Feeding your puppy

Balance is best

It’s important to understand that a balanced diet is the key to a healthy puppy. Until they have stopped growing, the best nutrition is premium quality, commercial food labelled “for puppies”. These foods are specifically designed for growing dogs. Make sure you get the correct sized food for your breed of puppy. Puppy food comes in small bites for miniature, toy and small breeds. Original puppy is for medium sized breeds and puppy large breed is for those dogs that will reach more than 25 kg once fully grown.

Clean, fresh water is ideal for drinking. Milk isn’t necessary and should be avoided because it can sometimes cause diarrhoea. If you do decide to give your puppy milk, stick to the special ‘puppy’ milks available from your supermarket or pet store. These are often high in fat and you should limit the amount given and duration of time that you continue giving it to your puppy.

How often to feed

As a general rule, you should feed your dog:

  • 3-4 meals per day until they are 12 weeks old
  • 2-3 meals per day for dogs aged up to 6 months
  • 1-2 meals per day for dogs over 6 months old

Meals should be spaced out evenly throughout the day.

Changing foods

If you want to change your puppy’s diet, do it gradually over a week to avoid any tummy upsets. Mix 75% of their current food with 25% new food for 1-2 days, then 50 / 50 on days 3-4, then 25% old with 75% new on days 5-6 until you reach 100% new on day 7.

The benefits of desexing

For their health and well-being and to prevent unwanted litters, have your puppy desexed before he or she becomes sexually mature (at about six months of age).

Desexing can sometimes also improve behaviour.

While myths like “desexing makes a dog lazy” still continue, the fact is that desexing means your dog:

  • Tends to be less aggressive towards other animals and people
  • Is less likely to stray and get lost
  • Is less likely to mark indoors and outdoors by urinating
  • Won’t cycle or go ‘on heat’, therefore avoiding the unwanted attention of male dogs
  • Can’t produce unwanted puppies Serious health conditions like pyometra (infected uterus) and mammary cancer in female dogs, and cancer or infection of the testes or prostate in male dogs can also be avoided, or their chance of occurrence minimised by desexing.

Make sure you microchip your puppy to help find them if they ever go missing

Microchipping your new puppy is now compulsory in most parts of Australia. But the greatest motivation for having it done is that it’s the best way to identify your pet and reunite you if heaven forbid your puppy ever goes missing. The microchip is a small chip injected under your puppy’s skin. The chip contains a code that matches your pet’s information in a central database. But remember, if your address or contact details ever change, you’ll need to have them updated on the database.

The following website will help you to update your contact details:



Most dogs will get fleas at some time. Not only are flea bites annoying and uncomfortable, causing your puppy to scratch, but they can also cause dermatitis and transmit tapeworms to your puppy. Because fleas breed very quickly and live in your puppy’s environment, an effective flea control programme involves:

  • Treating every pet in your household
  • Using an effective flea control product. There are a number of products available which provide excellent flea and tick control.

Intestinal worms

Intestinal worms are very common parasite in dogs. Intestinal worms such as roundworm, tapeworm, hookworm and whipworm can have serious health effects and in severe cases even cause death. Always assume your puppy has worms and use an effective treatment to protect them. Intestinal worms can also infect you and your children.
So if you have kids, make sure you teach them good hygiene. They should always wash their hands after they’ve played with their puppy.

Here’s the recommended worming schedule:

Puppies from 2 weeks of age: Worm every two weeks until 12 weeks of age.

Puppies aged 3months: Worm every month until 6 months of age.

Puppies aged 6 months: Worm every 3 months for life.


Heartworm is a very dangerous parasite for your puppy. Unlike other worms, heartworms don’t live in the intestines but in the heart, lungs and blood, and are transmitted by mosquitoes.

Heartworms are found in blood vessels associated with the lungs and the right side of the heart. Although dogs may show no signs of the disease in the early stages, once it takes hold they start to cough, grow weak and can eventually die.

As mosquitoes are prevalent throughout most of Australia, it’s important to protect your new puppy from this potentially fatal parasite.

We offer a number of different options for Heartworm prevention, the best being:

  • Puppies <3months of age: Oral medication options.
  • Puppies 3-6 months: First heartworm injection (lasts 3 months).
  • Puppies 6-9 months: Heartworm booster injection (lasts 9 months).
  • Puppies >9 months: Heartworm injection (lasts 12 months).


Paralysis ticks are dangerous parasites, which deliver a deadly toxin. In fact, a single tick can cause paralysis and death. They are increasingly being found year-round but are less common in Winter months. These nasty parasites can be mainly found along the east coast of Queensland, New South Wales and even into Victoria and Tasmania.

Paralysis ticks are generally found near bush land, where they can attach themselves to your puppy as you’re out walking. They are also found in urban areas, and can be carried in by the local wildlife of the area.

What to do if your puppy gets a Paralysis tick:
If you find a paralysis tick on your pet, it must be removed as soon as possible. You can do this carefully or you can take your pet to your vet so that they can remove it.

To remove a tick, dab it with methylated spirits and leave for a few seconds. This will help to kill the tick and it is therefore easier to remove. A tick hook may be used or you can grasp the tick as close to its head/to your pet’s skin with tweezers or fingertips. Twist the tick as you pull it out. It is important to remember that if there is one tick present, it is very possible that there may be another one there – your pet needs to be checked. Keep the tick so that your vet can identify it.

Even-though the tick has been removed it is important to note that it is very possible that paralysis signs may still develop depending on the amount and potency of toxin that has already been injected. Your pet should be kept calm and as quiet as possible for 3 days and monitored for any signs of paralysis.

If you see any signs of paralysis whatsoever (even if it is barely evident), including weakness, especially in the back legs, take your puppy straight to your vet.


Having the right vaccinations at the right time is essential to protect your puppy from infectious diseases, such as the deadly and contagious parvovirus.

Please consult with your vet about the right vaccination plan for your puppy.

A suggested schedule is:

  • 1st vaccination: 6 – 8 weeks
  • 2nd vaccination: 12 – 14 weeks
  • 3rd vaccination: 16 – 18 weeks
  • Annual booster

Knowing when to call your vet

Puppies are like children – they are excitable and can get into scrapes. If your puppy does have an accident or has a fight with another animal, always take them to your vet to check for any internal injuries that you may not be able to spot.

An unwell puppy may display one or more of these symptoms:

  • Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Not eating its food
  • Coughing and sneezing continuously
  • Discharge from the eyes or nose
  • Swollen or painful areas
  • Limping or lameness
  • A change in the way your puppy behaves

If you see any of these signs or anything else you are concerned with, consult your vet.


Curious puppies are very vulnerable to poisoning.

Common household poisons like snail and many baits are extremely toxic. If you suspect that your puppy may have eaten any poisons, you should take them to your vet immediately. Call your vet if you notice any of these symptoms:

  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Excessive drinking and urinating
  • Blindness
  • Collapsing
  • Tremors
  • Seizures

We hope that by now you’re enjoying life with your new puppy.

If you need any more information to help you understand even more about looking after them, our family here at Alexandria Veterinary Hospital is bursting with helpful information and expert advice. We understand your every need when it comes to raising a puppy. You’ll find all you need to know about caring for your pup, parasite protection and even get free treatment reminders.  We are here to help you.