Information on our loyal and faithful companions

Our loyal, faithful companions

Congratulations on your new addition to the family! Welcome to the practice if we have not seen you before and if we have then welcome back!

We hope that we will have many happy years ahead of us as we help you to look after your new furry friend.

Now that you have your puppy we thought we would give you a summary of what your Puppy got up to before they went home with you and what normally happens in the first year of life and until they are elderly.

  • Periods of Development
  • Vaccinations
  • Flea & Worming Treatments
  • Microchipping
  • Behaviour
  • Chocolate Poisoning

Periods of Development

Neonatal (birth to 2 weeks)

During this time puppies grunt and suckle. They make small noises which are mainly to do with being deprived of warmth and separation from the mother and litter mates. Puppies are born neurologically immature which means that their movements are restricted to crawling. Both the eyes and ears are closed and they need the mother’s help to pee and poo.

Transitional (2 – 3 weeks)

Rapid physical and behavioural change occur during this time; they will start to take in solid food, open their ears and eyes. They become more independent learning to walk. Early play fighting starts and growling can be heard as they play. Your puppy will have started to leave the nest at this point to pee and poo by themselves.

Socialisation (3 – 12 weeks, possibly to 18 weeks)

The timing of this period varies with the individual. Your puppy learns to control their own bladder at this stage. Of course this is the time when your puppy will have come to you and hopefully the breeder will have been socialising the puppy a little during the time that they have had them. We call getting used to something habituating. This means that as your puppy gets used to a noise, object or smell they become a habit and something common place. Providing this is done in a non-scary way, your puppy will be calm and relaxed when these objects/sounds etc. are around. If it is scary for the puppy you will need to back off and slowly introduce the puppy again or you will potentially be left with a frightened puppy in certain situations. These fears can then become generalised. Puppies that are not exposed to other dogs during this time are more likely to develop aggressive behaviour or fearful responses to other dogs later.

We cannot advise strongly enough puppy training classes for your puppy. They are inexpensive and provide a wealth of information for you and your new little one. We can advise on what kind of puppy training class you should attend. Training and dog behaviour has become a bit of a hot topic over the last twenty years as we have managed to find out more about learning theory and how dogs interact with us and different species. We originally thought that because dogs are distantly related to wolves the training methods used should reflect the dominance hierarchy seen in wolves.

Unfortunately it was assumed that the aggressive behaviour displayed by these wolves was the norm but the wolves that were studied were strangers to each other and so fighting ensued. Normally a true pack consists of mother, father and offspring and they communicate with each other much like we as a family would and aggressive behaviour is rare. This means that the latest scientific evidence regarding training our dogs should focus on reward based methods and it is important that we do this or it is possible that we can cause behavioural problems to develop. We are happy to give advice on any behavioural issues and recommend trainers.

Juvenile (12 weeks to sexual maturity)

There will be gradual improvements in motor skills and male puppies can begin to lift their legs to urinate. We think that a puppies learning capacity has become fully developed by the beginning of this period.

Adult (6-14 months – death)

The adult period is from sexual maturity to the end of the life cycle. Sexual maturity occurs between 6-14 months of age depending on the breed and the individual dog. Generally, the larger the dog the later the onset.

Social maturity is thought to occur around 18-36 months of age and is associated with the onset of many behavioural problems such as aggression and anxiety related problems. Changes that we see in aging dogs has been studied extensively over the last few years. Just like dementia and Alzheimer’s in elderly people there is a reduction in the amount of dopamine levels in the brain which may be responsible for behavioural changes seen. They may drink more or less, become incontinent, get lumps and bumps, get sore or stiff, cough or lose weight – these are all physical signs of aging.

Changes in behaviour to look for include: decreased interaction with you, confusion, disorientation and increased vocalisation. We can help these dogs very often and give you advice to help you make sure they are still enjoying as full a life as possible.


Why have your dog vaccinated?

Unless regularly vaccinated, your dog runs the risk of contracting one of several possibly fatal infectious diseases. Parvovirus and Leptospirosis probably represent the most widespread threat, but it is also necessary to protect against Infectious Canine Hepatitis and Distemper. Vaccines are also available to protect against Parainfluenza and Bordetella bronchiseptica, who are involved in “Kennel Cough”.

If an animal (or person) is immune to a particular disease it means that there is little or no risk of falling ill to that disease. Immunity in an adult dog may be a result of either regular vaccination or the dog having suffered (and survived) the disease.

Puppies are usually protected for the first few weeks of life by the immunity passed in their mother’s first milk provided that the mother has been vaccinated and is immune. However, the immunity fades and leaves the puppies susceptible to infectious diseases, especially Parvo. Vaccinations at this point simply help providing protection.

