3 – 6 MONTHS OF AGE
By now the pup is starting to grow up. The muscles are becoming well formed and the baby coat of the animal is starting to change to the adult coat. The fine undercoat is starting to form and if the pup belongs to a breed with long or thick coats then the animal needs to be groomed on a regular basis. The permanent teeth are starting to come through and by the time the dog is 6 months of age all the incisors will be permanent and the canine teeth will be started to erupt causing the baby teeth to fall out. Inside the dog the bones are now growing strong as they need to take the weight and the exercise tolerance of an active animal. Nutrition is very important during this phase – the developing bones and muscles need the correct amount of calcium, protein, vitamins, minerals etc. The dog now has a functioning adult brain that is capable of learning and training. This is another one of the “fun times” of a pup’s life.
The pup now needs to be wormed every month to allow for good growth and good absorption of the nutrients fed. We recommend the use of Drontal every month.
Heartworm is spread by mosquitoes and therefore all puppies are susceptible for infection. It is important that the owners start the animal on some form of heartworm prevention. There are basically 4 different forms of heartworm prevention:
- Daily heartworm tablets – they are cheap but they must be given every day preferably at the same time. They can be given with or without food. We do not recommend this form of prevention because owners are generally not compliant (they forget occasionally to give the tablets), the dog may vomit up the tablet and if the owner is going away it is often difficult for anyone else to give the tablet.
- Spot –ons. These are liquid applications that usually combine with flea controls. Examples of these products are Advocate and Revolution. We do NOT recommend these products as heartworm preventers because they can become very expensive and they need to be applied properly (as per the manufacturer’s instructions) and there are some animals who have reactions (skin irritation) to the products.
- Monthly tablets – there are a number on the market. We recommend and use Heartguard (a chewable tablet).
- Heartworm injection – this is given under the skin and in pups under 6 months of age it works for 6 months. Once the animal is over 6 months then it works for a year. This is the method we recommend because the owner does not have to remember to give any tablets.
The puppy needs to stay on a good puppy formula. We recommend Royal Canin puppy food and we recommend the owner matches the type of puppy food to the type of animal. For example – small dogs should be fed Royal Canin Small Breed Puppy food. It is very important that the breeds of dogs who will grow to over 40 Kg adult weight are only fed Royal Canin Large Breed Puppy food – ordinary puppy food can predispose to growth problems in the front and back legs.
Dogs of this age that have long coats or thick coats should be clipped and groomed especially in our summer periods. Owners should not wash their dog very often unless there is a medical problem with the coat of the dog. We recommend bathing the dog once a month. We offer a free service to all owners of puppies – we will hydrobath their puppy for free once the puppy has been vaccinated with us. If you have a dog with a long or thick coat then please come in and discuss this with our grooming staff. We can recommend the best type of grooming and bathing protocol to suit your puppy.
Flea and tick control
We recommend Comfortis for flea control. This is a tablet that needs to be given with food and kills fleas on the dog for a month. We recommend Advantix (a liquid applied to the neck of the dog) once every 2 weeks if the tick infestation is small. If large number of ticks are involved then we recommend Permoxin (a rinse). We recommend that you come and discuss the tick or flea problem with one of our staff members or ring us on 41531399 (Bundaberg) or 41591009 (Bargara).
Desexing males (castration) and female dogs (spey)
We recommend that dogs are desexed around 6 months of age unless there are medical problems or behavioural problems with the dog. There is good reasons to leave the dog till it is 6 months of age (or slightly older) and we recommend you discuss the pros and cons of desexing male and female dogs with one of our senior veterinarians. We do NOT recommend bitches have a litter before they are desexed (speyed). If you want to breed from the male or female then we recommend you discuss when is the best age to breed and you will need some information on the “heat” period (oestrus cycle). Because different breeds have different cycles we recommend you contact one of our trained staff to discuss the heat cycle and breeding times that pertain to your animal.
During the age of 3 – 6 months the animal’s bones grow very fast and in some cases the muscles, ligaments, tendons etc struggle to keep up with the growth. It is important that the animal is kept lean during this important phase of growth to minimize the development of fat cells and to minimize any strain put on the developing bones. During this period the brain is very active and the animal will be very inquisitive. This is the fun time of the puppies growth – everything is new and everything needs investigating. This is also the time when animals develop territorial barriers so it is important that the puppy is kept at home except when you are with the puppy. If the puppy gets lost then a lot of pups would struggle to find their way home (the homing instinct has not developed properly) so it is important that the puppy is microchipped. This is the time when training becomes important but keep it simple at this stage – teaching it to come, sit, lie, heel and fetch is usually all the animal will handle at this age. The pup will also “push the boundaries” as much as possible so it is important that you maintain good “pack order” so that the animal grows with your family realizing what the rules are within the family group. If you want information on behaviour or training your dog then please contact our animal hospital and talk to one of our qualified staff. Have fun and laugh a lot with your dog – they grow up very fast. After 6 months we the dog stops being a “puppy” and becomes an adolescent which is beyond the scope of this article. If you want to know anything about the health or well being of your puppy or dog please either email us or ring us on 4153 1399 (Bundaberg).