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Dog Care

Dog Care


Your dog will bring a great deal of fun and happiness into your life. Dogs are wonderful companions, and your dog will give you love and friendship, but it needs you to take responsibility for keeping it fit, healthy and happy.

First days in a new home

It will take your new dog a few days to accept that this is its new home. In this time, you should set up the routine that you will follow in future.

Making your house suit your pet

Prior to bringing your dog home, you will need to check that the boundaries of your property are secure, so that your new pet will not wander away. Suitable bedding in a warm place out of the weather should be prepared. Bedding that is easy to clean regularly is best. Water must always be available. To prevent injuries – make sure balconies, decks, etc. are safe. Make sure poisons are stored safely.

First 48 hours

You should take your pup to the vet for a health check within the first 48 hours. At this time make sure any questions you have are answered, including feeding, toileting, behaviour, worming, vaccination and desexing. This check is important – if your pup has a contagious disease or has been born with a problem that will need a lot of care and money, you want to know early. You can safely adopt a pup from 6 to 8 weeks of age. At 6-8 weeks of age, a pup should have been weaned, wormed, had its first vaccination and been microchipped.

Start your relationship with your dog the way you want it to go on.

Should a female dog be spayed?

Spaying (desexing) offers several advantages. The female’s oestrus (heat periods) result in about 2-3 weeks of vulval bleeding. This can be quite annoying if your dog is kept indoors. During this period she is attractive to any neighbourhood male dogs, and these can sometimes cause considerable nuisance. It is not advisable to walk your bitch at this time. Your bitch will have a heat period about every 6 months. In some cases, despite your best efforts, the bitch will become pregnant. Spaying is the removal uterus and ovaries. Heat periods no longer occur and thus unplanned litters of puppies are prevented.

It has been proved that as the bitch gets older, there is a significant incidence of breast cancer and uterine infections if she has not been spayed. Spaying before she has any heat periods will prevent these problems. If you do not plan to breed from your dog, we strongly recommend that she be spayed either just before her first oestrus, at around 5-6 months or midway between oestrus periods.


Breeding from your bitch and raising her puppies can be an extremely rewarding experience, or it may produce frustration and failure. Pet bitches are often torn between their instinctive desire to be with their puppies, and the routines they have acquired with their owners. This can lead to problems and should be borne in mind before breeding is contemplated. Also raising a litter of puppies is an extremely time-consuming exercise and one which should not be embarked upon without due consideration. If you plan to mate your dog, she should be allowed one or two heat periods first.

This will allow her to physically mature and then be a better mother without such a physical drain on her. Having a litter after 5 years of age increases the risk of problems during the pregnancy and/or delivery. Once your dog has had her last litter, it is worth considering spaying in order to prevent uterine infections and other reproductive problems. Should a mis-mating occur, then the pregnancy can be prevented by injections – but must start within 3 days of the mating or she can be desexed.

Should a male dog be desexed?


Desexing offers several advantages. Male dogs are attracted to a female dog in heat and will climb over or go through fences to find her. Male dogs are more aggressive and more likely to fight, especially with other male dogs. Male dogs like to urinate on everything to mark it as theirs. Male dogs masturbate. This can be very embarrassing. Male dogs are more dominant in their attitude to people. But this may not start until they are over two years old (maturity).

As dogs age, the prostate gland frequently enlarges and causes difficulty urinating and defecating. Desexing will solve, or greatly help, all of these problems that come with owning a male dog. The surgery can be performed any time after the dog is two months old. It is worth remembering that all service dogs, Guide Dogs, Hearing Dogs and Dogs for the Disabled, both male and female, are routinely desexed.


Diet is extremely important in a dog’s life, and

  • The diet should be nutritionally adequate, and
  • The diet should have physical qualities (texture, abrasiveness) that will help control plaque and maintain oral health.

Always check with the dog’s previous owner what the dog is used to eating.

Puppies have specific and quite different dietary needs from adult dogs. A high quality complete puppy food is available in both canned and dry forms. Puppies have very sensitive gastric systems and any new food should be introduced very gradually, particularly when weaning off bitch’s milk. Puppies should be completely weaned at eight weeks. Feed your puppy three times a day from eight weeks to four months and then twice a day to six months. Once your dog reaches adulthood, one meal per day is sufficient.

