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Jack Russell Terrier puppy black and white

How to take care of puppies

In the first months of life, puppies go through an amazing transformation. Taking care of their health and establishing healthy habits at this stage will help build the foundations for a healthy future.

Six tips for a healthy puppy

There are lots of simple things you can do in your early weeks together that makes for a healthy puppy and a healthy adult dog later on. Here are some top tips from Royal Canin’s vets and nutritionists.

1. Learn to read your puppy’s body language and be aware of the signs indicating your puppy 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 specialized, well-balanced puppy diet.

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

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

6. Always follow your vet’s recommended vaccination and deworming schedule.

Royal Canin Puppy Diet

Build your puppy’s immunity with tailored nutrition

It's vital for your puppy's long-term health and well-being that they develop a strong immune system during the first months of life. Our formulas are scientifically developed to support their long-term healthy growth.

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 deworming.
These simple procedures will give your puppy the very best start to life.

First vet visit

Vaccinations and deworming

Puppy vaccinations and deworming 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 deworming schedule for your puppy.

Why puppy vaccinations are so important

Vaccinations reinforce your puppy’s natural defenses 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.
Labrador Retriever puppy standing on a table being examined by two vets

Protection against diseases

The recommended puppy vaccinations protect against diseases including parvovirus, kennel cough, distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza virus, and rabies. (Required by law in the US.)

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

Welsh Cardigan Corgi puppy running outside on a beach

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 deworming treatments.

Your vet can advise on the best deworming program for your puppy according to their lifestyle. Most are dewormed monthly until they're six months, and then at least every three to six months from then.

Pomeranian puppy sitting on a table being examined by a vet

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 can cause weight loss. Whipworms are the least common and can be hard to diagnose.

English Cocker Spaniel puppy standing outdoors in a garden

Symptoms of worms in puppies

Look out for the following symptoms, which may indicate your puppy has worms: Diarrhea and/or vomiting, dry or coarse coat, blood in their stools, bloated abdomen, lethargy, worms visible in their stools, anal area, or vomit.
Labrador Retriever puppy lying down on a white sheet
Dachshund puppy being examined by a vet

Should I spay or neuter my puppy?

Spaying or neutering your puppy means you won’t be able to breed them. But it does offer a variety of health and behavioral benefits as well as preventing unwanted litters.

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

The benefits of puppy neutering and spaying

Black Labrador Retriever puppy lying down outside in the grass

Male dogs

  • Reduced risk of testicular and anal gland tumors and prostate enlargement.
  • Male dogs are less likely to mark their territory in your yard.
  • Your male dog is less likely to roam, make urine markings, or be aggressive.
Shiba Inu puppy sleeping on a sofa

Female dogs

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

Australian Shepherd puppies playing outside in snow


  • Prevents sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Female dogs are no longer attractive to male dogs.
  • No unwanted litters.
Chocolate Labrador Retriever puppy being carried outdoors by owner

When to have your puppy neutered or spayed

The usual time for spay or neuter is when puberty begins. For females this is usually between four and nine months, and for males it’s between seven and 10 months or later. Your vet may recommend spaying or neutering your puppy sooner. 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.

Royal Canin Puppy Food

Changing your puppy’s diet after spay and neutering 

After a puppy’s been neutered or spayed, they tend to gain weight more easily because they have a bigger appetite and are less active. Being overweight can cause various health problems, so it’s important to adjust your puppy’s diet.

Food designed for sterilized dogs has fewer calories and a higher fiber content to help your puppy feel full without gaining too much weight, but it still needs to be complete and balanced for growth until your puppy becomes an adult. Ask your vet for advice on your puppy’s new diet, and switch to it progressively a week after their operation so they can get used to it.

Common health issues for puppies

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

Common health issues
Labrador puppy black and white eating from red bowl

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 well-being. It influences everything from supporting 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. 

Royal Canin Puppy Diets

View puppy ranges

Nutrition tailored to meet the specific needs of puppies of different ages, sizes, and breeds.