There are so many breeds of dog that it’s really true that there’s a breed for everyone. If you are considering getting a new dog, please download our Ultimate Puppy Guide featured above, and browse our many pages on choosing and caring for dogs.
Please also visit our pages on Choosing crossbreed dogs from shelters and rescue centres and Best dog breeds for children.
Once you’ve chosen a breed, look them up in our guide to the common genetic diseases of dog breeds.
Nutrition and Dental Care
We recommend feeding dogs on super-premium dog foods, whether canned or dry but always in meals at set times rather than free access or treat feeding. Feeding home-prepared foods or table scraps often leads to nutritional problems. Please ask us for a recommendation based on your pet’s requirements.
Raw marrowbones can be fed (read our bone feeding guide for safety information) but never cooked bones. Fresh fruit and vegetables in moderation probably enhance the diet but never feed grapes or bulbs such as onion. Fresh water must be available at all times.
When you can’t be around, consider using part of the diet in ‘boredom buster’ treat balls, food puzzles or mazes. Bob-a-lots (left) are excellent for using dog biscuits. Kong make a range of chew toys which can be stuffed with their own proprietary mix or you can make your own. Our Guide to better dog toys shows more examples and there is a stuffing recipe in our Dog feeding guide.
Dog Skin Care
Puppies are vaccinated with ‘C5’ vaccines including parvovirus, distemper, hepatitis, bordetella and parainfluenza protection. We recommend puppies not be exercised in public places until 1 week after their last vaccination to minimise the chance of infection with these devastating diseases, especially parvovirus which remains common in unvaccinated dogs exposed to public areas.
For information on the diseases, visit What do vaccines actually do?
It is now possible to give puppies their puppy immunisation at 10 weeks of age. This allows them to socialise and exercise from 11 weeks of age. For information on our early puppy vaccination visit Puppy Vaccination.
Adult dogs now receive their vaccinations using a vaccine with allows protection against parvovirus, distemper and hepatitis (C3) for three years. This allows us to give them yearly vaccinations for canine cough only and a 3-yearly C5 to maintain a full C5-standard of immunity. We have seen no evidence of illness or harm caused by more frequent annual vaccinations but we believe it is prudent to use the longer-acting vaccines when available to reduce the potential for over-vaccination.
Heartworm is a serious cause of illness in dogs in Adelaide. Read all about heartworm here (warning- there are some nasty pictures).
Prevention of heartworm infection is important due to the danger posed by the parasite as well as the difficulty in treating the established disease. If the right product is used, prevention is close to 100% effective. Some preventatives may also treat fleas and some intestinal worms.
At first glance there seems to be a bewildering array of choices on offer for heartworm control. See our page at on choosing the right product at Heartworm, Flea and Intestinal Worm Protection for Dogs.
Puppies should commence heartworm prevention at 3 months of age, but older dogs may require a blood test if their prevention has not been continuous since a puppy.
Intestinal worms are very common in dogs and we strongly recommend regular preventative treatment. Puppies are most at risk, and will often develop problems if worming is not performed. This is caused by roundworms physically obstructing the intestines. Roundworms are passed from the mother to the young prior to birth and develop and breed quickly if unchecked due to the lack of resistance of newborns. Dogs also get several types of hookworms and tapeworms, and dogs are susceptible to whipworm infestation. All of these worms are spread by microscopic, highly resistant eggs passed into the environment via faeces.
How Do You Know If Your Dog Has Worms?
The most common sign of a worm infestation in a puppy is a poor appetite together with a swollen belly. In older dogs, symptoms are more vague and can just be poor health, weight loss or diarrhoea.
To diagnose worm problems, we send faeces away for testing. However, if you follow normal preventative schedules, it is very unlikely that your dog will have enough worms to cause illness.
How Often To Worm Dogs
Puppies should be wormed every 2 weeks up to 12 weeks of age, and then monthly to 6 months of age. Pups over 6 months can be wormed the same as adults every 3 months for life. Worming is important not only for the health of the pet but also to prevent disease in young children. The condition in children called ‘visceral larva migrans’ is caused by children ingesting worm eggs, which then hatch and the larvae cause damage in their migration through the body. With an appropriately dewormed dog and children educated to wash hands before eating, there is no reason for concern.
Heartworm prevention is just as important as preventing intestinal worms (see above).
Flea and other parasite control
The adult flea is an environmental pest which infests most if not all areas where animals are found. It jumps onto passing animals and then feeds on the host’s blood, laying eggs which fall off during the dog or cat’s travels.
All animals are exposed to fleas and so we recommend the use of continuous protection. It is very hard to find fleas on infested animals and the best policy is to use flea control like ‘insurance’.
The good flea controls are all monthly, whether by tablet or topical liquid. We stock all the major products and a always happy to advise you on the best for your pup.
Having said this, if you are using another product, please ask for our advice on its suitability. In particular, it is worth noting that most non-veterinary (i.e. supermarket/pet store) flea control products are ineffective. We are also not happy with the safety of many of these treatments.
