Congratulations – you have a new puppy!

You’ve anticipated the new arrival by ‘puppyproofing’ your home and had lots of fun choosing the
crate, bed, blanket, toys and other supplies he will need. This frisky little creature is sure to bring you
much joy. In return, you can make a major contribution to your pet’s longevity, happiness and quality
of life by providing him with good nutrition, loving attention in a safe, sanitary environment and regular
veterinary check-ups.

Desexing your puppy

Many veterinarians believe that desexing not only helps solve the serious problem of unwanted pet
overpopulation, but also makes for friendlier, easier-to-live-with pets. Spayed female dogs are more
relaxed, while castrated males are less likely to roam, or urine-mark their territory, or fight with other
males. Plus, desexing has health benefits – it helps to minimize the risk for cancers of the reproductive
organs and the mammary glands in females and reduces the incidence of prostate problems and
testicular cancer in males.

Spaying removes the uterus and ovaries of a female dog, usually around the age of six months. A
major surgical procedure, it is performed under general anaesthesia and occasionally involves an
overnight stay at the veterinary clinic. Complications are rare and recovery normally is complete within
two weeks.

Castrating, also carried out under general anaesthesia, removes the testicles of a male dog through
an incision at the base of the scrotum. Usually performed when the puppy is about six months old, it
necessitates only a brief hospital stay. Full recovery takes about seven to ten days.

Your puppy’s basic health check

Your new puppy should visit a veterinarian as
soon as possible. The first visit will probably

  • A thorough physical examination to
    determine his state of health.
  • Check for external parasites (fleas,
    ticks, lice, ear mites).
  • Treatment for internal parasites
    (tapeworm, roundworm, etc.).
  • Initial vaccination and/or a discussion of the types of vaccinations your puppy needs and
    when they should be scheduled.
  • Discussion about whether your puppy should be desexed (spayed or castrated) and when.

This first health check will give your veterinarian the information they need to advise you on your
puppy’s immediate diet and care. Plus, it will give them a “knowledge base” from which, on
subsequent checkups throughout your pup’s life, they can better evaluate, monitor and manage your
pet’s health.

Make your new puppy feel at home

Show your puppy the special places where he or she can eat, sleep and eliminate and, since they’re
probably quite overwhelmed, give him or her some quiet time to themselves to let them adjust to the
unfamiliar sights and sounds of their new home. Be sure, if there are also young children in the home,
that they are taught that a puppy is not a toy, but a living creature who must be treated with
gentleness and respect. As early as 8 weeks old, your puppy is capable of learning specific lessons –
so start house-training and teaching simple obedience commands the day you bring him or her home.
Your veterinarian can suggest the best training methods and, if you wish, recommend a good
obedience school. Your pup will find learning fun and easy and, with your positive reinforcement, they should remember their lessons well!

Your Geriatric Dog

When is the best time to start caring for your ageing pet? When they’re a puppy. Starting off your
dog’s life with good nutrition, regular exercise, scheduled veterinary appointments and a happy home
life sets the blueprint for a high quality of life in their older years. However, as your dog ages, much
like humans, changes to the metabolism will occur. Paying attention to your dog’s behaviour will make
detecting problems easier.

What you can do at home

  • Check your dog’s mouth, eyes and ears regularly. Watch for loose teeth, redness, swelling or
  • Keep your pet’s sleeping area clean and warm.
  • Groom your pet often. You’ll detect any unusual sores or lumps and keep their coat healthy.
  • Make fresh water available at all times.
  • Maintain a regime of proper nutrition, exercise and loving attention.

How old is your dog?

If your dog is… In human terms, that’s
6 months 10 years
8 months 13 years
10 months 14 years
12 months 15 years
18 months 20 years
2 years 23 years
3 years 26 years
4 years 32 years
5 years 36 years
6 years 40 years
7 years 44 years
8 years 48 years
9 years 52 years
10 years 56 years
11 years 60 years
12 years 64 years
13 years 68 years
14 years 72 years
15 years 76 years
16 years 80 years
* Please note, these equivalencies refer to small breeds.

Common Problems in older dogs

Obesity is a big health risk. An older dog is a less active dog, so adjustments to your pet’s diet to
reduce caloric intake are imperative. This will relieve pressure on their joints as well as manage the
risks of heart failure, kidney or liver disease, digestive problems and more. Other changes to their
nutrition should include increasing fibre, fatty acids and vitamins while decreasing sodium, protein and

Arthritis’ severity can range from slight stiffness to debilitation. An exercise program, to maintain
muscle tone and mass, can be adjusted to their condition. Anti-inflammatory medication can help
relieve the pain. Your veterinarian will prescribe any necessary medication.

Intolerance to hot and cold temperatures occurs because your dog produces less of the hormones
which regulate the body’s normal temperature. Move his bed closer to a heater and bring him indoors
on cold days.

Tooth loss or decay not only makes it harder to chew but also increases the likelihood of nasty
infections. Brushing and cleaning the teeth will keep these to a minimum. Special diets are also
available to help prevent plaque and tartar buildup.

Prostate enlargement or Mammary Gland Tumours are mostly diagnosed in uncastrated or
unspayed dogs. Have the prostate or mammary glands examined at checkups.

Separation Anxiety presents itself when older dogs can’t cope with stress. Aggressive behaviour,
noise phobia, increased barking and whining or restless sleep are the signs. Medication combined
with behaviour modification techniques are key.

Skin or coat problems Ageing means the skin loses elasticity, making your pet more susceptible to
injury while the coat’s hair thins and dulls over time. Grooming more often and fatty acid supplements
are highly beneficial.

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction manifests itself in confusion, disorientation or decreased activity.
Medication can help solve some of these issues.