Feeding a dry, canned, or semi-moist form of dog food is acceptable. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Dry food is definitely the most inexpensive form and it can be left in the dog’s bowl without spoiling. Good brands of dry food are more nutritious than canned food. Canned food contains about 75% water compared with only 10% in dry food, so dry food is more economical. Diets consisting largely of soft foods, even if nutritionally complete, may be physically inadequate and favour development of periodontal disease. If you choose to give your puppy table scraps, be sure that at least 90% of its diet is good quality commercial puppy food. A pup needs 15 times more calcium than a human, so don’t kid yourself you can feed them the same.

Scheduled (rather than free choice) meals help with training and avoid setting up for weight problems in the future. Always call your dog when you are ready to feed him. Make sure he sits first before he gets fed.

When soft foods, including canned food, form the basis of your dog’s diet, control of dental plaque requires:

  • Regular raw bones such as chicken necks, chicken wings or brisket bones (no cooked bones) – always under supervision.
  • Regular supply of large biscuits, or long strips of meat, to encourage chewing.
  • Adding large pieces of raw fibrous vegetables or rawhide chew toys, or
  • Dental care such as daily rubbing or brushing of teeth and gums or adding breathalyser to your pet’s water.
  • Premium quality dry kibble has oral care dental defence in it to help clean teeth.

Registration and identification

Every dog must be registered with the local council after it is six months of age. Once registered, the dog must wear its identification at all times. When outside your property keep your dog on a leash which must be held by someone who can always control the dog.

Microchipping is required by law and is an excellent method of identification of your pet. If your animal strays from home, the Council pound and most veterinary surgeries can scan for the microchip and can contact the central registry and be advised the owner’s name and contact number. The central registry information includes an alternative contact which is very valuable if your pet has strayed, or if you are not at home.

Since July 1999, animals that are not microchipped are deemed “not owned” and do not have to be held by the Council pound.


Travel sickness, or motion sickness affects many dogs. It is due to the effect of the motion on the organs of balance located in the inner ear. Signs are usually excessive salivation, restlessness or excitement, sometimes vomiting.

Make sure the dog wears a correctly adjusted collar and not a check chain. Many dogs travel better when secured with a harness. If the dog is travelling unaccompanied, check that his name appears on the container together with your name, address, telephone number and other relevant details, such as when and where you are collecting him. Travel sickness prevention tablets are available from your vet – please ask.

There are publications that list hotels and boarding houses that allow pets. These publications can be reviewed at Menai Animal Hospital.

Boarding at Meadowmist Boarding Kennels

When you plan a vacation, we recommend that you arrange with us for your dog(s) to be comfortably boarded at Meadowmist Boarding Kennels. You bring your dog(s) here to Menai Animal Hospital in the morning and they are transported by air-conditioned van to Meadowmist. They are returned from Meadowmist late on the day you wish to pick them up. (Monday to Friday service.)

Meadowmist require you to complete a document identifying your dog and its requirements whilst boarding. By arrangement, dogs can receive “playtime” with a ball or frisbee. This is specially needed for active dogs. It is essential that all dogs in boarding kennels are fully vaccinated, including for kennel cough. These vaccinations must be current at the time of boarding (ie: carried out within the past twelve months, and preferably some weeks before boarding is planned). Bookings:  directly with Meadowmist – 9627 2395

Caring for elderly dogs

As dogs grow older, their bodies undergo significant change even though their behaviour may appear unaltered. Beyond age 5 to 7 is usually considered “senior” depending on a dog’s size and breed.

There are many problems found in middle-aged and older pets, such as:

  • Obesity
  • Kidney disease
  • Heart disease
  • Liver disease
  • Skin tumours
  • Arthritis
  • Tooth & gum disease
  • Behaviour changes
  • Impaired sight & hearing

The onset of many diseases can be delayed or treated successfully if they are detected early. Annual checkups by the veterinarian can keep your pet as healthy as possible. You may wish to arrange a blood test at this time as many diseases are undetectable by other means.

