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. He'll have to travel in the 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 he'll see that going to the vet isn't all bad!
Vaccinating your puppy against life-threatening diseases is essential and is one of the most important things you can do to keep him healthy.
Your vet will provide you with an exact schedule of vaccination but expect your puppy to receive his first vaccinations at around eight weeks and his next at 12 weeks of age. He'll 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 from then on, though some are only required every other year. Your vet will advise you on this.
There are two types of worms that will infect your puppy: roundworms and tapeworms, so you'll need to start treating him 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, he'll probably scratch a lot. You may also notice flea dirt in his coat when you're grooming him. You're unlikely to see the actual fleas though which are red-brown, about 2-3mm long and move very fast.
If you think your puppy does have fleas, seek advice on how to treat him 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 and your vet will 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 know if he does become poorly, you won't have the additional stress of worrying about big bills for treatment.
Do bear in mind though that most pet Insurance won't cover routine health care. It 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 skin on his neck. 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, he 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.