Puppies first year



We would like to congratulate you on the acquisition of your new puppy. Owning a dog can be an extremely rewarding experience, but it is also a large responsibility. We hope this handout will give you the information needed to make some good decisions regarding your puppy.


First, let us say that we are grateful that you have chosen us to help you with your puppy's health care. If you have questions concerning any subject related to your puppy's health, please feel free to call our clinic. Our entire professional staff is willing and happy to help you.

What type of playing should I expect from a puppy?


Stimulating play is important during the first week. Stalking and pouncing are important play behaviours in puppies and are necessary for proper muscular development. Your puppy will be less likely to use family members for these activities if you provide adequate puppy-safe toys. 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. We can help you choose the safest toys for your pet loved one.


Can I discipline a puppy?


Disciplining a young puppy may be necessary if its behavior threatens people or property, but harsh punishment should be avoided. Hand clapping and using shaker cans or horns can be intimidating enough to inhibit undesirable behavior. However, remote punishment is preferred. Remote punishment consists of using something that appears unconnected to the punisher to stop the problem behavior. Examples include using spray bottles, throwing objects in the direction of the puppy to startle (but not hit) it, and making loud noises. Remote punishment is preferred because the puppy associates punishment with the undesirable act and not with you.

When should my puppy be vaccinated?


There are many fatal diseases of dogs. Fortunately, we have the ability to prevent several of these by vaccinating your pet. In order to be effective, these vaccines must be given as a series of injections. Ideally, they are given at about 6-8, 12, and 16 weeks of age, but this schedule may vary depending on several factors.


The routine vaccination schedule will protect your puppy from seven diseases: distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza virus, and parvovirus. These are included in one injection that is given at 6-8, 12, and 16 weeks old. We also vaccinate for leptospirosis and this vaccine requires 2 vaccines 3-4 weeks apart. Your puppy should receive a kennel cough vaccine if a trip to a boarding kennel or groomer is likely or if it will be placed in a puppy training class.


Why does my puppy need more than one vaccination?


When the puppy nurses its mother, it receives a temporary form of immunity through its mother's milk. This immunity is in the form of proteins called maternal antibodies. For about 24-48 hours after birth, the puppy's intestine allows absorption of these antibodies directly into the blood stream. This immunity is of benefit during the first few weeks of the puppy's life, but at some point, this immunity fails and the puppy must be able to make its own long-lasting immunity. Vaccinations are used for this purpose. As long as the mother's antibodies are present, vaccinations do not have a chance to stimulate the puppy’s immune system. The mother's antibodies interfere by neutralizing the vaccine.


Many factors determine when the puppy will be able to respond to the vaccinations. These include the level of immunity in the mother dog, how much antibody has been absorbed, and the number of vaccines given to the puppy. Since we do not know when an individual puppy will lose the short-term immunity, we give a series of vaccinations. We hope that at least two of these will fall in the window of time when the puppy has lost immunity from its mother but has not yet been exposed to disease. A single vaccination, even if effective, is not likely to stimulate the long-term immunity, which is so important.




Puppies should be wormed every 2 weeks until 12 weeks old, then every month until they are 6 months old then every 3 months through their life. The two productst/ we sell are Drontal and Milbemax. If your puppy has a sensitive stomach Milbemax is the preferred option.


Fleas do not stay on your puppy all of their time; occasionally, they jump off and seek another host. Therefore, it is important to kill fleas on your new puppy before they can become established in your house. Many of the flea control products that are safe on adult dogs are not safe for puppies less than four months of age. Be sure that any flea product you use is labeled safe for puppies.

For puppies we recommend using advantage from when they are weaned from their mother. This is applied once a month to the back of the neck. Once the puppy has reached six months you can start using products that last for more than a single month. There are product available that last from between 3 to 6 months.

Speying and Neutering

Please click the link below for a flow chart which shows at what age you should have your puppy desexed.

If you have any further questions please discuss these with our vets at the time of you puppies final vaccinations.


There are lots of choices of dog foods. What should I feed my puppy?


Diet is extremely important during the growing months of a dog's life. The two brands that we recommend and sell from this clinic are Hills and Royal Canin.


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. It can be left in the dog's bowl without drying. As a rule, most veterinarians will recommend dry food for your puppy.

Semi-moist and canned foods are also acceptable. However, both are considerably more expensive than dry food. They often are more appealing to the dog's taste; however, they are not more nutritious. If you feed a very tasty food, you are running the risk of creating a dog with a finicky appetite. In addition, the semi-moist foods are high in sugar.


Table foods are not recommended. Because they are generally very tasty, dogs will often begin to hold out for these and not eat their well-balanced dog food. If you choose to give your puppy table food, be sure that at least 90% of its diet is good quality commercial puppy food.

