The Adolescent dog
An adolescent dog has had his primary puppy vaccinations and is now venturing out into the big wide world.
He/ she is also developing individual characteristics. Veterinary practices that have nurse clinics find that an adolescent check provides a good opportunity for many dog owners to have their questions answered.
Routine worming remains important throughout life, although the products used and frequency of administration may vary from those given as a puppy. Worming is generally recommended monthly from 3 – 6 months of age and then subsequently every 3-6 months depending on particular risks. More frequent worming may be recommended if hydatid disease is a special risk. The choice of product may also depend on whether “lungworm” is considered a particular problem in your area.
Flea / parasite control
This remains important throughout life, especially as the young dog is now going outside and is being exposed to new sources of infestation. Fleas certainly need control, as you would want to prevent introducing them to your home environment. Many anti-parasite treatments will be effective against a range of parasites, and the particular choice may reflect what is considered a bigger risk in your area (eg: ticks or sarcoptic mange?).
The important thing to remember though is that treatment for parasites, be they worms or skin parasites, is aimed at control rather than cure so is an on-going process.
The adolescent dog is still growing and so needs the same balance of nutrients as a puppy. Care must be taken with growing dogs of the giant breeds not to over-supplement, as too many vitamins and minerals can be as harmful as not enough; the secret is to give the correct balance.
Educating and training your dog is a process that never stops. The key is a consistent message. It is not uncommon for people to make big efforts when the dog is a puppy, but then relax and undo all the good work that has been done.
Neutering should be considered during this period if you have decided you do not wish to breed from your dog in the future. Find out more about neutering.
The baby teeth will be lost and the adult teeth erupt during the adolescent period. Sometimes the baby teeth are retained which pushes the emerging adult tooth out of alignment.
Alternatively both teeth remain side-by-side and form a pocket for debris to collect which encourages tooth decay.
Now the adult teeth are present without any plaque or decay, this is the ideal time to start dental brushing to prevent problems later in life. Veterinary practices with nurses will be able to demonstrate how you can best do this.
This is a mandatory requirement for all dogs in many countries in mainland Europe. However, in the UK it is only required for dogs that are intended to travel within Europe. It is well worth finding out what is required (link to Pet Passport) and the risks of holiday travel well in advance of your intended holiday.
The adolescent dog is still growing and the joints are subject to a range of stresses. Normal exercise is essential for the correct development of bones, joints and muscles. However, excessive exercise (especially agility with significantly high jumps) could result in long term damage and no should be avoided.
There are a number of genetic joint problems that occur in a range of breeds. Large breeds may show hip dysplasia or degenerative conditions of the shoulder or elbow (osteochondrosis) that may result in lameness between 6 – 18 months of age.
Small breeds also have their own hip (Perthe’s Disease) and stifle (luxating patella) problems. These may lead to permanent changes in the joints so you should seek help from your veterinarian if you notice lameness problems at this age.