Barking control

Barking is a dog’s natural means of communication and often signifies its alertness to danger. However, some dogs continually bark at anything that moves and sometimes at nothing at all. It is your responsibility as a dog owner to make sure that your dog does not continually bark. If you or your neighbours have problems with your dog barking, consult with veterinary staff about what can be done to assist.

Bathing and grooming

Regular grooming is a must to keep your dog looking and feeling its best. Naturally, long-haired breeds require brushing more frequently than short-haired dogs. Always pay attention to areas that mat easily, for example, behind the ears. Dogs require the occasional bath, particularly in summer, but consistent and regular bathing, more than once a month, is not usually necessary. The main question is whether they are so dirty that a bath is needed. Never use domestic detergent or disinfectant on your dog, but use dog shampoos (and conditioners). Your dog’s bedding should be washed whenever you wash your dog.


Check weekly. Ears should be clean and dry. Beware of fly worry to ears. You may need to apply insect repellent. Wipe outer ears with a tissue or swab. If there is a smell or discharge, take your dog to the vet.


Young dogs can have very sharp toe nails. They can be blunted and shortened using an emery board or a piece of carpenter’s fine sandpaper. They can also be trimmed with nail scissors or with clippers made for dogs and cats. If you remove too much nail, you will cut the quick and cause bleeding and pain. If the puppy has clear or light coloured nails it is possible to see the quick as a pink line running through the nail. If you inadvertently cut the quick you can stop the bleeding using men’s shaving styptic pencil or soap. If in doubt, please consult us and we will show you exactly how to trim the nails.

Train your dog to accept being handled all-over including regularly touching the ears, feet and muzzle.

Growth chart for your dog

Dogs should not grow too fast as this affects the development of the bones and joints



Intestinal parasites are common in puppies. Puppies can become infected with parasites before they are born or later through their mother’s milk. A microscopic examination of a faeces sample will usually help us to determine the presence of intestinal parasites. Modern worming preparations are safe and effective and we recommend that puppies be treated at two week intervals, from two weeks of age. For puppies, it is important that the medication is repeated since it is usually only the adult worms that are killed. Within 3-4 weeks, the larval stages will have matured and will need to be treated.


Pose a small but definite risk to children, so it is good practice to regularly administer worming preparations to your dog throughout its life. Preparations that eradicate roundworms, tapeworms and other pathogenic worms are available and can be administered as tablets, liquids, or granules. All adult dogs should be wormed at least twice a year and more frequently if in contact with young children.


May cause colic, anaemia and skin itchiness.


Is a fungus, not a worm, and is contagious from one animal to another. Your vet will check for this; please mention if your pet has spots or hair loss or is itchy.


Eggs are very resistant, and may survive for years in the soil. Whipworms cause colitis – diarrhoea with blood and mucous.


Heartworm disease (dirofilariasis) is a serious and potentially fatal disease in dogs in many parts of the world. It is caused by a worm called Dirofilaria immitis. These microfilaria live in the bloodstream, mainly in the small blood vessels. Dogs get heartworm from mosquito bites. Heartworm kills dogs. Although heartworm can be treated, this is vigorous, expensive and the dog may have heart, liver and kidney damage from the worms.

Regular treatment with heartworm preventative drugs completely prevents the problem of heartworms. There is a choice of products available, and you should discuss with veterinary staff about how you will protect your dog. Products may be given daily or monthly or a yearly injection. Prevention is better than cure. If you are not able to give heartworm prevention regularly, then your dog should have a blood test for heartworm every year.


Tapeworms are the most common intestinal parasite of dogs. Puppies become infected with them when they swallow fleas; the eggs of the tapeworm live inside the flea. When the puppy chews or licks its skin as a flea bites, the flea may be swallowed. The flea is digested within the dog’s intestine, the tapeworm hatches and then anchors itself to the intestinal lining. Therefore, exposure to fleas may result in a new infection in as little as two weeks.

Dogs infected with tapeworms will pass small segments of the worms in their faeces. The segments are white in colour and look like grains of rice. They are about 3mm (1/8″) long and may be seen crawling on the surface of the faeces. They may also stick to the hair under the tail. If that occurs, they will dry out, shrink to about half their size, and become golden in colour.

