New puppy care covers a variety of topics and it is up to you to become informed about your puppy’s health care. One very important first step is to find yourself a veterinarian for your new puppy. It is always a good idea to ask people you know that have dogs to find out which vet they use for their puppy or dog and if they are happy with them.
Below are some topics of new puppy care that will help you make informed decisions about caring for your new furry friend.
There are a couple different feeding methods:
* One is to feed your puppy at scheduled meal times throughout the day
* The other is to set out the food all day and let them monitor themselves.
* Most recommendations I have seen do not agree with leaving the food out all day as many dogs will overeat and become an unhealthy weight which could lead to health problems.
* Another negative about leaving the food out all day is that when you are potty training your puppy you need to know when they ate so that you can take them to “go potty” at a certain amount of time after they eat but if you have no idea when they are eating then this will not work efficiently.
* With the Scheduled Meal Feeding method, you need to feed your puppy around the same times each day and only leave their food out for 30 minutes then pick it up. Make sure you measure out the portions to control how much is eaten and also so you know if they are eating enough.
* Puppies between 2 months and 6 months should be fed 3-4 times per day. Smaller meals are easier for your puppy to digest and the energy levels remain more steady with frequent meals.
* At around 6 months of age, this can drop down to 2 meals per day especially if your puppy is a small breed as they tend to mature faster than large dogs. If you have a large breed then you many want to continue to feed her 3 meals per day for a while longer than 6 months.
* Adult dogs can be fed their meals 2 times per day. These meals should all be fed at regularly scheduled times.
Your puppy will need to gradually switch to adult dog food once they start reaching maturity. Again, smaller breeds reach adult maturity sooner than large breeds. This is something you can ask your vet about for your particular puppy.
Puppy food is very high in calories and nutrional supplements so you do not want to keep feeding this to your adult dog as they will become overweight which can lead to health problems.
* Yes, intestinal parasites such as worms are common in puppies. Puppies can be infected by some types of intestinal worms before they are born or as newborn’s from their mother’s milk.
* During your first vet visits with your new pup, they can do a microscopic examination of your pup’s stool sample to determine if your puppy has these parasites.
* Even if your vet does not do this examination, a good step to follow for new puppy care generally is to use the de-worming medication on your puppy anyways as a precaution against several common types of worms that your dog could be infected by. The medication has little, if any side effects and because your pup will not pass worm eggs daily then it will not necessarily show up in their stool sample examination.
* Some of these parasites can be transmitted to humans so it is important that de-worming is repeated because it only kills the adult worms so you need to do this more than once to make sure they are completely gone because in 3 to 4 weeks the larva of these parasites will become adults and need to be gotten rid of.
* Dogs are susceptible to re-infection of some common worms such as tapeworms, hookworms, whipworms and roundworms throughout their life especially if they are outdoor dogs so periodic de-worming is a good idea.
* Tapeworms, another common parasite to dogs, are not passed from dog to dog, however, puppies can be infected by tapeworms from eating fleas, contaminated raw meat, mice, rabbits or birds.
* Ear mites are tiny parasites that live in the ear canal of dogs and cats and are another thing to take care of in your new puppy care schedule.
* The most common sign that your puppy has ear mites is extreme and persistent scratching of the ears by your puppy.
* Sometimes ears with ear mites look dirty because of a black material in the ear canal. Ear mites can be seen with magnification.
* Your puppy can get an ear mite infection by contracting them from another puppy or dog with ear mites.
* Ear mites are more common in cats then dogs.
* Ear infections are more common in dogs than ear mites.
* Ear infections cause a dark discharge in the ear canals as do ear mite infections so you would need to take your puppy to a vet to clarify whether your puppy has an ear infection or an ear mite infection so that the vet can prescribe the correct medication for your puppy.
* Heartworms are another parasite that are extremely harmful to your puppy if contracted.
* They are found in warm, humid climates where there are lots of mosquitoes as that is how Heartworms are contracted is by mosquito bites.