Desexing is highly recommended for both female and male dogs. Our normal advice for pet owners is to have their animals desexed unless they intend to breed from them. Read our blog at The truth about neutering: desexing your dog and watch our video.
When to desex? We recommend 6 months of age for both sexes. This is just prior to the onset of behaviour changes in males or coming into season in females. Especially with smaller breeds, we would advise waiting until this date as many will also require the removal of temporary teeth (milk teeth) which have not shed naturally. If we desex sooner, they may need a second anaesthetic. The pictures below show how the retained teeth interfere with the normal occlusion (‘bite’) if not removed.
Desexing prevents unwanted pregnancies and eliminates the heat period in females. Many of the unwanted puppies produced each year are the result of owners failing to control their undesexed animals. Heats in dogs last roughly 3 weeks and occur 1-2 times a year during which females have a persistent bloody vulval discharge and attract unwanted male attention.
Desexing also reduces male dog behaviour problems. Most of these behaviours are exacerbated and reinforced by testosterone, especially aggression. This is true of all breeds large and small. Early desexing prior to increased testosterone production prevents many otherwise untreatable disorders. Even trivial things like urine marking can be frustrating. Once these behaviours develop, late desexing is often unable to fix the problem, so in effect, male dogs need to be desexed before they show these problems. This is especially important where children are involved.
Desexing also prevents many diseases of old age. Pyometra and mammary cancer in female dogs, testicular cancer and prostatic enlargement in male dogs are all very common and serious disorders of aging animals, and all prevented by early desexing.
Disadvantages of desexing include the potential for weight gain in both sexes, due to a 10% drop in food requirements. This can be controlled by reducing the diet after desexing, and bearing in mind that the time of desexing also coincides with a natural slowing down in growth and therefore a lower food requirement regardless.
Many owners will decide not to desex their dog, but as long as they are well informed of the reasons for desexing we don’t argue with their choice. It’s also worth knowing that your local council supports dog desexing by offering around 50% discounts to register a desexed dog.
Anaesthesia and Surgery
We have a specialised operating theatre which we use on a daily basis for surgical procedures. Our trained staff and the range of equipment at our disposal makes us able to perform most surgical procedures, including fracture repair or abdominal surgery. Every surgical operation is performed using a fresh sterilised instrument pack used for only that patient in a dedicated operating theatre.
We are very proud of our anaesthetic record, and take a careful and thorough approach to each individual, depending on their specific needs. All patients receive a physical examination prior to anaesthesia to identify any problems which may reduce the safety of the procedure. Some require pre-anaesthetic blood testing. Once anaesthetised, patients are given intravenous fluid support while anaesthetic depth, blood oxygen levels, heart rate, blood pressure and core body temperature are monitored continuously. We use isoflurane gas anaesthesia for maintaining all patients due to its improved safety and all patients are induced with short-acting anaesthetics for improved recoveries.
Please ask us to show you our facilities before you book in your pet and read our Guide to Anaesthetic Safety in Dogs.
All dogs should have a microchip implanted at some stage early in their life. The widespread use of microchips in our area has made dog pounds and unclaimed dogs almost a thing of the past. Microchipping can be performed in most dogs without an anaesthetic but is often done at the same time as desexing. It is standard practice to place a “M” tattoo in the ear at the same time or with the next anaesthetic. However, a tattoo is not considered absolutely necessary.
The picture shows the new mini chips next to the older standard microchip. The cost is the same and inserting them causes less discomfort. It is a permanent and safe identification method at a minimal cost. Your dog’s council registration will give a small discount for microchipping which should mostly offset the cost of the chip over your dog’s lifetime.
Behaviour and Management
Dogs are social animals and for their best welfare need to be included in their owners’ lifestyles as much as possible. For this reason, choosing the right breed matters. All dogs should be exercised daily- having a large yard is no substitute for the stimulation and companionship of walking and dogs will often need to be encouraged to exercise. Dogs love routine and order in their lives and benefit from clear and consistent expectations from their owners. Most dogs enjoy dog obedience and training classes for this reason.
Experts in dog behaviour are often quoted saying “don’t blame the dog” when there’s a behaviour problem. Nuisance barking, anxiety, destructive behaviour, aggression, house soiling all have their origins in the way an owner has raised their dog and how they provide for their essential needs. There is no dog who is born bad, and any puppy can be raised to be a model canine citizen with the right advice and training. Remember that we are here to help and will not judge someone badly who seeks our advice. We do our best to set puppies on the right track as well as advise on correcting behaviour problems. Ask us as soon as possible if a problem appears.
Early socialisation of puppies before 16 weeks is very important for a well-rounded and less fearful adult. Exposure to a wide range of ‘normal’ experiences includes a range of people of both sexes and children, well-behaved (healthy) dogs and cats, and other puppies or kittens. Also they need to get used to normal daily items like vacuum cleaners and lawn mowers. For dogs, puppy preschool is the single most important part of early socialisation.