jump onto the dog!  For the best flea protection, all dogs in a household should be treated to stop the flea breeding cycle.

As a guide, an integrated flea-control program would consist of:

  • A flea adulticide to kill adult fleas on your dog. Use it at the start of a flea management program, then any time you notice fleas on your dog.
  • A flea protection treatment to break the flea lifecycle.  It stops adult fleas from producing viable eggs, and prevents flea larvae from developing into adults. Use once a month, all year round.
  • Cleaning measures such as frequent cleaning of floors and the dog's bedding, to further reduce the environmental flea population.

If you are concerned, speak to your vet for further advice.


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