All dogs must receive immediate veterinary attention when they are sick or injured. In most cases unnecessary pain and injury can be prevented through regular visits to a veterinarian.
This law is called the Animal Welfare Act. The Animal Welfare Act outlines how people must take care of and act towards animals in New Zealand. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), the Police and SPCA work together to make sure people in New Zealand follow these laws.
Under the Animal Welfare Act, all animal guardians (owners) are responsible for making sure the welfare needs of animals in their care are met. Learning about the Five Domains helps us to understand these welfare needs and how we can make sure we provide these. One of the Five Domains is Health. In this section you will learn about this domain and how you can make sure your dog or puppy has the right veterinary care to be healthy.
Just like you have a family doctor that you see when you are unwell, your dog needs their own doctor too - a veterinarian is an animal doctor.
It’s a good idea for your family to find out which veterinarian they plan on using before you get your dog or puppy. Ask your friends that are dog owners which veterinarians they recommend. If possible, visit the clinic beforehand and look around. Ask yourself: is the waiting area clean, are the staff helpful? Find out the opening hours and if they handle emergencies after hours as well.
Once you get a new dog or puppy, your family should register him or her with your chosen local veterinary clinic straight away. Make an appointment as soon as you can for a check-up. Your vet can then create a care programme for your dog or puppy. It is helpful to write a list of the questions you want to ask so everything can be covered.
One of the easiest ways to help your dog stay healthy is to make sure they get vaccinated - vaccinations ensure that they are protected against diseases.
Vaccinations protect animals against diseases that can cause pain and distress, and that are often deadly.
Getting your dog vaccinated against preventable diseases is a vital part of responsible pet care. By vaccinating your dog, your family can have peace of mind knowing your dog is well protected.
A vaccination works by introducing small amounts of the bugs which cause the diseases to your dog’s immune system. This causes your dog’s immune system to create antibodies. This means that if your dog meets any of the diseases for real, his immune system will know how to deal with them, therefore protecting him.
Your dog should receive a ‘primary’ vaccination course early in life, followed by ‘booster’ vaccinations throughout its life.
Your veterinarian will tell your family the vaccinations that are needed for your dog and will remind you when your dog’s yearly booster injection is needed – another reason why your dog must be registered with a veterinarian.
This is important to help protect your puppy from diseases before they start meeting other animals.
Puppies should be with their mother until 8 weeks of age and then go to their new home. You should then contact your vet to find out when they can be vaccinated.
All puppies will need their first vaccination – and then one or two more over the next month or so, depending on your vet’s advice.
People often think a trip to the vet as something only needed when your dog becomes unwell, however it is also important to remember that annual health checks are important for your dog’s wellbeing. These annual checks are a great way to detect any small problems before they become more serious.
During this 15 - 20-minute appointment, your veterinarian will carefully examine your dog’s entire body – from the tips of his ears, the pads on his paws, to the top of his tail! Your veterinarian will also discuss any concerns you have regarding your dog’s health, diet and behaviour.
There are already more dogs than there are good homes for them, so please don't let your dog have puppies!
Dogs should be spayed (females) or neutered (males) when they are around four (4) – six (6) months old.
If your dog ever shows any signs of injury or ill health, an adult must take them to their vet immediately. If it is late at night or on the weekend and your vet is closed – there are awesome after hour clinics available for emergencies.
If you find an animal that doesn’t belong to you, you need to call Animal Control immediately. If you find a animal that shows signs of sickness or injury, get an adult to contact your local SPCA immediately.
Remember to always find an adult before you approach any dog that appears sick or injured – even your own dog. Dogs may respond differently because they are in pain.
Looking after our dogs’ teeth is just as important as looking after our own!
Puppies will start to lose their baby teeth around three months of age. You may find they want to bite things more so be sure to provide plenty of suitable toys for them to chew. They normally have a full set of adult teeth around six months of age.
An adult can brush your dog’s teeth using pet toothpaste to keep their teeth clean and healthy.
There are also specially designed chews and toys available to help clean your dog’s teeth.
At SPCA we recommend your family take out pet insurance to save thousands of dollars should something happen to your dog.
While most dog owners will have worked out vet costs, such as vaccinations and worming, it is the out-of-the-ordinary expenses that can catch you out. For example, you could spend thousands of dollars on treatment for a road accident, so taking out pet insurance helps you budget for the unexpected.
Dog grooming is one of your dog's basic needs and an important part of dog ownership. Just like people, dogs need grooming to look and feel their best.
You probably wouldn’t feel too great if you went months without having a wash, combing your hair or brushing your teeth! Well a dog is the same. Fortunately, however, dogs do not need to bathe as often as people. But you do need to learn how much grooming your dog actually needs and keep it on a schedule.
A dog’s grooming needs depends on their breed and hair type. Long-haired dogs usually require daily brushing to prevent matting and tangling of hair. Medium-haired dogs may be prone to matting and tangles and should be brushed at least weekly. Short-haired dogs can typically go a few weeks in-between brushing. Dogs with continuously growing hair, such as the Poodle or Shih Tzu, typically need their hair cut every 2-4 weeks depending on the breed of the dog and the style of the cut. This task is often best left to professional groomers, though many dog owners are able to learn some basic maintenance haircuts.
If you and your caregivers are interested in learning professional dog grooming skills, encourage an adult in your family to sign up for some dog grooming classes.
Your dog’s veterinarian will know the grooming needs of your dog, so make sure you ask them if you are ever unsure.
Just like your toe nails and your finger nails, some dog’s nails need regular trims – especially if they don’t walk on concrete that often. Concrete can work a bit like a nail file on a dog’s nails and wear them down as they walk along. Most dogs dislike even having their paws handled and know how much it hurts when nails are cut too short, so the best way to avoid this is for adults to learn how to trim nails correctly and do so very carefully. Ideally, a veterinary or dog groomer should teach an adult how to trim your dog's nails properly.
You can also gently play with a puppy’s toes and paws when they are young – this helps later in life as the dog will not feel stressed when an adult wants to trim their nails.
Bath time! Some dogs love it and others hate it! Learning how to help adults in your home bathe your dog properly will make the experience as positive as possible for you and your dog. Most dogs should be bathed monthly. Always use a soap-free shampoo that is intended for dogs though. Depending on the condition of your dog’s skin and coat, your veterinarian may recommend a specific shampoo. In this case, be sure to follow your veterinarian’s instructions about bathing.
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