If there was a furry addition to your home for the holidays, we have some great tips and ideas on starting you puppy off on the right (paw) foot with good veterinary care.
There’s nothing quite like the joy and wonder that comes with a new puppy. Here are a few tips to help launch your puppy into a long and healthy life. Dr. Jennifer Pearson, WestVet Emergency and Critical Care, helped provide these quick tips. She says it all starts with routine and regular care with your family veterinarian.
Veterinary care. Your family veterinarian is an excellent resource to provide an initial health exam, recommendations for vaccinations, and information on preventative care for your new puppy including de-worming and heartworm medication. “Your family veterinarian will provide information on microchipping and spaying or neutering your dog,” says Dr. Pearson, “As well as general information on basic training and feeding and nutrition for your new pet.”
It’s important to remember that regardless how darling your new little friends is—and how much you want to show him off—until your puppy is fully vaccinated (usually at least 16 weeks of age), they should stay away from other dogs. “Any place where multiple dogs are interacting with an unknown vaccine history, there is a concern of Parvo Virus,” said Dr. Pearson. “This very hardy and dangerous virus can survive in the ground for many months; we actually see a large number of Parvo cases in the Treasure Valley.” Vaccines to ask about for your new puppy include the Parvo vaccine (combined with distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, corona, and leptospirosis), Rabies, and Bordetella, as well as the required booster injections. Your family veterinarian will assist you in creating a vaccine record and schedule for your puppy.
Introducing puppy to other pets. If you are a multi-pet household – and the Humane Society of the United States reports that in 2013, 20% of dog owners had two or more furry friends—you will want to introduce your new puppy into your home in a thoughtful and careful manner. First, a puppy should not be left unsupervised with the other animals. “It is better to introduce the puppy to the current pet on neutral ground with both dogs being restrained by a leash,” said Dr. Pearson, “One easy way is to utilize crates; one pet can be in a crate, with the other one loose in the house. This enables the dogs/cats to sniff each other through the kennel without risk of harm.” Next, using a separate crate, kennel the loose puppy and release the other dog/cat to enable them to have their turn to meet through the crate.
In addition to caution with existing pets, children must also be supervised when playing with their new puppy. Children younger than seven may not understand that their behavior and actions are hurting the puppy, inadvertently resulting in injury. “The most common accident we see is when puppies are accidentally dropped,” Dr. Pearson said. “Even from short distances, falling can result in head trauma, broken legs, and internal injuries including lung contusions or ruptured bladders.” On the other hand, puppies tend to nip and bite when playing and they may inadvertently break the skin on a child, bringing about the possibility of an infection. Dr. Pearson recommends that adults hold the puppy and allow children to pet him, or require children to sit with the puppy in their laps.
Crate training. Crate training is one of the best—and simplest—things you can do for your family and your puppy. Puppies that are crate trained can be left unsupervised for short periods. In addition, they will progress more quickly with house training and will travel more easily. Keep in mind that utilizing a crate is not a punishment for a dog—they actually enjoy the crate. Dr. Pearson says that dogs like having an area that is their ‘safe place’ and as they age, they will continue to sleep in their kennel and seek it out on their own.
To get started, use a command such as “kennel” when you want your puppy to enter the crate. After they comply, reward the puppy with a treat. “One thing that is critical when crate training, do not release the puppy from the crate or give him any attention or rewards when he is making noise or crying. Wait until the puppy settles down and exhibits the behaviors you want before you let him out and then reward him with positive attention and affection.”
Your puppies’ crate or kennel does not have to be very large, just big enough that they can stand up and turn around. As your puppy grows, adjust the crate size accordingly. As dogs do not like to eliminate where they sleep, crate training is very useful for house training. Dr. Pearson says it’s best to take the puppy outside immediately to use the bathroom when you let them out of the crate. Make sure to reward accordingly.
In general, a puppy can stay in his kennel for one hour longer than how many months old he is; for example, a 2-month-old puppy should not be in a crate longer than 3 hours at a time. Be mindful that with young puppies a night time bathroom break will be needed.
Feeding routine. Again, your family veterinarian is an excellent source for the information on the appropriate diet and amount to feed your puppy. In general, puppies (similar to human infants) need to eat several times a day—the smaller the dog the more frequently they need to eat. “Large breed puppies need 3-4 meals daily, whereas small breed or teacup breeds need to eat 4-6 meals a day,” said Dr. Pearson. “As puppies age and develop their meals can be increased in size and decreased in frequency.”
Please note that small breed dogs are susceptible to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and smaller, frequent meals can help prevent that. Dr. Pearson says that if your puppy becomes weak, lethargic, or non-responsive you should place syrup (Karo syrup is most common) on their gums and take them immediately to a veterinarian.
Most important –puppies, like all pets, are more than just a gift, they are a lifetime commitment. Once you get settled into a good routine together you will be off to a wonderful journey of joy and memories.