Welcoming a new puppy is a very exciting endeavor! This week it came close to home when my two grandchildren, James and Jonathan, brought their new pet, a mixed breed puppy named “Holly”, to me in a state of euphoric rapture. I am still not immune to the intoxication that comes with the joy that a canine addition to a family brings and it was difficult for Jacqie and I to pass up a chance to adopt the last one in the litter.
Having a new dog in the house is fun, however, puppies can be a handful and should be approached with appropriate discipline and a willingness to accept new responsibilities. A puppy’s health care is especially important in their first stages of life and having a new puppy checklist will help get started.
A new pup should be examined shortly after being brought into a household. There are important systems that need to be examined such as eyesight, hearing, reflexes, ears, temperature and inherited defects. Your veterinarian will have them start their puppy’s vaccinations. New puppies are recommended to get vaccinated every 3 weeks, starting on age eight weeks. These vaccinations will be a series which your veterinarian will schedule for you. The Recommended vaccinations include:
Distemper: Canine distemper is a virus that affects the dog’s respiratory, gastrointestinal, respiratory, and central nervous system. Signs of this can be sneezing, coughing, and thick music coming from their eyes and nose.
Lyme: Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks. Essex county and Manchester are in a Lyme Endemic zone. This is one of the most important vaccinations in our geographic area
Parvovirus: Canine parvovirus is a life-threatening disease that attacks the white blood cells. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite which leads to dehydration.
Bordetella: Bordetella also known as Kennel Cough is an upper repertory infection that causes a hacking cough and can lead to pneumonia.
Leptospirosis: This disease is primarily transmitted by contaminated puddles. Relatively rare, but potentially fatal. It is also a zoonotic, which means people can get it too.
Rabies: Rabies is a virus that affects the dog’s brain and spinal cord. The general symptoms of rabies are a behavioral change that may compound to aggression. The dog could also contain a high fever.
The following are other care measures that will be recommended:
Deworming: Bring a sample of your new pet’s bowel movement to your first veterinary visit. It will be tested for internal parasites. Deworming kills any traces of worms or different types of internal parasites. Your puppy will lick just about everything in their new life. If your dog picks up an intestinal parasite, they will start to have diarrhea, vomiting, loss of weight, or licking under their tail.
Heartworm Disease Preventive: Heartworm in dogs is easy to prevent but can be difficult to cure. The most common way that a dog gets heartworm is from a mosquito bite. Heartworm is difficult to diagnose, but a common symptom a dog may have is coughing.
Lyme Disease Prevention: Ticks carry Lyme Disease. It is paramount that a Tick prevention plan is in place. Collars and chewable preventatives are available and do a good job. Your veterinarian will recommend his/her products of choice.
One decision you will need to make, and one you don’t have to make when you first get your puppy is if you will spay or neuter your pet. If you are not planning on breeding your pet, it is recommended that you consider this routine surgery. Microchips are a great way to identify your pet if they become missing. A pet microchip is a small electric device that is inserted in your pet’s skin just above their neck. This chip is eligible to be scanned at most animal shelters, veterinary offices and police stations. By scanning the chip, this will give the shelter data about the pet and the owner’s contact information.
Just like a baby, you need to puppy proof your house. Puppies will chew and lick anything they can get into their mouth. Keep small objects off the floor, “breakables” up high, and anything harmful out of reach. If you need to keep them out of a certain room contained them to a designated area. Baby gates or other obstacles can help you contain your puppy. Covering and taking out your garbage will keep your dog’s curiosity at bay. Not only does your house need to be puppy proof, but your yard as well. L ike your house, your puppy may want to chew on anything that is left in the yard. This includes yard tools, hoses, or lawn equipment. Make sure that your yard is fully closed off. Make sure there are no weak points in the fence, low spots to dig at, or gates with loose latches. Learn what vegetation could be harmful.
Your puppy is going to want to bite, lick, and chew on everything it can get in their month. Having some chew toys around the house can teach them to use the toys instead of your brand-new shoes. Not only can toys help your puppy not chew on your stuff but having them play and exercise throughout the day will keep their energy down and make them more manageable to train.
Giving your new dog a puppy formulated food will promote healthy growth as they get older. Most puppy food has more calories, promotes better bone growth, and digestive system. When you’re feeding your dog, you need something to put it in. Just get a couple of bowls to put food and water in. Make sure the water bowl is the adequate size to compensate for the warm temperatures in the summer. Make a designated spot in a low traffic area that they can feel comfortable to access. Like most animals, dogs are food motivated. Giving them a treat when they do something good can help them understand how they should behave. A few treats won’t have any effect on your puppy’s health but do be aware that giving them too many could give them too many calories in a day could lead to weight gain
Your dog will need some exercise and you may want to take them down to the park on occasions. All towns require tags that need to be attached to their collar. Check with your local town, but the most common I.D. are town licensing and current rabies vaccination tag.
There are myriad questions that will arise and your veterinarian will be happy to educate all family members. If you are lucky enough to get a new pup, congratulations. I am certain you will have many years of unconditional love and joy to share with your new family member.