Our advice on keeping your dog/puppy healthy

All the information you need for your dog.

Our wesbite provides you with a huge amount of information and advice for your dog. For any further details, please contact us.

Buying a New Puppy

At Rhodes Vets we love welcoming new puppies into the surgery and seeing what happiness they bring to their new families. We find it very sad in cases where a puppy has unexpected health or behavioural problems that might have arisen because it has come from an irresponsible breeder, or the new owners weren’t given the correct information about what to expect and how to care for their new arrival. Tragically this can lead to some puppies being re-homed.

A recent survey of 2000 puppy owners by CEVA Animal Health found that 59% said they were not completely prepared for the experience of having a new puppy and 40% of them did no research before acquiring the new puppy.

If you are thinking of expanding your family with a new puppy, then please call us for advice beforehand. We can advise you on what is involved in caring for a new puppy, in terms of both time and money required for feeding, vet appointments for vaccinations/worming/flea treatment/neutering, exercising and training, grooming and insurance amongst other things. We recommend you meet the breeder, see the mother with the new puppies and preferably the father as well and that you get as much information as you can regarding the parent’s health and temperament, any health screens they have had, e.g. hip scores, previous puppies they have bred and what has happened to them, their diet, flea and worm treatment, vaccinations and their general level of care and socialisation.

If you find the right breed and type of puppy that will suit your circumstances and understand how to care for them before they arrive, you can be confident that you will be gaining a fantastic new family member with whom you can share years of happy companionship.

We recommend using the Puppy Contract, a scheme introduced by BVA AWF (British Veterinary Association Animal Welfare Foundation) and the RSPCA and endorsed by several other welfare and animal charities e.g. Dogs Trust and PDSA. The contract is intended to be downloaded from their website and can be used for all puppies, pedigree or not, and by any breeder or seller, including rescue centres. It is designed to empower puppy buyers and help them avoid the problems that can arise from buying a puppy from an irresponsible breeder. For breeders and sellers, it records all the effort and attention they have devoted to their puppies’ breeding and care. We strongly recommend anyone thinking of breeding, selling or buying a puppy uses the puppy contract to guide your plans and ensure happy, healthy puppies go to responsible homes. For pedigree puppies we recommend using the excellent information resources on the Kennel Club website ( to find the right breeder and puppy for you.

You can also find lots of excellent information about health screening, breeding and caring for new puppies on the BVA AWF website ( which has links to many other resources.

Below are some further links you may find useful:


Primary Vaccination Course

The initial vaccination course for puppies consists of 2 injections given between 2 and 4 weeks apart and also an intra-nasal kennel cough vaccination. The course is normally started at 8 to 10 weeks of age. It can be started at 6 weeks of age, but the final injection cannot be given earlier than 10 weeks of age. We prefer you to have had your puppy for at least for a week before starting vaccinations, to ensure that he or she has a chance to settle in with you and is not incubating any illnesses.

The vaccination course includes a full health check with the vet and lots of advice about caring for your new arrival! We are happy to offer this health check free of charge as soon as you have got your puppy, to help give you peace of mind that everything is as it should be and then continue with the vaccination itself the following week.

Your puppy is not fully covered by his vaccinations until 7 days after his second injection. Before this time, it is not safe for him/her to mix with other dogs or go where other dogs have been. He/she will be fine in your own garden, provided this is fenced off from stray dogs, and also with other fully vaccinated dogs in your household.

The vaccinations provide protection against distemper, adenovirus (infectious hepatitis), parovirus and leptospirosis. The Kennel Cough vaccination protects against parainfluenza and bordetella.

After the primary vaccination course has been given, we will issue a certificate containing a record of your puppy’s vaccination. Please keep your own record of when the annual booster is due; we try to send out booster reminder cards but inevitably a few do not reach their destination.

Our full puppy vaccination course includes:

  • 2 vaccination injections (2-4 weeks apart)
  • Full health check by a qualified veterinary surgeon
  • 4 weeks free insurance with Petplan (cover effective immediately)

Annual Boosters

A yearly booster is important for maintaining your pet’s protection against the diseases mentioned above. The cost of a booster injection covers the cost of the vaccination and a ‘nose to tail’ health check by a fully qualified Veterinary Surgeon. They will also listen to your pet’s heart and lungs and examine their abdomen. With older animals, any signs of mobility problems, e.g. arthritis, is also checked. They will discuss their findings with you and explain any action they feel needs to be taken. A yearly booster vaccination also gives you the chance to discuss any concerns you may have about your pet’s health or behaviour.

