I just got a puppy. How often will he need to visit the vet?

Congratulations on your new fur baby. Puppies are a bundle of fun but they do come with a lot of responsibility and as a new pet parent there are many things you need to do to ensure they remain healthy and happy. In their first year, puppies will need to visit the vet multiple times for healthcare advice, preventative health care, vaccinations and desexing. We love to see them for just cuddles too!

So what essential health care does your new puppy need?


Vaccination is the best way to protect your pup from serious infectious diseases. Most of the diseases we vaccinate against have no specific cure or where treatment is available it can be prolonged, costly and often unsuccessful. Puppies require a course of vaccinations starting from 6 to 8 weeks of age to 16 weeks of age. After this initial course, yearly boosters are essential to maintain immunity and annual visits to the vets provide an opportunity to discuss any issues or concerns you may have about your pet’s health.

All dogs should be vaccinated against Distemper, Parvovirus, Hepatitis and Kennel Cough. We also recommend vaccination against Leptospirosis and Tetanus to all at risk dogs. Leptospirosis and tetanus vaccinations are recommended if your dog lives, plays or hunts near cane, bush, farms and creeks or comes into contact with wildlife, rats or rat’s urine, or horses.

Intestinal worming

Intestinal Worms are common and can cause illness or even death in pets. Not only do worms make your pet sick, they represent a serious health risk for humans as well. Children especially are most at risk of infection as they are often closest to the family pet. The good news is worms can be easily prevented by regular worming. Puppies should be regularly wormed at 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 weeks of age, then monthly until they are 6 months old. From 6 months dogs should be wormed every three months.

Heartworm preventative

Heartworm is a worm which lives in the heart and blood vessels of dogs. Transmitted by mosquitoes, it has the potential to cause serious, chronic and fatal heart and lung disease in unprotected pets. Unfortunately, heartworm disease is on the rise with over 178 cases in Northern Queensland reported already this year. Whilst there are many products available to prevent heartworm we recommend proheart injection because even missing one dose of a monthly preventative can put your dog at risk. Your pup will require a few injections in their first year and then annually thereafter.

Tick preventative

There are two species of ticks that are common in North Queensland, the brown dog tick and the paralysis tick. The brown dog tick, in most cases, is harmless, however they can cause skin irritation and in high numbers, anaemia. The paralysis tick is deadly. During feeding, this tick releases a neurotoxin which interferes with the muscles and nerves causing life threatening paralysis. There are numerous products available to prevent ticks and we recommend you talk to our vets who will recommend the best product for your puppy.

Flea preventative

Fleas can be a major issue for pets and their owners. These blood sucking parasites are not only a nuisance but cause considerable discomfort. The high humidity and temperatures in the tropics create the perfect environment for rapid hatching which results in severe flea infestations. When controlling fleas it is important to treat not only the adult flea but the juvenile stages in the environment as well. There are numerous products available to prevent fleas (some also include tick control) and we recommend you talk to our vets who will recommend the best product for your puppy.


Desexing is a surgical procedure performed under general anaesthesia, which prevents sexual and reproductive behaviour and related health and behaviour problems. In males the surgery, called a Castration, involves the removal of the testicles. In females the surgery, called a Spey, involves the removal of both the ovaries and the uterus. We often receive phone calls from pet owners ringing around for the cheapest price for desexings but as desexing is a major surgery, the cheapest price is often not the best for your pet. Desexings at the Cairns Vet Clinic are safe and comfortable, because we include modern analgesic/anaesthetic protocols, catheterisation, intravenous fluid therapy, proper intra-operative monitoring, take-home pain relief, and an Elizabethan collar, all as standard. The best time to desex your puppy is between 3 and 6 months of age.

Feeding your puppy

Good nutrition is essential in keeping your pet healthy. Combined with regular exercise and veterinary check-ups, feeding a well-balanced diet promotes healthy teeth, skin and coat, strong well developed bones, bright clear eyes, good muscle tone, firmer smaller stools, increased energy as well as improved quality of life and longevity. We recommend Hill’s Science Diet Vet Essentials diet range which has been developed to provide a large range of health support for your pet. Your puppy should be fed four times a day until they are 12 weeks of age and then twice daily until they are 6 months. Adult dogs only need to be fed once daily. Always ensure clean fresh water is available.

As a pet owner you are responsible for not only your puppy’s health but their behaviour as well. We strongly recommend you begin obedience and socialisation training as soon as you bring your pup home. Exposing your puppy to as many situations as possible in the first year of age ensures they develop normal, adaptive responses to current and new situations later in life. Make training sessions fun with lots of treats and praise for your puppy.

Start with easy commands such as “sit” and gradually work yourself and your pup up to more difficult tasks. Puppies respond to positive reinforcement rather than punishment so if you catch your puppy misbehaving, quickly correct them and always praise them for the right behaviour. The key to toilet training is to frequently take your puppy to the designated toileting area especially after waking, excitement, drinking water, eating and prolonged playing. Watch for the signs of pre elimination (sniffing around etc.) and when seen, immediately take them to the designated area. Remember to reward and give praise.

We also recommend that you play with your puppy’s ears, feet, mouth etc as this will acclimate your puppy to future veterinary exams, nail trims and grooming etc.

Give your puppy the best start with Cairns Veterinary Clinic’s Puppy Preschool. Enrolling your pup in puppy preschool is a great way to get your pup on the right track to becoming a happy and well-adjusted member of the family whilst providing basic obedience and essential early socialisation.

At Cairns Veterinary Clinic you can enjoy a range of benefits and discounts to help you keep your pet healthy by joining our platinum paws club.

Simply have your pet’s vaccinations at either of our clinics and your pet will be rewarded with a free 12 month membership to our exclusive club and you will be able to access some great benefits to make your pet’s healthcare more affordable.

For more information about our platinum paws club and puppy preschool, see our website www.cairnsvet.com.au or call us on 4032 9999.

Cairns Veterinary Clinic is proud to have been caring for Cairns furry family members since 1966. With 2 convenient locations, Pease Street and Norman Street, Gordonvale, our clinics are staffed by a great team of hard working and dedicated veterinary professionals who treat your pets as if they are their own. With a vet available 24/7 365 days per year, we are always here when you need us. Contact our friendly staff for all your pet’s healthcare needs.



o Vaccinations

o Heartworm Preventative

o Flea Preventative

o Tick Preventative

o Intestinal Worming

o Microchip

o Desexing appointment made

o Dental care

o Pet Insurance

o Puppy preschool booking



o Puppy food

o Low fat treats

o Food and water containers (preferably not plastic)

o Crate/pen

o Collar and lead

o Identification tag

o Bed

o Appropriate Shampoo and Conditioner

o Chew toys

o Training Manuals

o Council registration

o Grooming supplies

o Restraint harness for the car

o Poop Bags