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Puppy Care

Congratulations on your new puppy. The team at Cairns Veterinary Clinic are excited to welcome your new addition to “The Cairns Vet Family”. As a new puppy owner there is a lot that you, as a new “parent” need to do to maintain your pet’s wellbeing and we understand you may have lots of questions to ask. We hope the following information offers you some suggestions and tips on raising a happy and healthy puppy. If you have any questions about the information provided or have any other concerns regarding your puppy’s health and wellbeing please contact us, we are here to help.


Keeping your pet’s vaccinations up-to-date is important. Vaccines maintain immunity and prevent infectious diseases. Infectious diseases can be spread via the air or through contact with a parasite, a virus or fecal matter which is brought inside on your shoes, so even indoor pets should be vaccinated. All dogs should be vaccinated against Distemper, Parvovirus, Hepatitis and Kennel Cough. We also recommend vaccination against Leptospirosis and Tetanus to all at risk dogs. Leptospirosis vaccinations are recommended if your dog lives, plays or hunts near cane, bush, and creeks or comes into contact with wildlife, rats or rat’s urine. Tetanus vaccinations are recommended if your dog lives, plays or hunts on farms, in the bush or comes into contact with horses. We recommend you begin your pet’s first course of vaccinations from six to eight weeks of age and after the initial course, yearly boosters are essential to maintaining immunity. Annual vaccinations are also a great time to discuss any issues or concerns you may have about your pet’s health and wellbeing.

Heartworm Prevention

Heartworm is a worm which lives in the heart and blood vessels of dogs. Transmitted by mosquitoes, it has the potential to cause serious, chronic and fatal heart and lung disease in unprotected pets. Humans can occasionally be infected with heartworm with serious consequences. Many products are available to prevent heartworm disease.

Intestinal Worms Prevention

Intestinal Worms are common and can cause illness or even death in pets. It is estimated that around 80% of dogs carry intestinal worms. Not only do worms make your best buddy sick, they represent a serious health risk for humans as well. Children especially are most at risk of infection as they are often closest to the family pet. Puppies should be regularly wormed at 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 weeks of age, then monthly until they are 6 months old. From 6 months dogs should be wormed every three months.

Tick Prevention

Two species of tick are common in North Queensland. The most common is the brown dog tick which in most cases are harmless, however they can cause skin irritations or dermatitis and in high numbers may cause anaemia which can be fatal. The second species of tick is commonly known as the Scrub Tick, Shellback or Paralysis tick. The tick is carried by Bandicoots and is commonly picked up in bushy areas. During feeding, the tick releases a neurotoxin which interferes with muscles and nerves causing life threatening paralysis. It is estimated that over 75,000 dogs and cats are affected by tick paralysis each year. Traditionally the “Tick Season” runs from June to December, however we do see cases throughout the year. Many products are available to prevent ticks and it’s important to choose the correct product for your pet. Unfortunately NO product offers 100% protection and it is essential to search your dog for ticks daily.

Flea Prevention

Fleas can be a major issue for pet owners and their pets. These blood sucking parasites are not only a nuisance but cause considerable discomfort to your pet. Fleas also cause other health issues such as anaemia, flea allergic dermatitis; a common skin condition seen by veterinarians and skin infections. They are also involved in the transmission of tapeworm. Once on your pet, the female flea lays up to 50 eggs per day so it doesn’t take long to go from a few fleas to a serious infestation. Once laid, these eggs are shed from your pet into the home environment. The high humidity and temperatures in the tropics create the perfect environment for rapid hatching resulting in severe flea infestations. When controlling fleas it is important to treat not only the adult flea but the juvenile stages in the environment as well.


Every year animal management, vets and Shelters are presented with thousands of lost pets. Reuniting these pets with their owners can prove to be difficult since many cannot be reliably identified. In addition to the traditional collar and engraved tag, a microchip is an effective and permanent form of identification. This small implant has a unique code which is entered onto a national database meaning that when scanned your pet can easily be traced back to you. Microchipping can be performed from 8 weeks of age.

