Meet the vet
You've chosen your puppy, now it's time to choose his vet
One of the first things you'll need to do once you bring your puppy home is make a vet's appointment. But how do you find a vet who's right for you? Recommendations from family and friends can be helpful but, in the absence of those, you'll need to trust your instincts. Do the staff seem friendly, knowledgeable and helpful? Is the surgery convenient for you to get to and does it have good provision if your puppy happens to be unwell outside of surgery hours? You should also find out whether the surgery specialises in certain areas, or if your vet will be able to refer your pet to a specialist if needed.
Ensuring the first visit goes smoothly
Your first visit to the vet is likely to be quite stressful for your puppy. They may have to travel by car, come across new people and new smells and put up with a certain amount of poking and prodding.
You can help in a number of ways. The first and most important is to be calm in yourself. Next, make sure your puppy is safely restrained in the car either by using a travel crate or a puppy harness and a seatbelt. It's also a good idea to pack some toys and treats to reward your puppy for good behaviour. That way they'll see that going to the vet isn't all bad!
Vaccinating your puppy against life-threatening diseases is essential and one of the most important things you can do to keep them healthy.
Your vet will provide you with a vaccination schedule but expect your puppy to receive the first vaccinations at around 8 and 12 weeks of age. Your puppy will need to be kept inside and away from other dogs until 7-10 days after that.
To maintain protection, annual booster shots must be given, though some are only required every other year. Your vet will advise you on this.
There are two types of worms that could infect your puppy: roundworms and tapeworms, you'll need to start treating against these as soon as possible. Your vet will advise you on a regular worming programme. Because some worms can also infect people, it is important that you stick to the worming regime recommended by your vet.
If your puppy's harbouring unwanted visitors, they'll probably scratch a lot. You may also notice flea dirt in their coat when grooming. You're unlikely to see the actual fleas, which are red-brown about 2-3mm long, as they move very fast.
If you think your puppy does have fleas, seek advice on treatments from your vet. Modern flea preparations are very effective and you should be able to get rid of the fleas pretty quickly. You'll also need to thoroughly treat your home, your vet can provide you with a suitable spray or powder.
You may decide to take out Pet Insurance for your new puppy. That way, at least you won't have the additional stress of worrying about big bills for treatment.
Bear in mind that most pet insurance won't cover routine healthcare . It is also important to do your homework as policies and prices vary widely. Don't sign anything until you've read the small print.
A microchip is a tiny device that can be implanted under your puppy's neck skin. This is a relatively pain-free procedure; it's just like receiving a vaccination injection. The chip carries a unique number which is registered on a central database. If your puppy ever goes missing, they can then be traced back to you. You will have to pay for this, but it's well worth the investment. Ask your vet for more details.