Be sure you’re ready for your new addition before you bring him or her home. Important things to consider include feeding the right diet, puppy-proofing your house, house training, providing exercise, socialization and more.
While puppies come in all sizes and breeds, all breeds have many things in common, such as basic care, health precautions, and training.
The following are tips our veterinarians have compiled on the most common topics that new owners ask about:
It is usually necessary and not harmful to routinely deworm puppies. Because most puppies will get roundworms from their mothers during nursing or across the placenta during development, they should all be dewormed twice, approximately 3 weeks apart. Broad spectrum dewormers are used for routine deworming in puppies as well as adult dogs to prevent the stress of worms on their body.
All puppies need exercise. Puppies do well if they can run freely in a safe, enclosed yard. Walking and gentle jogging on leash are also good exercise, as is swimming. Playing “fetch” in a fenced area or on a long leash is one way to exercise a dog without having to do much exercise yourself. It is fine to let your dog play, in a supervised and safe environment, with other dogs that are close to its same size.
IMPORTANT NOTE: It is important to keep your puppy away from public parks or areas of grass and dirt where other unknown dogs may have defecated due to the risk of parvovirus. Parvovirus is a terrible virus causing vomiting and diarrhea and possibly death. The virus can live in the environment for years; however fully vaccinated dogs are immune to it.
The most effective time to begin training your puppy is NOW. Training is best accomplished by attending a class with your puppy. Early socialization is CRITICAL. This means socialization with humans, dogs, and other animals. Look for training clubs, schools, and private trainers for your puppy.
This is a time of great advances in the area of flea and tick control products. There are a wide variety of products available at this time. Some of the products are safe to use on puppies. Ask your veterinarian which of the products may suit your needs.
It is highly recommended to spay and neuter all animals that are not intended for breeding. In female dogs, spaying prevents heat cycles from occurring approximately every 5 months, and if performed before the first or second heat cycle, lowers the chance of mammary cancer. Spaying also prevents pyometra (a life-threatening uterine infection) and, most importantly, pregnancy and unwanted or poorly bred puppies. We recommend spaying females at about 5-6 months of age. Males should be neutered to prevent unwanted pregnancies and to lower the likelihood of prostate problems. Further, neutering inhibits the urge to run away in search of females and helps you avoid some behavioral issues, such as aggression and/or dominance.
Your puppy will do well on two feedings a day (feeding three times a day is not necessary, but is OK if the puppy is under 16 weeks of age). Occasionally, some of the toy breeds need to be fed numerous small meals throughout the day, due to a low blood sugar condition. Your veterinarian will advise you if your puppy needs to eat more frequently. Adult dog food contains all the nutrients that puppies and adult dogs need. You may feed your small breed puppy either adult or puppy dry food, if you wish. Large breed puppies should eat large breed puppy food or adult food to help avoid developmental bone diseases.
You may feed the food dry or you can dampen it with warm water. A very young puppy may need its kibble softened, but older pups can eat crunchy food. Your puppy should eat quickly and act slightly hungry when it is finished. A puppy should take no longer than 10 minutes to finish a meal. Most will finish the meal in a minute or so. If your puppy takes longer, or if it walks away while there is still food in the bowl, then you are probably feeding too much food.
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