Tapeworm segments are not passed every day or in every faeces sample, therefore inspection of several consecutive bowel movements may be needed to find them. If you find them at any time, please let us know and we will provide the appropriate eradication drug. Regular drug treatment can control the tapeworm problem, but it must be administered regularly (three to six months). Discuss with veterinary staff about how you will protect your dog.

Recommended worming schedule

2 weeks to 4 months of age
Worm every 2 weeks against round, hook, whip and tapeworms
We recommend: Drontal, Ambex or Popantel.

At 4 months – start heartworm prevention.
We recommend:
Interceptor (or Sentinel) once a month with tapeworming every 6 months, or
Heartgard once a month with Drontal Allwormer every 3 months, or, a heartworm injection once a year and worm with Drontal every 3 months.

Fleas and flea control

Successful flea control must not only rid the dog of fleas, but must also rid the dog’s environment of fleas. Fleas are irritating. They cause skin disorders and anaemia, and they spread disease and worms. Many effective flea control preparations for use on adult dogs are not suitable for use on puppies, therefore it is worthwhile consulting your veterinary surgeon regarding flea control in the young animal. Today there are products which are eminently suitable for use on even tiny puppies. It must be emphasised that flea control in the puppy is equally as important as with the older dog and must be coupled with the control of fleas in the environment.

Frontline spray can be used on 2 day old puppies.

Vaccination requirements

When the puppy is suckling from its mother, it receives a temporary form of immunity through the mother’s milk. This immunity is in the form of proteins called antibodies. For about 24-48 hours after birth, the puppy’s intestine allows absorption of many of these antibodies directly into the blood stream. Later during suckling, further antibodies are transferred via the milk although not in such great quantities. This immunity is of benefit during the first few weeks of the puppy’s life, but, at some point, this immunity falls and the puppy must organise its own long-lasting protection. Vaccinations are used for this purpose.

We have the ability to prevent many serious diseases of dogs by the use of effective vaccines. In order to be effective, these vaccines must be given as a series of injections. Ideally, the program of vaccinations for puppies is:
6-8 weeks of age C3 vaccine, protecting against Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus
At 12 weeks of age C5 vaccine.  You can then start socialising your pup safely
At 4 months C5 vaccine, then booster injections annually (or C7 or C8)

Distemper – affects the brain.
Hepatitis – affect the liver and eyes.
Parvovirus – causes bloody diarrhoea and vomiting and your dog could lose the lining of the bowel completely. High Mortality rate.

All these diseases can be fatal and are best protected against by vaccination.

Kennel cough

Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease of dogs which can be caused by a number of different viruses and bacteria. Kennel cough is a spontaneous, harsh cough that often finishes with gagging.  These bouts can persist for several weeks.

A C7 and C8 vaccination are also available but are not needed by every dog. Leptospirosis is advisable if your dog chases and eats rats. Coronavirus for dogs with bowel problems. Tetanus is usually only given if your pet treads on a rusty nail or has a deep or dirty penetrating wound or is at risk of this type of injury.

All dogs should be vaccinated against all of the important viruses and bacteria that can cause disease. Booster doses should be given annually.


Ticks kill dogs. We have many types of ticks in this area. Dog tick, bush tick and paralysis tick. The paralysis tick(Ixodes holocyclus) causes the most problems. It is a small greyish tick and can be detected as a small lump. You should regularly (daily) run your hands over your dog’s head, neck and ears checking for ticks (feel a lump), particularly after walking through the bush. The first sign of a tick problem is a change in the dog’s bark. There may be congestion or gagging. After this there is weakness in the hind legs and the paralysis spreads through the body. Tick serum will save lives, but the earlier the tick is found the better.


