Your 6-Month Health Check

By Gemma Hopkins on 15 December 2017

Happy half year birthday to your gorgeous puppy. Time flies rapidly, your growing furry baby will be so much bigger already, I hope all is going well and your puppy is settling in well at home. Now is the time to start thinking about making that all-important 6-month puppy health check, or as I call it, an adolescent health check-up with your vet. So called, as this is around the time your female puppy may start her first season. This milestone is an important time for your puppy to be examined by your vet to ensure they are growing and developing as they should and provide an opportunity to review their parasite and worming control and ensure your puppy has the right prescription for their weight as they will be growing almost daily.

What should I expect at my puppy health check?

Review your Puppy’s Vaccination Status

During the puppy health check, your vet is likely to check your dog is all up to date with their primary vaccination course; they would typically have had between 7-16 weeks old. If your puppy hasn’t already had a vaccination against kennel cough this would be a good time to discuss it. This is one of the most contagious diseases dogs can get. Its name is very misleading as it is certainly not confined to being spread in kennels. Any dog who meets another dog and shares the same airspace could potentially contract kennel cough. Hence it is recommended for any dogs who regularly meet other dogs, whether it be on walks, at dog training classes, agility, or in kennels to be protected.

Full Health Examination

It will also be an important opportunity for a full nose to tail puppy health check; in addition to examining inside your pup’s mouth to ensure all your puppy’s teeth are coming through as they should, also examining for any possible hernias they could have been born with, but can become more obvious as they grow. Examining their heart, to check there are no heart murmurs that may have been missed when they were tiny, also in male pups examining to ensure both testicles are fully descended.

Examine your Puppy’s Teeth

What will my vet be looking for when examining my puppy’s teeth?

Your vet will examine your puppy’s teeth to ensure their adult, permanent teeth are erupting as they should and that as these adult teeth come through, the deciduous (baby) teeth have fallen out to allow space for the permanent teeth.

By 6 months old, your pup’s permanent canines erupt. Permanent premolars erupt at 4 to 6 months and the molars erupt at 5 to 7 months of age. Most breeds will show all their permanent teeth between the ages of 6 to 7 months of age. If you haven’t started already, this is a perfect age to start regularly brushing your puppy’s teeth, as these are the teeth your puppy will have for the rest of their life so it is important to care for them properly.

Review pup’s parasite control

As your puppy will be regularly going out and probably frequenting many different environments, from your garden, to the town centre, parks, possibly woodlands and maybe weekends away. It is important to review your parasite control to ensure it provides comprehensive cover against all the parasites that could potentially infect them.
What are the key parasites I need to worry about?

  • Fleas
    It is important to administer year-round flea control, as with central heating fleas are now a problem all year. Ideally choosing a product that kills fleas fast before they have a chance to lay eggs, to help effectively reduce the build-up in your home.
  • Ticks
    Again, it is important to provide effective tick control against the key species of ticks that can affect dogs in the UK all year round, as with warmer winters and wetter summers ticks can thrive all year. Importantly remembering ticks aren’t just found in rural areas and woodlands, they are also commonly found in urban environments too.
  • Worms
    Importantly providing regular roundworm control to help reduce the risks of toxocariosis, which is a zoonotic disease, in other words if your dog has Toxocara, it could affect you and/or other members of your family, particularly at risk are young children. Hence treating your dogs with a roundworm control every month will significantly reduce this risk and help to reduce the worm burden in the environment.
  • Lungworm
    Lungworm is a type of parasitic worm called Angiostrongylus Vasorum, it can affect dogs, foxes and badgers. Unlike many other diseases, lungworm is not passed from dog to dog. The worm grows and develops in slugs and snails. Importantly not all snails and slugs carry the worm, it appears to be more common in pockets of the UK, more so in southern areas. Dogs can become infected from eating an infected slug or snail, let your vet know if your pup likes to make a habit of this and if your vet is concerned that your pup is at risk they will ensure your parasite control includes prevention against lungworm.
  • Mites
    It can be beneficial to choose a product that effectively treats some of common mites that can affect dogs’ including sarcoptes (mange mite), demodex (mange mite) and otodectes (ear mite).
    Your vet will be the best person to recommend an effective product/s that covers the key parasites to help protect your dog.

Discussing neutering

During this consultation, your vet will discuss the option of neutering your puppy and when the best time is for him or her. If you’re are not intending to breed, it is beneficial to neuter dogs to reduce the risks of associated potentially very serious medical problems, including reducing the risks of mammary tumours and pyometras (infections in the womb) in bitches and testicular cancers in males.

Discussing your puppy’s diet and training

It is also a good opportunity to discuss your puppy’s diet, and gain any advice from your vet. Your vet may also be able to recommend local puppy training classes which can be very helpful for the development of your pup.
As your puppy is growing up so fast, now is the ideal time to see your vet to have the important opportunity for your puppy to be fully examined ensure they are in tip top health and for your vet to give you their expert advice.

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Gemma Hopkins BVetMed, CertVC, MRCVS, RCVS Advanced Practitioner in Veterinary Cardiology


Gemma holds an RCVS Certificate in Veterinary Cardiology and continues to work part time in practice to remain up to date and continue her interest in cardiology