Taking Care of Your New Puppy’s Needs

If you have never owned a puppy before, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed with the sudden responsibility of caring for the wellbeing of your new pal. In this article you will learn about the basic health responsibilities you should attend to and how you can go about doing so.

Your puppy’s diet is first on our list. Puppies are on their mother’s milk until they are about six to eight weeks old. This weaning age is usually when breeders allow the puppies to be taken home by their new owner. Ask your breeder what the pup is currently eating and continue to feed him that. Usually they will be eating a soft canned food mixed with puppy milk replacer. Use less and less milk until your puppy is on pure canned food. You can do the same when switching to dry food by mixing in a little soft food and then cutting back a little each day until the puppy is on dry food only. Dry food is recommended as the best type of food for dogs as it has less fat content and keeps your dog’s teeth strong and free of plaque build up. This should happen gradually over the course of about 7 – 10 days. You should never feed your dog human food (ie: table scraps) at any time during his life. A dog’s diet requires a specific balance of certain nutrients and feeding your dog table scraps will upset this balance. Also remember to keep a water bowl filled for your pup at all times.

The next item on the list is vaccinations. If your dog’s breeder hasn’t taken care of the vaccinations, then it’s up to you to see that your dog gets immunized. There are three separate shots given to cover the “core” illnesses, which are: distemper, parvovirus, and hepatitis. The first shot is usually given at 6 weeks of age with the other shots following in three week intervals at 9 and 12 weeks. Your veterinarian will be able to take care of the vaccinations for you, as well as recommend any non-core vaccines that they feel your dog should have. The importance of non-core vaccines differs depending on your dog’s breed and where you live. You will need to return to the vet every year of your dog’s life for an adult “booster” shot. You should be aware that social interaction with other dogs is not recommended until after your puppy has completed his round of vaccinations, with an additional 5 – 10 days for the immunization to become effective.

Our next health tip is grooming. Regardless of the breed of your puppy, all dogs require a certain amount of grooming. For instance, long-haired dogs will require much more brushing and haircuts than other breeds, but there are also some breeds, particularly the ones with long ears, that need their ears cleaned frequently to avoid infection. All dogs need to have their nails clipped every so often, but we recommend that you have this done professionally if you aren’t experienced at the job, as clipping too close to the quick in your dog’s nails causes a great deal of pain and bleeding. Do a bit of research on your puppy’s breed to get a good idea as to what your grooming responsibilities will be.

Last but not least is exercise. Puppies are energetic by nature and need an outlet. Take extra care to spend time playing with your pup and make sure he gets plenty of time outdoors (other than trips to relieve himself!). Boredom can often result in excessive chewing as well as destructive behaviour, so the more time you dedicate to wearing out your spirited companion, the happier he will be! A great exercise trick is to buy dog steps and teach your dog fun games that incorporate running up and down the stairs. Pet stairs are also handy to have around if you allow your dog on the couch or bed so he doesn’t have to jump to and from the furniture.

For more tips on raising a healthy pup, visit HelpYourPets.com.

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