If you have a new puppy, you probably have a ton of questions. For that matter, if you’ve been a while between puppies, you may need a refresher course. So, whichever category you fall into, keep reading as we answer the most common questions people have about caring for their new puppy.
When Should I Think About Shots?
Usually, your puppy will need his first shots between six and eight weeks. If you’re buying from a breeder, they may already have taken care of the initial shots, and you will have to see your vet every 3 or 4 weeks for boosters until the puppy reaches the age of 16 to 18 weeks. After that, booster shots are given annually.
What Type of Shots Does My Puppy Need?
There are four shots that all dogs should get. They are:
Distemper is a respiratory virus that progresses to the gastrointestinal tract and nervous system. It is can be spread through contact with the urine, feces or blood of an infected animal, but don’t think that if your dog doesn’t come into contact with other animals he doesn’t need to be vaccinated – the virus is also airborne. Distemper is generally fatal.
Also known as canine hepatitis, this disease is spread by contact with the urine, feces, saliva or blood of infected animals. It damages the liver, kidneys and blood vessels, and is generally fatal.
If you get your puppy nothing else, get him the parvo shot. This is the most common cause of death due to viral infection in dogs. It is spread via the blood, vomit or feces of infected dogs, but your dog doesn’t have to be anywhere near another dog to catch it – you could bring it home on your shoes. It is almost invariably fatal in puppies, and usually also fatal in adult dogs. You could opt for treatment for an adult dog, but it will be very expensive and the dog will still not likely ever be quite the same as before he contracted the virus.
Rabies vaccine is not just recommended – you are required by law to have your dog vaccinated against rabies by the time he is six months old.
Don’t listen to people who tell you “But if you have your dog vaccinated, you’re having him injected with the disease!” Yes, you are – a weakened or dead form of the virus that causes the disease, and delivers just enough of it for your dog to build up an immunity.
Should I Crate Train My Puppy?
Yes, it’s the best way to housebreak your puppy. Puppies don’t like to sleep where they eliminate, so start crate training right away. Make sure that the crate is just big enough to sit, stand and lie down in, because if it’s too big, the puppy will simply eliminate on one side and sleep on the other. Small creates help them to hold it in. As soon as you let your puppy out of the crate, take him outdoors
Why Do Puppies Chew Constantly?
Your puppy is teething. And it might seem as though this is never going to end, but usually by the age of six months, all the puppy teeth are gone and the adult teeth have grown in. Then your furniture and shoes should be safe!
What Should I Feed My Puppy?
Until your puppy is a year old, he should be fed food that is specially formulated for puppies. If you have a large breed, you should keep him on puppy food until at least 16 months, preferably 18.
Assuming that your puppy has a good appetite (and most do) dry food is better than wet. For one thing, it is typically less expensive, and it also leads to less tartar and plaque buildup on your puppy’s teeth. That’s not to say that you can’t feed wet food as an occasional treat.
Of course, you should also get your puppy used to regular teeth brushing. There are several toothpastes on the market that are specially formulated for dogs, like Sentry Petrodex VS Poultry Cool Mint Dual Toothpaste Dog Fine Polish. It’s available at Amazon for just $4.99, which is a significant savings over the list price of $8.51.
Should I Worry About Hiccups?
No. Puppies tend to hiccup a lot, and sometimes they’ll do it for quite a long time – up to ten minutes, in fact! Usually you’ll find that they occur when your puppy is excited, and they are because he is swallowing air. Hiccups are nothing to worry about, and if we’re completely honest here, they’re kind of cute. They’ll go away as your puppy gets older.
Is Diarrhea Normal?
Diarrhea in puppies may be typical, but it shouldn’t be considered normal. Puppies are very vulnerable to parasitic infections, and should have a fecal examination during your first trip to the vet. Changes in diet can also lead to diarrhea. If your puppy has diarrhea for more than a couple of days, you should take him to the vet. If there is any blood in the stool, go immediately.
Why Am I Buried in Poo?
Oh, please! You are not “buried,” it just seems that way. You might wonder if your puppy is passing a normal amount of feces, and the answer is “Yes, probably.” Puppies will usually “go” at least three times a day, and some may do it as many as ten times.
When Should I Have My Puppy Neutered or Spayed?
If you are not planning on breeding, they spaying or neutering is best done around the age of six months.
In females, spaying eliminates the possibility of mammary cancer, and also means that your girl will never deposit blood all over your house when she comes into heat. Oh, and to put a myth to rest, you should not allow her to have a heat before spaying.
In males, neutering can reduce the likelihood of spraying urine indoors and the risk of metabolic diseases in later life.
So now you have the answers to the most common questions about caring for your puppy. If you have others, get in touch with your vet. He or she will be your partner in your dog’s care from puppyhood and beyond, and should always be pleased to answer any questions you have.