Dog Owner's Guide

Initial veterinary matters for your dog

The information given in this section is for the general knowledge of dog owners and is not meant to substitute advice from a qualified veterinarian. The reader is advised to find out more information by research and consulting a veterinarian. Always consult a veterinarian if in doubt.

When you get your new puppy or dog, health should be one of your main concerns. Taking your dog for regular veterinary checkups is vital in ensuring that your pet is healthy and happy. Ideally, you should bring your new dog for a veterinary check up within the first few days of taking him home. If you have adopted your dog and he has had previous vaccinations, be sure to obtain the papers from the previous owner. If the pet store or breeder you purchased your pet from claims to have given your dog vaccinations, do remember to obtain the papers as well.

All important papers, including your dog's license, pedigree certificate, previous vaccinations, micro-chip information and other health related papers should be kept in a file which you can access easily. It is also advisable to keep contact details of a 24-hour veterinary clinic in that file, in case of emergencies. Here are some of the things you should discuss with your veterinarian.

If you have a puppy, the first veterinary consult should cover the following:

  • A general physical exam
  • A discussion on any health concerns
  • A check for parasites
  • Deworming

On top of that, you should discuss the following with your vet:

  • Inform him of your puppy's housing, previous vaccinations and deworming, and any special purposes you have for the dog such as field work, showing, search and rescue, etc.
  • Heartworm prevention and start your puppy on a preventive
  • Vaccinations necessary for your puppy
  • Diet and nutrition
  • Grooming concerns you may have (nails, skin, coat, and ears)
  • Daily care such as brushing teeth
  • Flea and tick control medications
  • Normal puppy behavior, teaching commands, and any behavior problems such as biting at hands; discuss puppy training classes
  • Housetraining concerns
  • Introducing your puppy to other pets in your family, and to children

If you have an adult dog:

  • Ensure that you obtain information about the dog's previous vaccinations and healthcare.
  • Follow up on all vaccinations your dog has not received
  • Find out if the dog has any pre-existing allergies or health conditions that you will need to get treated.
  • Consider sterilising your dog if he has been spayed.

Vaccinations

Vaccinating your new dog is a good idea if he is not vaccinated in the first place, but do take note of which vaccines your vet is giving him. Most vets in Singapore give a multi-valent kind of vaccine, which comprises of vaccines against multiple diseases in one single shot. After the initial shot, annual boosters are supposed to be given, although for some vaccines, a three-year booster interval is recommended.

Vaccinations introduce modified or dead forms of the disease-causing organisms so that your dog's immune system can mount an immune response, "remembering" these organisms and if the real organisms are encountered in future, the immune system can be better prepared to fight them off. Booster shots are sort of like "refresher courses" to your dog's immune system as the "memory" of fighting of these organisms tend to fade away as time passes, although immunity to certain diseases remain above the acceptable levels for many years. It also varies with each dog's immune system.

Rabies vaccines are required by Singapore law and should be administered for dogs between 12-20 weeks, depending on your vet. Dogs are also required to have routine vaccinations (more than two weeks, less than one year) for distemper, hepatitis and parvovirus.