Kennel Cough

We recommend that all dogs have an annual Kennel Cough vaccination as well as the normal annual booster. Despite the name, kennel cough can be caught anywhere and not just in boarding kennels. Your pet is likely to encounter the disease anywhere dogs meet, for example in the park, the street, dog shows, training classes etc. It is a highly infectious respiratory disease which circulates in the dog population all year round. It is a dry, retching, honking cough that affects dogs of all ages lasting from a few days to several weeks. We have a reduced price for Kennel Cough vaccinations, if you have it done at the same time of your normal annual booster. Please contact the surgery for more information.

Flea and Worm Control

Virtually all puppies are infected with worms at birth, mostly transmitted via the bitch’s milk. Regular worming is essential. If your puppy/dog has not been wormed since you have had him/her, please contact us for advice. If we see your dog regularly, (e.g. for his/her yearly check-up and booster vaccination), you will not need to see the veterinary surgeon before purchasing prescription wormers.

Effective flea control is also available only on prescription; if we have seen your dog within the last 12 months you do not need to see a veterinary surgeon to purchase this.

Our nurses are happy to provide free of charge monthly check-ups for puppies, to weigh them and administer appropriate worming treatment. They can also advise about toilet training, behaviour, diet and exercise.

We find the most effective and convenient method for flea and worm control is a monthly spot on product which combines the two and also covers ear mites, skin mites and lungworm*. You can only get this from a veterinary surgery. Please contact us for more information about this product. We can supply a range of different products to suit individual needs, including tablets and spot on treatments, products to treat the house for fleas and treatments for ticks and for pets travelling abroad.

We regularly see evidence in the surgery that using non-prescription products to try and treat worms and fleas, such as those from pet shops or supermarkets, doesn’t work well and can even be dangerous. Prescription products from us are much better and safer. In order to prescribe these products your dog has to have been seen by one of our vets within 12 months. Check-ups with a vet to prescribe these products are usually offered FREE OF CHARGE, unless your pet has another problem they need to see the vet about.

*Lungworm Did you know dogs can become infected with lungworm, which is a life threatening parasite. Eating infected slugs, snails or even frogs is how they become infected. Some dogs actually like to eat slugs and snail! Even if they don’t do so on purpose they can easily do so by accident, for example when a slug or snail is sitting on a favourite toy, when a dog eats grass or drinks from puddles, as the mucus-trail from slugs and snails can also transmit this infection.

Click here to go to the Lungworm website.
Please visit this website,, for more information on parasites.


The main part of your puppy’s diet should be a puppy-specific food. These differ from adult dog food in that the balance of proteins, vitamins and minerals is designed for growth. Puppy food should be fed until your dog is fully grown (this varies according to breed). We recommend and stock the highest quality foods (e.g. Hills, Royal Canin), as providing the best nutrition for your puppy is very important. Complete, dried diets are recommended as crunching on the dried food helps keep teeth from tartar. We recommend senior food for dogs over 8 years old.


We recommend neutering any dogs not intended for breeding use. This is done from 6 months of age onwards. In bitches, spaying is advisable at a young age as research has shown that this very much reduced the incidence of mammary tumours. In most cases, especially if your bitch will grow into a larger breed of dog (over 10kg in weight when adult), it is preferable to let her have a season before spaying. This can help reduce the risk of urinary incontinence developing later on. We recommend spaying 2-3 months after a season ends.

In male dogs, castration will prevent problems in later life such as prostate problems, testicular tumours and tumours around the anus. There is no upper age limit for neutering for a healthy dog/bitch. Neutering is also important to prevent unwanted puppies, and behavioural problems associated with hyper sexuality.


Pets benefit from regular dental hygiene just like we do. Dental disease is the most common disease seen in veterinary practice. 85% of cats and dogs will have some form of dental disease by the age of 3.

We offer free dental check-ups with a Veterinary Nurse to help you maintain good oral health for your pet throughout their life, including post-operative checks after any dental procedure. We also have a wide range of food, toothpastes and dental products available.

Dental problems are common in older dogs, so it is advisable to start on a programme of routine brushing as soon as possible; for more information, please contact one of our practices.


We strongly advise that you insure your puppy. Currently, PetPlan are offering 4 weeks’ free insurance to healthy puppies aged from 6 weeks to 12 months old, at their first vaccination, after which you will be given the option to continue insurance at the normal rate. Please ask the reception staff for a free insurance certificate when your puppy has his/her first vaccination. He/she will be covered immediately for illness or injury.

Adult dogs (over 12 months and up to 8 years old, depending on breed) can still enjoy 4 weeks free insurance from PetPlan, click on this link to take advantage of this offer.


At Rhodes Vets we have always been enthusiastic supporters of microchipping all pets. We frequently have lost and stray pets handed in to our surgeries, which we are able to reunite with their distraught owners because we can trace them from the microchip. If they were not chipped, we would often have no way of knowing where to start looking for their home. We have seen tragic cases where pets are lost and have not been microchipped because ‘they never go outside’ but a door was accidently left open and they escaped, or ‘they never go off the lead’ but the collar broke and they ran away. With no microchip they are anonymous. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you and your pet!

