Bringing home a new puppy less than a year old can be an exciting but daunting experience. Baby dogs are fragile and especially so before they turn six months old – their digestive and immune systems are not mature enough and even a cold can kill them! They are also more prone to infectious diseases and parasite infestations so vaccinations and deworming are crucial to keep your pup bouncing with health and vitality. Here we’ve put together a guide to help you give your new family member the best possible start in life.
Most puppies are weaned onto solid food at one month. Their digestive system is however not yet fully developed and so are their teeth, so be sure to get them puppy food such as pureed meat. Never feed your pup human food, adult dog food or dry food that hasn’t been moistened with water. These can upset your dog’s stomach or even cause serious gastrointestinal issues.
Puppies need a high-calorie, high-protein diet to fuel their rapid growth. Your furry little friend will get all the essential nutrients from off-the-shelf puppy food, so supplements are not necessary unless your vet advises you to. Adding supplements to an already nutritionally balanced diet can be harmful, such as putting your puppy at risk for sensitive stomach and hypervitaminosis.
Your pup’s poop can tell you about their health. Take a good look at your dog’s poop every day and watch out for signs that could indicate a health concern such as constipation, diarrhea and blood in stool. Young puppies at about two months old generally poop five to six times a day. And as they grow older, this number gradually decreases. By the age of one, your furry little one will poop about three times a day.
Puppies may not always have perfect control over their bowel movements and can get poop stuck and matted in their fur. You might find this dirty but never ever bathe your furry little one. Newborns are incredibly vulnerable and bathing them too soon will increase their chances of catching a cold which can be life-threatening. Take it slow, wait until your puppy gets stronger after the first vaccine shot, usually at two to three months.
Setting up a vaccination schedule is one of the most important things you can do to keep your furry family member in tip top health. Puppies who do not receive vaccinations are at extreme risk of acute contagious diseases such as infectious canine hepatitis, rabies and parainfluenza. Generally speaking, vets tend to recommend not taking puppies out until after they have had their third vaccination.
When your puppy is fully vaccinated and ready for their very first walk, you may need a leash to help keep your pooch under control in case they get overly excited and try to run away. To socialize your little one, try to expose them to a broad range of experiences such as weathers, environments, new people, and other animals.
Dogs, as they roam freely outdoors, are more susceptible to parasites than cats. Heartworms are among the most dangerous – and potentially deadly – dog parasitic worms which are spread through the bite of a mosquito. Other common parasites include roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms and fleas, which can cause malnutrition, anemia or even more serious symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting and hemorrhage. Sarcoptic mange, caused by parasitic mite sarcoptes scabiei, and demodectic mange by demodex canis mite are also common among dogs.
Luckily, there are many effective options for parasite prevention such as regular deworming and parasite control medication. When you take your puppy out, keep away from areas with high mosquito populations and avoid contact with stool from other dogs. And after the walk, remember to clean your dog fully and thoroughly.
It is ideal to brush your puppy’s teeth at least once a week to prevent tartar build-up, tooth decay and periodontal disease. There are a wide variety of dental care products to choose from, but keep in mind that dental chews made of hard materials such as bone will not help clean plaque off but can potentially cause tooth fracture or damage to your pup’s gum tissue.
At around three to nine months of age, puppies will start to lose their baby teeth and grow their adult teeth. This is usually the stage that pups experience an uncontrollable urge to chew so be sure to hide away dangerous items – they may accidently swallow one! What’s more, teething can be awfully painful for your puppy. What you can do to help make the process a little more comfortable is to provide something your little one can chew on to sooth sore gums, such as chew toys or cold towels (you can simply wet a towel and put it in the refrigerator to chill).
To ensure your doggo is living a healthy and happy life, it is also imperative to take them for a regular check-up with the vet. For an even more comprehensive protection, you can consider purchasing the ultimate protection plan for them! Click here to learn more!