Many of my twenty-something friends have started to add four-legged children to their lives (and so have I, just look at the image above). Being out and on our own there is a new opportunity to create a mini family for ourselves, and what better way than a puppy? Bringing a puppy into your life is exciting, you have a new life companion, and you are re-learning the world together and adjusting to your new team dynamic. You probably can’t wait to show your friends the cutie you picked out. And, of course, you want to play with him right away.
One thing that is easy to forget is that your puppy suddenly is in an environment he doesn’t know. Give him some time to adjust to his new home. Here are some hints to make him feel as comfortable as possible:
1.Teach children not to be rough with the puppy (if you have any around); no pulling ears, whiskers or tail
2.Act calmly, not rowdy, around the puppy
3.Provide a warm, soft bed (or box or crate) in a cozy, out of the way place
4.Give the puppy a soft, indestructible toy or two
5.Never let your puppy put his teeth on a human, even at play, as it may encourage biting behavior
Yes, you’ll be excited to take your new pet on walks in public areas and to play with other dogs, but wait until his immunities are built up to life-threatening diseases. There are numerous vaccines that your puppy should receive between six and sixteen – twenty weeks of age to make him safe to go out into the world and socialize with people and other animals. Some vaccinations require booster shots to maintain effective levels of protection. Be sure to ask your vet about these. Your veterinarian may administer these at separate times a few weeks apart, each time in one injection.
Puppy Checkup & Vaccination Schedule
6 weeks: Doctor visit
DHP/PV (distemper/hepatitis/parvo) – 1st of 4 boosters
Bordetella (kennel cough) – if pet will be boarded at a kennel
Fecal sample – check stools for worms and intestinal parasites
Physical exam – skin, ears, mouth, chest, abdomen, inguinal area (to check for hernias), open fontenelles, teeth, hips, knees, eyes
Discuss: diet, housebreaking, puppy training class, grooming, heartworm disease, potentially harmful exposure to parvo, spaying or neutering, vaccine reaction symptoms, emergency clinic, vaccine schedule, flea & tick control
First monthly heartworm tablet
9 weeks: Technician visit
DHP/PV booster #2
Learn how to trim nails and brush teeth
12 weeks: Technician visit
DHP/PV booster #3
Rabies vaccination (required by law)
Fecal check (if needed)
16 weeks: Doctor visit (if needed)
DHP/PV booster – 4th and final until yearly physical exam
Rabies vaccination (if not given at last visit)
Important Canine Diseases
Canine Parvovirus – young puppies are particularly susceptible to this insidious condition that attacks the lining of the intestinal tract and damages the heart. It is costly to treat and is often fatal.
Canine Hepatitis – affects the liver and can cause loss of vision.
Canine Distemper – attacks almost all body tissues and affects the function of the brain and spinal cord.
Rabies – a virus contracted by exposure to a rabid animal, it attacks the nervous system and is always fatal.
Protecting Against Worms & Fleas
Your puppy was at risk for getting worms from his mother before he was even born. Worms are intestinal parasites and pose a risk that should not be ignored. Protecting your puppy requires constant, lifelong attention. Treating your pet is easy, fast and painless.
Heartworms – are one of the most deadly of all canine parasites. Heartworm disease spreads when mosquitoes bite an infected animal and then pass the larvae into the bloodstream of another dog. These microfilariae then mature into adults and live in the dog’s heart. Symptoms may include vomiting, coughing, difficulty breathing, lethargy, weight loss, collapse or convulsions, even sudden death. All dogs are at risk – even indoor pets.
Prevention of heartworm disease is achieved by annual heartworm tests and regular heartworm tablets or biannual injections.
Roundworms – may develop prior to birth or from nursing, skin penetration, or later in life by ingesting roundworm eggs or larvae. They attach to the intestinal lining and leave bleeding internal wounds. Roundworms are a zoonotic parasite that can spread to humans, especially children. Symptoms include weakness, weight loss, haggard appearance, and dull unkempt fur.
Hookworms – can come from their mothers while nursing or by eating infected animals. They are a zoonotic parasite that can be spread to humans. Symptoms included vomiting, diarrhea, and stunted growth.
Whipworms – develop when a dog swallows whipworm eggs passed from an infected dog. Symptoms may include diarrhea, anemia, and dehydration.
Fleas – flea eggs that have fallen off a pet develop into larvae which hide in carpet, furniture, leaves or other dark places. Adult fleas can then easily attach themselves to the pet when the pet comes in contact with those locations. Symptoms include itching, skin irritation, extreme discomfort, and tell-tale flea “dirt” in the pet’s fur. Effective flea control products not only kill adult fleas but will prevent flea larvae from reproducing or hatching.
It won’t take you long to start noticing traits and behavior characteristics of your puppy. This will serve you well. If puppy acts out of character at any time you should pay attention because you may be noticing symptoms of an illness.
Besides generally being “in touch” with your puppy, there are regimented measures you can take to prevent illness.
Always administer the veterinarian-prescribed medicines to your pet as directed. Since there are some diseases that are almost always fatal, the best approach is prevention.
Always take your pet to see his veterinarian at least once a year for a check-up and more often than that if your veterinarian recommends. Vaccinations and boosters are routinely handled at these check-ups and missing even one injection could put your pet at risk for disease.
At home, get in the habit of regularly checking your puppy for fleas, ticks or skin conditions. Preventing fleas and internal parasitesis easy. Ask your veterinarian.