General puppy healthcare

Puppy Preschool

It is run by Natalie in Pahiatua and Buffy in Dannevirke.  Both caring nurses who want to ensure your puppy gets the best start. 

Caring for your puppy, feeding, health advice and basic obedience work are some of the things that are covered on this four-week course.  Please contact the clinic to inquire into the next start date for Puppy Preschool.



The food you feed your puppy during the first year is critical to their adult development, health and growth. Formulated diets like Hills Science Diet, Eukanuba, or Advance, are specially designed to provide all the nutrients your puppy needs.

Balanced Nutrition: fat, protein and minerals like Calcium and Phosphorous, help build strong bones and muscle. They also provide plenty of energy for growth and play, and because puppies come in many shapes and sizes, their nutritional needs will vary.

  • Puppies 6 weeks to 3 months old need three meals a day
  • Puppies over 3 months old need 2 meals a day
  • It is recommended that you feed a commercial diet (preferably a vet-sourced one), that is labelled complete and balanced
  • Puppies fed on specifically formulated puppy foods do not require additional calcium supplementation
  • Always have fresh water available
  • Bones that the puppy can chew on but not chew up are good as treats and for healthy teeth (e.g. beef cannon bones), however, they should only make up a very small percentage of your puppy’s diet
  • Never feed lamb chops or chicken bones as these will splinter and may choke your puppy


Between 3 and 6 months of age, most pups will lose their puppy teeth. If you notice your puppy has a poor appetite on some days during teething, it may help to soften the food with warm water. In many cases, though the crunching of dry biscuits may help to loosen the puppy’s teeth and speed up the teething process.



Puppies can begin their vaccinations as early as 6 weeks of age. Vaccinations are vitally important, not only to the health of your puppy but to ensure that serious diseases are reduced in the environment. The following diseases can be controlled by immunisation:

  • Canine Distemper
  • Canine Parvovirus
  • Canine Viral Hepatitis
  • Leptospirosis
  • Kennel Cough

Puppies receiving their first vaccination at 6 weeks old need a booster at 9 weeks and then again at 12 weeks.

Puppies receiving their first vaccination at 8 weeks or older need a single booster 4 weeks later.

IMPORTANT: Parvovirus can remain active in the environment for more than 5 years!

Puppies are not fully protected until a couple of weeks after the final vaccination. During this time they are still at risk of catching any of the above diseases so it is very important that your puppy does not come into contact with any unvaccinated dogs, and that you don’t take your puppy out into public areas where other dogs have been.

Types of vaccines: 

  • Most vaccinations come in combinations, which cover the main diseases ie: parvovirus, distemper and hepatitis
  • Leptospirosis vaccines are recommended for dogs in high-risk areas for example dogs on dairy farms or further up North
  • Kennel cough vaccine can be given via injection or squirted up the nose of the dog, and is recommended for dogs that will be kennelled often, or dogs that will come into contact with lots of other dogs e.g. show dogs
  • Feel free to ask one of our friendly vets about which vaccines are suitable for your puppy


Many puppies are born with intestinal parasites or become infected with them shortly after birth. Parasitic worms such as roundworms or hookworms can occasionally cause severe illness in puppies. It is important to de-worm your puppy on a regular basis during the first 6 months.

  • Your puppy should be de-wormed at 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 weeks of age, then monthly until they are 6 months old
  • After 6 months of age, you can worm your puppy every 3-4 months


Fleas are the most common parasite affecting cats and dogs. Fleas bite and feed on the blood of the animal causing itching and irritation. This can lead to medical problems such as:

  • Flea Allergy Dermatitis
  • Skin Infection
  • Anaemia
  • Tapeworms

There are spot-on flea treatments available from your Vet Clinic. Some products kill fleas and worms. They are applied monthly, and not only kill the fleas on your animal, but will kill adult fleas in the environment and flea larvae as well. This effectively breaks the flea cycle, and if used monthly will also help to prevent tapeworms as fleas carry tapeworm eggs.

  • Fleas can be picked up on walks or while visiting other animals and will be passed on to people and other pets in the household
  • Always de-flea all cats and dogs in the household at the same time as dogs and cats share fleas

Speying or Neutering:

Unless you plan to breed from your puppy we encourage you to have your pet speyed or neutered early in life in.

The benefits of desexing your puppy are:

  • No unwanted puppies to find homes for
  • Helps to prevent roaming in male dogs if done early. (This will greatly reduce the chance of your dog being hit by a car, or lost).
  • Helps to reduce aggressive and boisterous behaviour
  • Less worry involved ie. You won’t have to lock your female dog up every time she comes into season.
  • Greatly reduces the risk of mammary tumours in female dogs as they get older.

The operation is usually a day surgery.


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