In the UK over 100,000 dogs stray, or are lost or stolen each year and many have to spend time in kennels before being rehomed, because their owners cannot be traced. 6,000 dogs have to be put down each year because their owners cannot be found. As of the 6th April 2016, the government has made it compulsory to have all dogs microchipped. This will be the responsibility of the owner, who must also ensure their contact details are kept up to date on centralised microchip databases.

Don’t run the risk of your pet getting lost without a microchip and having to be rehomed, or worse! We can implant a microchip, and register your pet’s details immediately online with the database, for just £12.50. This can be done alongside your pet’s vaccination, or neutering, or in a nurse clinic. Microchipping is free as part of our Pet Health Plan. Call the surgery today and book your pet in for a microchip. Give yourself peace of mind.


We will be happy to give you information regarding puppy training classes, some of which are run by Trudi Bament, our Far Cotton receptionist who has worked at Rhodes for over 20 years and runs Walkies. Please ask the reception staff for further details.

Breeding from your Dog or Bitch

If you have a bitch and are considering breeding from her, ask yourself the following questions before proceeding:

  • Have I got enough time to devote to looking after a litter of puppies until they go to their new homes (typically around 8 weeks old)?
  • Could I cope if she had a large litter that needed extra care and bottle feeding?
  • Am I knowledgeable enough to care for the puppies and advise new owners about caring for them, including diet, training and health problems?
  • Can I afford to pay for the recommended health test for the bitch prior to mating and possibly also for her litter?
  • Do I know enough to help the bitch during whelping?
  • Can I afford a caesarean if necessary?
  • Would I be able to find good homes for the puppies and take them back or re-home them if necessary?

If you can’t say yes to all these questions, then breeding may not be right for you and your bitch right now. It can be a huge emotional and financial undertaking for you and your family and a massive physical undertaking for your bitch. For most of us, who have a lovely bitch as a happy and healthy family pet, it will not be of benefit to her, or you, to enter into breeding on a whim. If you are really committed to investigating the possibility of breeding from your bitch then we would recommend that you make an appointment to see one of our vets, have your bitch checked over for anything that could affect her suitability for breeding and discuss the full ramifications of breeding from her. We have a number of excellent books on dog breeding you can purchase from the surgery.

Further Information About Breeding

As a general rule, a bitch should be at least 1.5-2 years old before she has her first litter. She should be in good health and of sound temperament without any undesirable or aggressive behaviours, neither over nor underweight, indentichipped and fully vaccinated and wormed regularly. If she is a pedigree bitch she should have had all the available screening test to identify possible inherited diseases within her breed. To find details of breed specific health schemes and testing go to Once you have identified which pre-breeding test your bitch will need, contact us to arrange those tests we can perform for you here at Rhodes Vets e.g. hip and elbow scoring. Certain tests have to be conducted by specialist vets e.g. eye examinations and we can advise you how to arrange this.

If you have a pedigree bitch we recommend she is registered with the Kennel Club and you follow best breeding practice by joining their assured breeder scheme. The requirements you must follow to comply with this scheme help encourage the breeding of happy, healthy, well-adjusted puppies and in turn you can benefit from the vast experience, advice and support of the Kennel Club to find your puppies a responsible new home . If you have a pedigree dog you wish to use for stud, the kennel club can provide lots of information about this also. They can also help you identify appropriate breeding partners for your dog or bitch at:

If you have a non-pedigree bitch, please still make use of the huge amount of valuable information on the Kennel Club website to help guide you in how to provide the best possible level of care for your bitch and her puppies. You can also find lots of excellent information about health screening, breeding and caring for new puppies on the British Veterinary Association Animal Welfare Foundation website ( which has links to many other resources.

The Puppy Contract, is a scheme introduced by BVA AWF and the RSPCA and endorsed by several other welfare and animal charities e.g. Dogs Trust and PDSA. This contract is intended to be downloaded from either their website and can be used for all puppies, pedigree or not, and by any breeder or seller, including rescue centres. It is designed to empower puppy buyers and help them avoid the problems that can arise from buying a puppy from an irresponsible breeder. For breeders and sellers, it records all the effort and attention they have devoted to their puppies’ breeding and care. We strongly recommend anyone thinking of breeding, selling or buying a puppy uses the puppy contract and/or assured breeder schemes to guide your plans and ensure happy, health puppies go to responsible homes.

The Veterinary Expert

With so much conflicting (and let’s face it scary) information on the internet, it’s always hard to tell what is true and false. Click on this link to find articles on various pet conditions and general information. This website has been set up to give information to pet owners and all information is written by Veterinary experts.