Keeping your dog happy and healthy

Our vets and veterinary nurses have put together this handy section to provide a quick and easy guide to the health care required by your dog to keep them fit, healthy and active.

acupuncture for pets at Charter Vets in North Devon

Socialisation of puppies

Aside from your pup’s basic health and nutritional needs, one of the most important things you can do to set a young dog up in life is to ensure appropriate socialisation and correct training. Puppies, like humans, aren’t born with the skills required to live harmoniously with their new family. As their owner, it is your responsibility to ensure they are exposed to the right situations and understand the behavioural boundaries they must adhere to, to ensure a peaceful and happy existence for all involved!

Correct socialisation in the early stages of your dog’s life will help them feel confident in their environment, able to communicate appropriately with other dogs they meet, and understand their role and what is expected of them – be that as a companion, family pet or a working dog. We ask a lot of our dogs – they have to become fluent not only in their own, canine language but in our human world too!


The initial course of vaccinations can begin from 6 weeks of age and can be completed as early as 10 weeks old. After that an annual booster is required.

The diseases covered by the vaccinations are:

  • Distemper
  • Parvovirus
  • Parainfluenza
  • Leptospirosis

For information about why vaccinations are so important click here.

Worming for puppies

On collection of your puppy, it is vital that you check with the breeder if they have administered any worming or flea preparations prior to you taking the puppy home. This enables us to be clear on when your next worming dose is due.

Worming for dogs from 6 months

The worming requirements for adult dogs will depend on what flea control you are using. Please speak to any of our healthcare team for details.

Flea treatment

Fleas are a major problem to deal with once they have taken over your house, so prevention all year round is the key to a flea free home.


Ticks are another common problem that every dog owner needs to be aware of.

Tick-borne disease is an increasing risk to UK dogs and their owners.  Ticks can transmit serious diseases such as Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis and Ehrlichiosis. Some of these can be deadly. If you regularly walk through long grass, parks, meadows or woodland, it may only be a matter of time before your dog is exposed to ticks.  Once attached to your dog’s skin, ticks engorge themselves on your pet’s blood and it’s during this time that ticks can transmit deadly diseases.

Whilst feeding, they look like warts and grow in size, and although they will eventually fall off when full, quick removal is essential.

Certain flea treatments can prevent and kill ticks, so ask your vet for advice on which one would be best for your dog.


Neutering has many benefits for male and female dogs. Neutering stops dogs from having unwanted puppies and reduces their chances of developing illnesses. In female dogs it reduces the risk of breast cancer and prevents a potentially life-threatening condition called a pyometra (a serious infection in the womb). In male dogs neutering protects from testicular cancer and diseases of the prostate gland.

  • Males – can be castrated from 6 months of age. The testicles are completely removed.
  • Females – can be spayed from 6 months of age or midway between the first and second season. The uterus and ovaries are completely removed.

All dogs undergo a free pre-operative check-up to ensure the time chosen for their neutering operation is appropriate as each dog is different and will mature at differing rates.

Micro-chipping and identification

Every year more than 300,000 treasured pets go missing. Pets can go missing for a variety of reasons: they become scared during and run away the firework season or a heavy thunderstorm, wander too far from a new house and being naturally inquisitive, can easily become lost whilst investigating different noises or smells.

Having a microchip implanted is quick, simple and very cost effective. It will give you peace of mind if your dog does become lost, you will have more chance of being reunited faster. You also avoid the possibility of your dog being rehomed or kept in a shelter.

Since 2016, it is compulsory for every dog owner to have their dogs microchipped. Not all microchips are the same and in the past pets have had to be re-chipped, due to chips not functioning. There are some really cheap micro chips on the market and promotions run at rehoming centres, we have taken the decision to not use these budget chips and in favour of one that we hope should last for the lifetime of your pet without problems.

Here at Charter Vets all registered dogs receive a complimentary Charter pet tag, on which is engraved our telephone number. This means, should anyone find your dog, lost or hurt, they have a 24-hour number on which to contact us. We will coordinate any emergency treatment necessary and take care of your cat until we can contact you.

Do I really need a tags for my dog’s collar?

In the UK, the Control of Dogs Order 1992 states that any dog in a public place must wear a collar with the name and address (including postcode) of the owner engraved or written on it, or on a tag. Your telephone number is optional (but we would recommend this). You can be fined up to £5,000 if your dog does not wear an identification tag.

You do not legally have to put your dogs name on the tag. Unfortunately dog theft is a real danger and if the thief knows the name of your dog this may help them pass on the dog to unsuspecting new owners because the dog responds to its name. We would recommend, you do not put your dogs name on the tag. All pets registered at Charter Vets receive a free emergency pet tag (which you can get engraved).

Older dogs

Once a dog has reached 7 years of age they enter their ‘senior’ years. Changes start to occur and body systems and organs such as the brain and kidneys start to work less effectively. Many people shrug this off and put it down to old age, when in fact there is a lot of help and support we can give your dog through these years.

Please contact any of our surgeries for more information or to arrange a ‘senior’ health assessment with one of our nurses.

Behaviour Advice

  • Click here for toilet training advice
  • Click here for socialising your puppy advice
  • Click here for advice on dealing with separation anxiety

Ear cleaning

Outer ear disease in dogs is very common. Keep ears clean and fresh with our recommended ear cleaner “Malacetic” every 2-4 weeks, wiping out the excess with cotton wool or wet wipes.


Older pets with anything but the shortest hair can get matted, familiarise your dogs with being groomed from a young age. Most dogs love it.

Dental care

Regular brushing with dog toothpaste as least weekly but even better daily, is the best way to keep your dogs teeth clean and breath fresh.

Professional Pet Care

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Pet owners trust us to look after the needs of their beloved companions. We are committed to delivering the very highest of veterinary care and affection.

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