Feeding Your Dog

Good nutrition is essential in keeping your pet healthy. As the saying goes, we are what we eat and the same goes for your pets too. Combined with regular exercise and veterinary check-ups, feeding a well-balanced diet to your pet promotes healthy teeth, skin and coat, strong well developed bones, bright clear eyes, good muscle tone, firmer smaller stools, increased energy as well as improved quality of life and longevity. Hills Science Diet range has been developed to provide a large range of health support for your pet. It contains superior quality ingredients and is great taste, 100% guaranteed with no artificial preservatives, flavours or colours. Recommended by vets worldwide it’s by far one of the best premium pet foods available.

Your puppy should be fed four times a day until they are 12 weeks of age then twice daily until they are 6 months. Adult dogs only need to be fed once daily. Always ensure clean fresh water is available.

It’s very tempting to offer your puppy lots of treats, especially during training, however remember that some treats are very high in calories and can cause your pup to gain excess weight. Use treats which are low in fat and high in protein such as the “Fit and Flash” range.


Across Australia, animal shelters & rescue organisations are overflowing with unwanted pets and thousands upon thousands of cats and dogs are euthanized across the country each month. All Pet owners need to be responsible and do their part for animal welfare by ensuring they don’t contribute to the pet overpopulation by desexing their pet. Desexing is a surgical procedure performed under general anaesthesia, which prevents sexual and reproductive behaviour and related health and behaviour problems. In males the surgery, called a Castration, involves the removal of the testicles. In females the surgery, called a Spey, involves the removal of both the ovaries and the uterus. We recommend desexing is performed from four months of age.

Dental Care

Early dental care is essential to maintaining good oral health in later life as by the age of three approximately 80% of dogs have gum disease. Dental health can be maintained a number of ways, you could start by gradually training your puppy to allow daily tooth brushing or provide a diet that is specifically designed to clean the teeth such as the Hill’s Science Diet range. As your puppy ages regular scaling and polishing of the teeth is recommended for optimum oral health.

Pet Insurance

Responsible pet ownership involves a real commitment to your pet in many ways, but providing them with the best healthcare available to keep them healthy and happy is probably the most important.

Pet insurance allows you to budget monthly for those unexpected veterinary bills that you may otherwise be unable to afford. Having pet insurance means that at the time of a veterinary emergency, your focus is on what is the best treatment for your pet, rather than distressing about how you are going to pay the Vet bill. There are a number of pet insurance policies available. When looking for a plan, be sure to compare policies carefully to avoid getting a policy that is too expensive or has inadequate coverage.


As a pet owner you are responsible for your pet’s behaviour. Obedience training should be started as early as possible and puppies need to be socialised to ensure they learn appropriate behaviours. Expose your puppy to as many situations as possible in the first year of age. This will ensure they develop normal, adaptive responses to current and new situations later in life. Make training sessions fun with lots of treats and praise for your puppy. Start with easy commands such as “sit” and gradually work yourself and your pup up to more difficult tasks. Puppies respond to positive reinforcement rather than punishment so if you catch your puppy in the act of misbehaving, quickly correct them and always praise them for the right behaviour. Cairns Veterinary Clinic holds regular puppy preschool classes to assist in early obedience training and provide a safe environment for socialisation. The key to toilet training is to frequently take your puppy to the designated toileting area especially after waking, excitement, drinking water, eating and prolonged playing. Watch for the signs of pre elimination (sniffing around etc) and when seen immediately take them to the designated area. Remember to reward and give praise.

We recommend crate training your puppy. Crate training provides your pup with his/her own private space as well as safe place to stay when you are out of the house.

We recommend that you play with your puppy’s ears, feet, mouth etc as this will acclimate your puppy to future veterinary exams, nail trims and grooming etc.

Puppies will chew so provide plenty of toys and remove any objects out of your puppies reach that you don’t want them to have. Toys that are worn, tattered or frayed should be replaced.

Cairns City Council Registration

Cairns Regional Council asks owners to register their dogs at 12 weeks of age. They offer a discount for desexed dogs and level 3 obedience trained dogs. The Council also has a list of designated dog walking areas that can be found on their website.

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