Commercials for dog food can be very misleading. If you watch carefully you will notice that commercials often promote dog food on the basis of TASTE. Nutrition is rarely mentioned. Most of the "gourmet" foods are marketed to appeal to owners who want the best for their dogs; however, they do not offer the dog any nutritional advantage over a good quality dry food, and they are far more expensive

How often should I feed my puppy?


There are several “right” ways to feed puppies. The most popular method is commonly called “meal feeding.”  This means that the puppy is fed at specific times of the day. A measured amount of food should be offered four times per day for 5-12 week old puppies. What is not eaten within 30 minutes is taken up. If the food is eaten within 3-4 minutes, the quantity is probably not sufficient. Puppies fed in this manner generally begin to cut themselves out of one of those meals by 3-4 months of age and perhaps another one later. If a meal is ignored for several days, it should be discontinued.

How do I insure that my puppy is well socialized?


The socialization period for dogs is between 4 and 12 weeks of age. During that time, the puppy is very impressionable to social influences. If it has good experiences with men, women, children, cats, other dogs, etc., it is likely to accept them throughout life. If the experiences are absent or unpleasant, it may become apprehensive or adverse to any of them. Therefore, during the period of socialization, we encourage you to expose your dog to as many types of social events and influences as possible.

Puppy socialisation

It is vital that puppies have positive experiences when they are young, so that they become well-balanced, confident and friendly companions.

Socialisation needs to happen between 3 weeks of age and 12 weeks of age.

Important time in a puppy’s life.

  • 3-5 weeks – socialisation with other dogs, usually litter mates.
  • 5-12 weeks – exposure to humans and environmental stimuli.
  • 8-12 weeks – this is a fear sensitivity age, so it’s really important that experiences are positive.


At home

  • Don’t keep your puppy isolated, they need positive experiences of people of all ages.
  • Puppies can go out in the car to gain more exposure to the outside world and get used to the car. Try short trips at first.
  • Encourage visitors, but get them to leave their shoes outside.
  • Gradually introduce to household noises
  • Make all these new experiences positive, with play and treats.



  • These can help a puppy settle and have also been shown to accelerate learning.
  • They come as diffusers or collars.
  • Available from your veterinarian.


Socialisation and risk of disease

  • The need for socialisation needs to be balanced with the need to protect puppies from exposure to disease.
  • The age at which your puppy finishes its vaccination course will be 16 weeks and leaving socialisation until then is too late.
  • Puppies that have had at least one vaccination and a kennel cough vaccine, will benefit from attending puppy school.
  • After the second vaccination puppies may walk in areas such as the beach, at low tide, on clean sand and play with other vaccinated dogs.
  • Avoid public parks and designated dog parks until after the final vaccination, as these areas could be contaminated if unvaccinated dogs have been there.

The risk of a puppy developing behavioural problems due to lack of soicalisation in the first twelve weeks of life, is relatively high. This can negatively impact not only the enjoyment the adult dog may experience, but the lifelong relationship with the human family and community.


Teething in Puppies


By approximately 6 weeks, all of their deciduous teeth will have erupted. At around 12 weeks, the deciduous teeth begin to fall out, and the permanent teeth begin to erupt. Normally by 6 months of age, all permanent teeth have erupted, and all deciduous teeth have fallen out.

Some breeds, particularly smaller breeds and brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds, have a tendency to retain some of their deciduous teeth. The most usual site is the upper canine teeth, although it can happen anywhere. Retained deciduous teeth can cause malocclusion (misaligned teeth leading to a poor bite) and discomfort. Retained teeth need to be removed.

It is important to supervise your puppy even when he is chewing on recommended toys as no toy is 100% safe. We recommend not allowing puppies to chew anything hard. That would include objects made of nylon, as well and bones and antlers. Don’t let you dog chew anything that won’t bend.

Getting your puppy used to having something in his or her mouth other than food or a chew toy is a good idea. You also want to be able to retrieve objects from your dog's mouth or look in there without risk of injury to your hand. In addition, because dental problems are among the most common problems seen in dogs, getting your dog to tolerate brushing at an early age will get you started on a path that will help prevent many of these problems.

Most dogs can be taught to tolerate or even enjoy daily teeth brushing. For more information, see the handout "Brushing Your Dog's Teeth".


Can you recommend something for pet identification?


The latest in pet identification is microchipping. This tiny device is implanted with a needle much like administering an injection. A special scanner can detect these chips; veterinary hospitals, humane societies, and animal shelters across the country have these scanners. A national registry permits the return of microchipped pets throughout New Zealand. We strongly recommend microchipping all pets.




Below are links the main three pet insurance companies that our clients are currently using




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Kohimarama Vets

325 Kohimarama Road
St Heliers, Auckland 1071