Happy half year birthday to your gorgeous puppy! Time flies, so your growing furry baby will be so much bigger already. We hope all is going well and your puppy is settling in well at home.
Now is the time to start thinking about making that all-important 6-month puppy health check, or as I call it, an adolescent health check-up with your vet. So called, as this is around the time your female puppy may start her first season. This milestone is an important time for your puppy to be examined by your vet to ensure they are growing and developing as they should and provide an opportunity to review their parasite and worming control and ensure your puppy has the right prescription for their weight as they will be growing almost daily.
What happens at my puppy health check?
Review your Puppy’s Vaccination Status
During the puppy health check, your vet is likely to check your dog is all up to date with the primary vaccination course they’d have typically had at between 7-16 weeks old. If your puppy hasn’t already had a vaccination against infectious cough (previously known as kennel cough) this would be a good time to discuss it. This is one of the most contagious diseases dogs can get. Its previous name was very misleading as it is certainly not confined to being spread in kennels. Any dog who meets another dog and shares the same airspace could potentially contract infectious cough. Hence it is recommended for any dogs who regularly meet other dogs, whether it be on walks, at dog training classes, agility, or in kennels to be protected.
Full Health Examination
The vet check-up also acts as a great chance to carry out a full nose to tail puppy health check. This includes examining inside your pup’s mouth to ensure all your puppy’s teeth are coming through as they should, also examining for any possible hernias they could have been born with, but can become more obvious as they grow. Examining their heart, to check there are no heart murmurs that may have been missed or have progressed since they were tiny and, in male pups, checking that both testicles are fully descended.
Examine your Puppy’s Teeth
What will my vet be looking for when examining my puppy’s teeth?
Your vet will examine your puppy’s teeth to ensure their adult, permanent teeth are erupting as they should and that as these adult teeth come through, the deciduous (baby) teeth have fallen out to allow space for the permanent teeth.
By 6 months old, your pup’s permanent canines erupt. Permanent premolars erupt at 4 to 6 months and the molars erupt at 5 to 7 months of age. Most breeds will show all their permanent teeth between the ages of 6 to 7 months of age. If you haven’t started already, this is a perfect age to start regularly brushing your puppy’s teeth, as these are the teeth your puppy will have for the rest of their life, so it is important to care for them properly.
Review pup’s parasite control
As your puppy will be regularly going out and probably frequenting many different environments, from your garden to the town centre, parks, possibly woodlands and maybe weekends away, it is important to review your parasite control. This ensures that your pup will be covered against all the parasites they may potentially encounter. What are the key parasites I need to worry about?
Many dogs require year-round flea control. This is because fleas now present a threat all year round, largely due to the widespread use of central heating. Ideally, you should use a product that kills fleas fast before they have a chance to lay eggs, helping to effectively reduce the build-up in your home.
If your vet has assessed that your dog is at risk of ticks, then it is important to provide effective tick control against the key species of ticks that can affect dogs in the UK all year round, as with warmer winters and wetter summers ticks can thrive all year. Ticks aren’t just found in rural areas and woodlands and can now be seen in urban environments too.
Providing regular roundworm control helps reduce the risks of toxocariasis, which is a zoonotic disease. In other words, if your dog has Toxocara, it could affect you and/or other members of your family, especially young children. Speak to your vet to determine how often your dog needs treatment for roundworm. This can vary from every month, to every three months and depends on the lifestyle your dog leads.
Lungworm is a type of parasitic worm called Angiostrongylus vasorum that can affect dogs, foxes and badgers. Unlike many other diseases, lungworm is not passed from dog to dog. The worm grows and develops in slugs and snails. Not all snails and slugs carry the worm. Lungworm infection is widespread in dogs in the UK and is now being seen beyond previously reported pockets of infection. Dogs can become infected from eating an infected slug or snail, let your vet know if your pup likes to make a habit of this and if your vet is concerned that your pup is at risk, they will ensure your parasite control includes prevention against lungworm.
During this consultation, your vet will discuss the option of neutering your puppy and when the best time is for him or her. If you are not intending to breed, you should strongly consider neutering dogs to reduce the risks of associated potentially very serious medical problems, including reducing the risks of mammary tumours and pyometras (infections in the womb) in bitches and testicular cancers in males.
Discussing your puppy’s diet and training
It is also a good opportunity to discuss your puppy’s diet and gain any advice from your vet. Your vet could also recommend local puppy training classes. These can be very helpful for the development of your pup.
As your puppy is growing up so fast, now is the ideal time to see your vet to have the important opportunity for your puppy to be fully examined ensure they are in tip top health and for your vet to give you their expert advice.
More useful advice
Learn more about giving your cats, dogs and other pets a healthy and enjoyable life.