Vomiting is a symptom of many different diseases. Is your dog also suffering from diarrhoea, dehydration, loss of appetite, abdominal pain or lethargy? If vomiting is associated with several of the above signs, tests should be carried out to clarify the situation. Vomiting may be a minor matter, but it could also be the indication of something more serious.
If your pet vomits then your first step is to take away all food and water to prevent further vomiting. Give small amounts of water (1 table spoon only) at a time or give ice cubes. Do not give any food for 24 hours. After 24 hours, start with bland food such as starchy rice or potato and a stock cube; or boiled water with small amounts of chicken and rice or pasta or baby food. Do not give too much at once – feed small amounts frequently over next 2 days, then back to normal feeding.
You need to consult your vet if vomiting persists for more than 12 hours.


If your dog is only passing soft faeces once or twice a day, although abnormal, it is not a major worry. Minor causes of diarrhoea include stomach or intestinal bacteria or viruses, intestinal parasites and dietary indiscretions (eating garbage). Check whether your dog has had access to food other than anything you have fed it. Stop feeding your dog for 12 hours. Only provide water (not milk) then give small amounts of bland food. (Try dog biscuits or kibble, not tinned food). If the diarrhoea does not resolve in 24 hours, or there is blood in the droppings, then contact your vet.
Remember that human food is not always suitable for dogs. Don’t feed curries, chilli, onions, tomato-based sauces etc, without expecting a tummy upset. Of course, plastic bags, socks, stockings, string, underwear, marbles, peach seeds, fish hooks and sewing needles are not going to be digested and may cause major problems. Some toys will cause blockages of the bowel, so if your pet is chewing pieces off a toy it is time to replace it. Cooked chicken bones can perforate the bowel and are really dangerous. Only ever feed raw bones, and under strict supervision.

Training and discipline

Always be sure you WIN the game (have the dog release the toy to you) and while your dog is watching, put the toy away for the day, out of your dog’s reach. It is best not to have all your toys in use at once so they don’t become boring.
Disciplining a young puppy may be necessary if its behaviour threatens people or property, but never strike the puppy. Remote punishment is preferred. Remote punishment consists of using something that appears unconnected to the punisher. Examples include using water in spray bottles, throwing suitable objects in the direction of the puppy to startle (but not hurt) it, and making loud noises. Remote punishment is preferred because the puppy associates punishment with the undesirable act and not with you.
Basic training of a puppy is not difficult provided simple rules are followed:

  1. Keep the tasks simple and only go one step at a time.
  2. Teach sounds and words as commands and not sentences.
  3. Do not attempt a training session when nearby activities are competing for the dog’s attention.
  4. Be effusive with your praise and don’t be afraid to use food rewards.
  5. Ignore failures and certainly do not punish the puppy.
  6. Be consistent. This applies to all the family.

Don’t allow your dog to charge in or out of “territory” before you. At the door of your home, vehicle, or at a gate, put your dog on stay, go through first then call the dog in or out.
Responsible ownership involves having a well-trained dog and this training should be commenced as soon as the puppy comes home. Puppies are continuously learning from the moment their eyes are open, and responsible breeders will ensure that the elements of training have commenced long before the puppy goes to new owners at 6-8 weeks of age. Training is not some formal process but should occur all the time you are together with your dog.
Make sure your dog knows you are the boss, not him/her.
Get your dog’s attention. Call his name
Make eye contact.
Develop a bond between yourself and your dog.
When giving your dog a command, don’t beg or scream; speak in low, firm tones. Remember no matter how simple the command, give it only once and be sure to help your dog comply.
Training and socialisation are intermixed; a well socialised dog is invariably a well trained dog and vice versa. Puppies should be handled by family members and strangers as soon as possible and then be introduced to other dogs, preferably to puppies, as soon as their inoculation programme allows.
Since the puppy will not have built up a complete immunity from the vaccination program until approximately 14 weeks of age you must be selective in your attempts to socialise him on the one hand, and try to isolate him from exposure to potentially harmful diseases on the other. Menai Animal Hospital runs regular puppy classes in order to initiate training and ensure adequate socialisation takes place. Enquire from our staff for dates of various classes.
Puppies need toys for their play to stimulate exercise and development of their bodies. The best toys are lightweight and movable. These include wads of paper and rubber balls. Any toy that is small enough to be swallowed should be avoided. Remember to control the game. Do not let your dog get over excited and stupid. Do not leave toys with your dogs that they can destroy. Any toy that is coming apart needs to be thrown away.