How to Care for your New Puppy

Following on from our previous and popular article about Kittens, this week’s article is all about puppies!  Now, who doesn’t love a puppy?  Many of you will have new puppies after Christmas – but as the old maxim goes “A dog is for life, not just for Christmas”.  I know all of our readers want to give their pups a long, happy and health life – so read on for some pointers.

What do I feed the Pup?

This is a common question.  Dogs are great at begging, and it can be tempting to feed your dog whatever you are having.  However, humans don’t always have the healthiest diet, and you don’t want to pass this on to your dog!  In addition, dog’s don’t adapt well to a range of different foods in a week – it is better to feed a consistent diet.  Don’t let your cute new puppy train YOU to feed him exactly what he desires.  A good start is to choose a “complete” dog food in kibble form.  That is, hard nuts and not meat.  This can help to keep the dog’s teeth healthy and digestion moving.  Some folk wet the nuts, but this is not necessary.  Choose a good brand like Royal Canin.  There are lots of different options to select, but pick a type of food appropriate to the age of the animal.  Generally puppies need feed three to four times daily when over 2 months of age, gradually weaning to once or twice per day.  It can often be cheaper to buy in bulk – check out the “order pet-food” section on our website (www.downevets.com) to find some deals.

How do I House Train the Puppy?

Again this is a common question – and there are many methods.  Select one that works for you and your puppy.  My preferred method is the “crate” method.  I let my dog sleep in a cage, and every time I let her out when she was a pup I took her straight to the same spot in the garden to toilet.  I then praised her for this.  She was only in the cage for 5 – 10 mins at a time, but she learned quickly to associate toileting with going outside.  Remember to always clean up after your dog!  Other folk use puppy training pads – but the principle is the same – positive reinforcement.  Reward good behaviour rather than punishing what you perceive to be bad.  The dog doesn’t appreciate why a certain behaviour is unacceptable.

When Can I Walk my Puppy?

It is important to realize that your puppy cannot be walked until he or she is fully vaccinated.  Pups have a naive immune system.  They are not protected against diseases like parvo.  E.g. parvo is spread via other dog’s leavings when they go to the toilet.  If your dog were to come into contact with parvo, and was not vaccinated, the consequences could be life threatening.  The best thing to do is to contact your vet and arrange vaccination as soon as possible  Generally this involves two shots and this course is completed around 10 or 12 weeks of age.  Perhaps your puppy's breeder has got the pup vaccinated already.  If so insist on seeing a Certificate of Vaccination and present it to your vet at the earliest opportunity.

When do I need to go the Vet?

It is good practice to book your pup into see the vet within a few days of him / her entering your home.  Your vet can perform a general health check and advise you on vaccinations, flea/tick/worm prevention and early neutering.  You could write a list of all your questions in advance of your visit to save you forgetting anything!

Insurance

We advise getting good quality pet insurance for your new kitten.  Veterinary care is becoming more complex and owners demand and receive a high level of service.  Insurance can give you peace of mind if your pet becomes ill.  In this country we are very lucky to have the NHS answer many of the financial questions around “what happens when I get ill”.  Unfortunately there is no NHS for pets – so you as the owner have to provide some level of cover, which you will hopefully only rarely use.  Companies such as Agria offer plenty of advice on the right level of cover for your animal.

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