Modern vaccines are products of extensive research. These vaccines are manufactured to standards which are no less exacting than those demanded for the production of vaccines for human use. With such safe and effective vaccines readily available, it makes sense to protect your dog at the earliest opportunity.


Parvovirus is a tiny but extremely tough and hardy virus that can survive in the environment for long periods. The disease was first found in the 1970s killing many thousands of dogs before effective vaccination became available. The main source of infection is the faeces of infected dogs. Be careful the virus can be spread on shoes and clothing and on the coat and pads of dogs!

Originally two forms of the disease were seen: heart disease (in young puppies) and enteritis. Now, heart disease is rarely seen. Enteritis is seen in any age of dog from about four weeks of age, but most commonly in dogs less than one year old. Signs appear very suddenly: depression, severe explosive vomiting, refusal to drink or eat, tummy aches and profuse foul smelling, bloody diarrhoea. This will result in rapid and severe dehydration leading to death.

“Parvo” is still commonly seen in unvaccinated dogs. We see cases every year and they are extremely sad. Vaccination and annual boosters are vital to protect against this disease.


Leptospirosis is caused by bacteria that are spread in the urine of infected animals. It can spread to humans by skin contact with infected urine. Rats commonly spread the disease with their urine. Two forms of disease are seen:

Leptospira Icterhaemorrhagiae (Weil’s disease)

This is contracted from rats, most commonly via contact with infected urine or rat-infested water. The liver is the main organ affected, although the kidneys may be involved. Signs are usually a high temperature, severe thirst, lethargy, increased urination abdominal pain, vomiting, bloody diarrhoea and jaundice. Death can occur in a few hours in severe cases.

Leptospira Canicola

This is contracted from the infected urine of other dogs. Milder signs are often seen with the kidneys being the main organs affected; jaundice is seen less often and is less severe. However, damage to the kidneys may cause problems later in life. Dogs that recover can excrete the bacteria in their urine for up to a year and thus, be a source of infection.

Annual vaccinations are vital to protect your dog and prevent it becoming a source of infection to


Whilst vaccination has resulted in a decrease in the incidence of this disease in recent years, many pockets of infection still exist, especially in large cities, which result in regular local outbreaks. The main source of infection is by inhalation during close dog to dog contact: signs may take up to three weeks to appear. Dogs less than one year of age are most commonly affected.

Typically, the first signs are runny nose and eyes with coughing and vomiting, followed by unusual tiredness, lack of appetite and diarrhoea. After several weeks there may also be a thickening of the pads, and nervous signs, including twitching or even fits. Dogs that survive may suffer from deformed teeth or even develop nervous signs later in life.

Treatment of canine distemper is often unsuccessful – vaccination is the best form of protection.

Infectious Canine Hepatitis (Canine Adenovirus, Canine Viral Hepatitis, Rubarth’s Disease)

Infectious Canine Hepatitis, which mainly attacks the liver, can rapidly be fatal. Transmission is by close dog to dog contact; dogs recovering from the disease may be a source of infection for more than 6 months. Dogs are most commonly affected in the first year of life, but all ages are susceptible.

Early signs include general discomfort and lack of appetite, very high temperature, pale gums and conjunctiva, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain. Subsequently, the dog may develop jaundice. In some dogs that recover, a clouding of the cornea, known as “blue eye” occurs, which will usually resolve.

Canine Adenovirus type 2 vaccines provide good immunity against Infectious Canine Hepatitis and one of the components of “Kennel Cough” syndrome.

Kennel Cough Syndrome (Infectious Canine Tracheobronchitis)

Kennel Cough is an infectious disease that, as the name implies, can be picked up especially when dogs stay in boarding kennels. It can mean coming home to a distressed dog, whose coughing will undo all the good of your relaxing holiday. Kennel Cough represents a serious problem for kennels and, as a result, more and more are insisting on full vaccination cover for all dogs in their care. Although there are other organisms which can cause Kennel Cough, infection with Bordetella Bronchiseptica can lead to a persistent hacking cough that lasts for several weeks. Dogs can pick up Bordetella anywhere; it doesn’t have to be in kennels. The infection spreads from dog to dog through the air and dogs are just as likely to catch Kennel Cough at shows, training classes or wherever dogs are grouped together.

Fortunately your dog can be given a Kennel Cough vaccination – a vaccine which provides solid protection against Bordetella infection and can be given on its own or at the same time as your dog’s annual booster against Distemper, Viral Hepatitis, Leptospirosis and Parvovirus.

It is given as nose drops and is effective in as little as five days, although the best time to have this
vaccination is two weeks before your dog goes into kennels or to a show.


This disease is not seen in the UK but vaccination is compulsory for dogs travelling abroad on the ‘Animal Health Certificate’ scheme or for export. Dogs have to be microchipped before receiving a rabies vaccination. Please ask for more information at reception if you wish to travel with your dog. If you are planning to travel with your dog be sure to look at the DEFRA website before you start the scheme.

