Dr. Christina Frick, D.V.M.
Bringing home a new puppy is an exciting time for any family. Your new puppy depends on you to help him or her live a healthy, happy life. Next to you, your veterinarian is your pet's best friend. By establishing a preventative health care program with your vet as soon as you acquire your new pet, you can help protect them from contagious diseases, parasites and other health problems. Here are some tips to help make the puppy a delight to your family instead of a burden.
Every puppy needs a good quality food to continue to grow. Dr. Frick recommends a high quality food that is specially formulated with the growth needs of your puppy in mind. Feed pups three times daily until 6 month of age, then reduce to twice daily. Dr. Frick will start the puppy on a food for the puppy's size and breed and will also determine how long the puppy should be on growth food. Fresh clean water should be provided at all times.
Puppy vaccinations start at 6-8 weeks old with booster shots at 10-12 weeks and then 14-16 weeks old. Even with vaccinations, Dr. Frick strongly recommends that you continue to be protective by not exposing your puppy to strange dogs and not taking them on walks where other dogs frequent (like city parks), until the puppy receives their 2nd booster vaccination. It is important to receive the full puppy series. Rabies vaccinations are given at 14-16 weeks old, and all vaccinations should be repeated annually. Dr. Frick will evaluate the pet's surroundings to determine yearly boosters needed.
Your puppy is old enough for spaying (female) or neutering (male) at 5- 6 months old. The many benefits were discussed in the spay/ neuter article in May.
Your puppy is old enough to begin heartworm preventative. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitos and are deadly to your dog. Dr. Frick will put your puppy on a monthly heartworm preventative. Heartworm checks should be part of the annual health program for your dog.
All puppies have intestinal worms or parasites. Dr. Frick will deworm puppies on each visit and recommend fecal examinations if any problems. Yearly deworming is also important because many parasites are zoonotic (contagious to humans, especially young children who do not wash their hands after being around animals). Dr. Frick carries flea and tick products that are safe for puppies that are 8 weeks old and up.
All puppies chew when they are teething. Whenever your puppy chews on something it shouldn't, take it away and replace is with the proper chew bone or toy. It's never too early to begin preventative oral care. Frick Vet Services carries toothbrushes and proper toothpaste for dogs.
Obedience training is most important the first year of the puppies' life, which in turn will make a good dog for 12- 16 years later. Teaching basic commands while using their food as treats is a great start. New puppy exams will include many helpful training, housebreaking hints, and a new puppy book filled with lots of puppy information.
Proper identification tags with pet info, vet info, city tag, and/or owner info can reunite puppys back home. Dr. Frick offers microchipping or tattoing, a permanent identification for animals. Many collars and leashes are available. Talk with Dr. Frick about which training method will be the best for your breed and activity level of dog.
Fenced-in yards provide an energetic puppy with lots of room to exercise and a safe environment. Crate training works well when owners are not around the puppy during the day. Puppy-proof your house and yard for unsafe conditions and substances. Know where your puppy is at all times. They like to investigate and can hide or get locked-in a room. Provide a bed for your puppy as his/her place in a safe, draft-free spot. Groom your dog regularly and trim their nails, so they are used to these activities when they go to the groomer or vet. Know your puppy's normal appearance and behavior. If there are changes in appearance or personality, take to your vet to check for illness or injury.
Friendship is a two-way street. Your dog deserves plenty of attention; then they will be less inclined to bark or chew your belongings if they get your love and devotion. Being a responsible dog owner is an important job and requires your serious commitment. Set up a puppy check exam to get started on a lifetime of wellness for your new family member.