* Heartworms live in your puppy’s bloodstream and do major damage to their heart and lungs and often cause death.
* Heartworms preventative medication dosages are determined by your puppy’s weight so as your puppy grows the dosage will need to increase to fully protect your puppy from this parasite. This medication is very safe and effective if used properly.
* Even if you do not live in an area where heartworms are prevalent but plan on travelling with your puppy to a location where heartworms are more of a problem then you should see your vet about receiving the medication to protect your puppy again these parasites.
* Another part of new puppy care is to trim your puppy’s toenails. Puppy’s have very sharp toenails which will need occasional trimming.
* You can use your own fingernail clippers to trim your pup’s nail when she is young, however, as she gets older you will need to use nail trimmers for dogs.
* Be careful not to take off too much when trimming your puppy’s nails otherwise bleeding and pain will occur.
* If your puppy has clear or white nails then you can usually see the pink area of the nail. If you do not cut the nail in the pink area and then you should be safely away from the area that will bleed and cause pain to your pup.
* If your puppy has black nails then you will not be able to see the pink area and should proceed very cautiously such as only trimming 1mm at a time until your puppy starts to get sensitive to this. The sensitivity will start before you cut into the blood vessel. With black nails it is likely that you will trim at least one nail too short and will cause bleeding.
* You may want someone to help you by holding a flashlight to illuminate the side of the nail so you can try to see where the pink area of the nail starts.
* If your pup has some clear and some black nails then you can use the clear nail as a guide for how short to cut the rest of them.
* Make sure to always use sharp nail trimmers as dull trimmers crush the nail and cause pain to your puppy even if you are not in the pink area.
* You should always have a styptic powder (a clotting substance) when trimming your puppy’s nails. This is sold in pet stores and will be labelled for use in trimming nails.
New puppy care also involves things like making sure your puppy has some sort of identification in case she gets lost.
No one plans on their puppy going missing but it can happen very easily and is a really good idea to make sure you have some sort of contact information on your puppy in case she does get lost.
I actually came across not one but two different neighbour's pups within a couple weeks of each other. One had dug a whole under the fence and escaped and the other got out of the backyard when someone left the gate open. Luckily I knew whose pups they were because they only live a few houses away but if I hadn't come across them they would probably have ended up much farther from home.
There are a few options for identification (ID) for your puppy that you may choose from:
Dog name tags can be purchased at pet stores and you can get your dog’s info engraved such as her name, your home phone # or cell #, your address or whatever you choose as there is limited space but you can add information onto the front and back of these tags. (see my Dog Name Tags page for more information)
Tattoos are another option which you will need to get done at your veterinarian’s office. This is a permanent identification for your pet as it cannot be lost, broken or stolen.
The tattoo is placed in your puppy’s right ear and contains a code that identifies your puppy and your veterinarian. Your puppy will require a general anesthetic to have this procedure done and it is often done at the same time as spaying or neutering your pup.
The puppy tattoo can be traced by SPCA’s, shelters, other veterinarians or pet hospitals that are usually in your province or state of residence and they will contact your veterinarian’s office. However, before getting a tattoo for your puppy you should confirm the range that this tattoo can be traced.
Microchips are another form of permanent identification and need to be done at your veterinarian’s office but does not require a general anesthetic. This is a form of ID that is injected under your puppy’s skin and is traceable throughout North America.
A document is then sent to the microchip company with your contact information and your puppy’s information such as name, breed, colour, medical information, etc. This microchip can be read with a special scanner.
Your puppy will also receive a collar tag to wear that shows that your dog has a microchip. If a clinic or shelter does not have the special scanner then they can contact the microchip company to get your contact information to let you know they have your dog.
New puppy care also includes making sure you get all the required puppy vaccinations that will ensure your pup is safe against common dog diseases. There are key areas that need to be attended to when you have a new puppy but if you are armed with the information to make informed decisions then it really is not that difficult to take all the right steps to ensure a long, happy and healthy life for your new furry friend.