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Taking care of your puppy’s health

In the first months of life your puppy goes through an amazing transformation. By taking care of their health, and helping them form healthy habits at this stage, you'll build the foundations for a healthy future together.

Six tips to keep your puppy healthy

The are lots of simple things you can do in your early weeks together to keep your puppy healthy. Here are some top tips from Royal Canin’s vets and nutritionists.

1. Learn to read your puppy’s body language so you spot if they might be ill.

2. If you feel something isn’t right, or your puppy doesn’t seem their usual self, speak to your vet.

3. Make sure your puppy gets the right nutrition from a specialist, well-balanced puppy diet.

3. Give your puppy plenty of opportunities to sleep and rest quietly during the day, as well as at night.

4. Dogs enjoy company, so spend time with your puppy and remember to interact and play with them.

5. Always follow your vet’s recommended vaccination and worming schedule.

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How to make the most of your puppy’s first visit to the vet

Once your puppy feels at home, it’s time for them to see the vet. There are important checks and treatments your vet needs to carry out, such as vaccinations and worming. These simple procedures will give your puppy the very best start to life.

First vet visit

Vaccinations and worming

Puppy vaccinations and worming are most effective when they are given at fixed dates with boosters. Your vet will be able to provide you with the most appropriate vaccination and worming schedule for your puppy.

Why puppy vaccinations are so important

Vaccinations reinforce your puppy’s natural defences and are vital in protecting them against a variety of diseases. Your vet should give your puppy their first vaccinations when they’re around eight weeks old. And they’ll need booster vaccinations every year to ensure they stay effective.

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Protection against diseases

The recommended puppy vaccinations protect against diseases including, parvovirus, kennel cough, distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza virus, and rabies.

Your vet will advise if your puppy needs any other vaccinations, depending on their lifestyle, and will create a detailed vaccination schedule for you.

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Preventing worms in your puppy

Worms are internal parasites that can cause a range of health issues, including weight loss, stunted growth and digestive problems. As your puppy’s immune system is still developing, they’re more likely to catch worms so it’s important they have regular worming treatments.
Your vet can advise on the best worming programme for your puppy according to their lifestyle. Most are wormed monthly until they’re six months, and then at least every three to six months from then.

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Worms commonly found in puppies

Four types of worms are commonly found in puppies. Roundworms lodge in the small intestine and can grow to be several inches long, causing serious health problems. Hookworms latch onto the small intestine and live off the puppy’s blood leading to serious loss of blood and nutrients.

Tapeworms are long, flat and white and don’t usually harm dogs but can cause weight loss. Whipworms are the least common and can be hard to diagnose.

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Symptoms of worms in puppies

Look out for the following symptoms, which may indicate your puppy has worms: Diarrhoea and/or vomiting, dry or coarse fur, blood in their stools, bloated abdomen, lethargy, worms visible in their stools, anal area or vomit.

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Dachshund puppy being examined by a vet

Should I sterilise my puppy?

Sterilising your puppy means you won’t be able to breed from them as it stops the production of sperm or eggs. But it does offer a variety of health and behavioural benefits as well as preventing unwanted litters.

In male dogs, sterilisation is called neutering and in female dogs it’s called spaying. Both involve your puppy being anaesthetised and having a small operation by a vet.

The benefits of puppy neutering and spaying

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Male dogs

  • Reduced risk of testicular and anal gland tumours and prostate enlargement.
  • Male dogs are less likely to mark their territory in your garden.
  • Your male dog is less likely to rove, make urine markings or be aggressive.
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Female dogs

  • Prevents mammary gland tumours.
  • The symptoms of being in heat are removed or reduced.

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  • Prevents sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Female dogs are no longer attractive to male dogs.
  • No unwanted litters.
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When to have your puppy neutered or spayed

The usual time for sterilisation is when puberty begins. For females this is usually between four and nine months, and for males it’s between seven and 10 months. Small dog breeds tend to reach puberty faster than larger breeds, so it’s best to ask your vet for advice on the best time for your puppy.

Changing your puppy’s diet after sterilisation

After a puppy’s been neutered or spayed, they tend to gain weight more easily because they have a bigger appetite but are less active. Being overweight can cause various health problems, so it’s important to adjust your puppy’s diet.
Food designed for sterilised dogs has fewer calories and a higher fibre content to help your puppy feel full without gaining too much weight. Ask your vet for advice on your puppy’s new diet, and switch to it progressively a week before their operation so they can get used to it.

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Common health issues for puppies

Knowing the common health issues your puppy might face, and the symptoms to look out for, can help you feel reassured and take better care of your puppy.

Common health issues
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The right nutrition to help your puppy stay healthy

Your puppy’s diet is one of the most important factors in their long-term health and wellbeing. It influences everything from the strength of their bones and immune system to their digestive comfort and coat health.
As your puppy grows towards adulthood and beyond, their nutritional needs will change – especially over the first year. To help give them the best chance in life, it’s important you give them the right diet, in the right quantities for their age and individual needs.

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