Puppies, puppies, puppies, everyone loves puppies. Soft, cuddly, adorable puppies. They melt your heart with a look, they make even the grumpiest smile, who can resist a puppy. All of that is true, but love is easy when it comes to puppies, it’s the care part that can be difficult. Some of you may be thinking of getting a puppy, or have found yourself on the receiving end of a gift puppy. After all the ooos and ahs, are over, and the play time draws to a close, the questions start to set in. What does a puppy need? What kind of food? What kind of vaccinations? What do I do with the puppy when I go to sleep? And many more questions I am sure. The goal of this article is to help you with some of those questions. If you don't find the answer you are looking for here, feel free to e-mail me and I will do my best to get your question answered.
First you should know what to feed your puppy, and how often. Puppies love to eat, and that is good. You should feed your puppy as often as it wants to eat. Puppies grow fast, and they need all the food they can get to ensure a healthy start to their life. You can feed them like this until they are about 16 weeks old, at that point you need to be sure not to over feed them. As far as what you should feed your new puppy, you can feed them dry food formulated for puppies, you can feed them wet food for puppies, or a combination of the two, and if you are truly adventurous you can try your hand at making your own dog food. Dogs vary from breed to breed when it comes to chow time. You should check with your vet to ensure you have a good feel for how much your dog should be eating. When you first bring a puppy home it may have some digestion problems that will cause it to vomit or have diarrhea (I know, who said puppies were cute all the time). This is usually caused by a change in diet. If this occurs, you may want to stop feeding your new bundle of fur for a few hours. When you do feed your puppy again, feed it boiled chicken and rice. This has always worked for me. Even in older dogs, rice and chicken will help stop the vomiting and ease the diarrhea. That being said, if the problem continues, or your puppy does not seem to want to eat, you should get it to the vet as soon as possible.
Vaccines are a very important step in your puppy’s life. There is one vaccination that is required by law here in Pennsylvania, you should check your local laws for your area, and that is a rabies vaccination. I can not stress how important this is. Rabies is a horrible disease, and having your dog vaccinated and keeping up with the booster shots is a must. Not just because it’s the law, but because it protects your dog and everyone else from possibly contracting rabies. Your puppy’s first rabies vaccination should be given at 13 weeks, and then again one year after that, then every 3 years. Distemper is also a very important vaccine, and is required by law in some areas, distemper (Duramune, DHPP) can be given at 6 weeks, with 4 boosters, the last booster should be good for 1 year, and then every three years after that. These next vaccinations are not usually required by law, but I would suggest you get them anyway. They will ensure your puppy stays healthy for many years to come. Lime, especially in areas where deer ticks are prevalent, should be given at 9 weeks, with 2 boosters, then once a year. Lepto can also be given at 9 weeks with 2 boosters to follow then yearly. Those are the vaccines that I think are most important. It is a good idea to consult with your vet for any other vaccines that may be given. Different areas of the country may call for different types of vaccines. I am sure the dangers we have here in Pennsylvania differ greatly from the dangers one may face in Arizona.
I am sure you have heard this, but I am going to say it anyway, make sure you get your puppy spayed/neutered. I know some of you out there may think it cruel, but it will do more to help your puppy than to harm it. Did you know that if you have your female puppy spayed before her first heat, it will all but eliminate the chance of any reproductive cancers. It helps to calm them, a dog that is not spayed or neutered has a drive to breed, and it is cruel, in my opinion, to keep a dog that way if you are not intending to breed it. When your puppy reaches six months you should get him or her spayed or neutered. If you are planning to breed your puppy that is a different story. You should check with your vet to make sure you are well informed before you breed your dog.
House training is never a fun task, but it can be made simple. To house train your new puppy you must have a routine, I can’t stress this enough, and dogs live by routines. You must keep your new puppy confined to a small area, a bathroom, or laundry room, whatever room is small and convenient for you. You can also use a kennel for house training. Keep your new puppy confined, and every 4 hours or so take your puppy outside. If your puppy goes in the room or kennel, do not yell or get mad, once your puppy realizes he or she will be sleeping there the messes will stop. When you take your puppy outside and it does its business outside you should praise it. Once these two things have been established, 1) keep the puppy where it will be sleeping, and 2) it goes to the bathroom outside it will be all downhill. Once a puppy goes outside it will want to continue to go outside, it is just the nature of the dog. If you use it to your advantage you will see that house training is really quite simple.
Lastly you may want to consider micro chipping your new puppy, you will be surprised at how effective this simple little thing is if you should ever lose track of your new furry family member. There are also GPS units you can look into, though they are still kind of bulky, but still worth looking into, you can find tracking units that range in price from $25 - $300. I hope this article helped with some of the questions you may have had. If you have any questions please feel free to e-mail me and I will see if I can find an answer for you. Anything I can do to help keep all of our furry family members healthy and happy, I will try my best to do.