When should your dog be vaccinated?

Primary Vaccination

Puppies may start their vaccination course as early as 7 weeks of age. If you acquire or have an older dog, effectiveness of vaccination are not immediate and the vet will advise when your puppy may be taken out for walks safely. It is important that your puppy socialises with other dogs and people early in life to avoid behavioural problems puppy or adult dog that is unvaccinated or has an unknown vaccination history, please book it in for its vaccinations. This allows your new pet to have a general check-up.

Booster Vaccinations

Immunity to these diseases does not last indefinitely and will gradually fall leaving your dog at risk. Annual boosters are vital to maintain the immunity which will protect your dog from these infections and provide an opportunity for a yearly health check by the vet. It is important to ensure your pet’s vaccination status does not lapse as this may result in your dog requiring to re-start their vaccination course.

Flea & Worming Treatments

There are now many different flea and worm treatments available.

Worm treatments

There are many worming products available. If you are using a spot on application it may be that some intestinal parasites are already being treated. We can advise you on the type of worming product that you will need depending on which flea product you use to treat your puppy/dog.

Wormers that we use regularly are:

  • Drontal – multiwormer
  • Droncit – tapeworms

Please note - the monthly spot on and tablet flea treatments do not treat for tapeworms. If you are using one of these products we advise a tapeworm every six months.


We can microchip your puppy/dog at any time. Many people opt for microchipping at the time of neutering so they are asleep under an anaesthetic when the chip is injected. Many puppies/dogs do seem to tolerate this procedure when they are awake so let us know if you would like this done at any time.

Please make sure that you register your puppy straight away and particularly remember that if you move house these details will need up dating.

It is a legal requirement to have a puppy microchipped before it is 8 weeks old.


If you would like any information about the behaviour of your puppy please ask us at the surgery.

Some behaviour is completely normal and some behaviour is not. If you are concerned we can help you. The most common problems that we encounter are:

  • Problems with toilet training
  • Chewing Problems and mouthing
  • Going off food
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea

Anything your pet does is a behaviour! Please try to notice any differences in behaviour during the lifetime of your pet, they may not be a problem but sometimes a small change in behaviour can give an indication that something is wrong.

Chocolate Poisoning

The cause of the poisoning is theobromine, found in the cocoa solids from which chocolate is made, as well as in cocoa powder, cocoa beans and more recently some garden mulches. As little as 100mg theobromine per kg of your pet dog can be fatal. To give you a rough idea how much of various cocoa products could be fatal to two common breeds look at the examples below.

The figures are approximate, based on a standard breed weight, and a standard amount of cocoa solids in the chocolate products, but even as a first approximation, make startling reading:

A Jack Russell Terrier would need to eat 55kg of White Chocolate, 227g of Milk Chocolate, 32g of
Plain Dark Chocolate and only 17g of Cocoa shell mulches!

A Labrador would need to eat 277kg of White Chocolate, 1.1kg of Milk Chocolate, 156g of Plain Dark Chocolate and only 83g of Cocoa shell mulches!

Fortunately we don’t see too many cases of chocolate poisoning, but the problem arises since the symptoms which it produces mimic so many other things and don’t occur for at least 4 – 24 hours after ingestion.

Typically, we see:

  • vomiting, including blood
  • excessive drinking
  • hyperactivity
  • panting
  • incoordination
  • a racing heart

In severe cases these signs may be accompanied by:

  • muscle rigidity
  • fever
  • seizures
  • heart arrhythmias
  • and may ultimately lead to kidney or heart failure and death

In most cases it is best to make the dog vomit as soon as possible. Most poisons take a few hours to be fully absorbed from the stomach so inducing vomiting is useful up to 2 hours after ingestion. The best way to do this is to place a small crystal of washing soda (not washing powder, nor caustic soda) on the back of the dog's tongue and hold his mouth shut until he swallows it or starts retching. You may need to do it 2 or 3 times before anything happens.

Then quickly take your dog to us!

There is no antidote for theobromine poisoning and treatment is necessary for any amount ingested. Typically, we - unless you already managed to - will induce vomiting to slow down the rate of chocolate absorption from the gut, pump out the stomach and feed activated charcoal which will absorb any theobromine left in the gut. Fitting or convulsing animals are sedated, and careful monitoring of the heart and pulse is undertaken. If necessary, certain medications can be used to regulate the heart’s rhythm, but not without the risk of side-effects, so such drugs are reserved for life-threatening cases only. Your dog might have to stay on a drip for a day or two.

It is important to stress that with prompt intervention in potentially serious cases, the prognosis for a poisoned dog is usually good. Fatal cases are thankfully rare, and in general it is cocoa-bean mulch cases which cause death, rather than those caused by stolen chocolate!

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