Once you have made your choice on a puppy and brought him or her home, it’s time to learn and take care of the basics.
Basics of Feeding
It is very important that you choose the right kind of food to suit your new puppy. In general, the best option is a dry food that is made for puppies. Do not be tempted to buy own brand or generic dog food. Although they’re often cheaper, they’re also proportionally lower in vital nutrients that your pup needs.
Brand name food is the best choice. It contains the correct levels of protein and vitamins for your puppy. However, most people do not realize that high protein levels and too many vitamins can actually be harmful to a puppy’s health. Overfeeding and over supplementation are factors that can contribute to conditions such as hip dysplasia. So, if you have chosen a puppy of a large breed, you should buy the correct large breed puppy food which is specifically tailored for your pup.
You should start off by feeding your puppy three times a day. Then, after he or she is ten to twelve weeks of age, reduce this to only twice a day. Only allow your puppy to eat for fifteen minutes, then take away his or her bowl. This practice discourages overeating. Puppies can very easily become overweight, and this would be bad for their overall health and wellbeing.
If you have more than one puppy or dog, always make sure to give their food in separate bowls. This will prevent fights from occurring as well as teach your puppies that food is plentiful. This will then prevent them from developing defensive and aggressive behavior regarding their food.
Do not feed your new pup with your own food, since it will not be nutritionally balanced or sufficient for his or her dietary needs. However, you can offer treats such as milk bone biscuits every now and then. But do not do so too often – otherwise your pup will come to expect treats all the time and will also be in danger of consuming many calories via constant snacking.
You should also always have a supply of fresh, clean water that your puppy can access undisturbed. In hot weather, make sure that this water is placed in a cool, shady spot, and refill it regularly, since puppies can quickly become dehydrated.
Basics of Vaccinating Your Pup
At some point between six and sixteen weeks of age, puppies lose the disease protection that they received from their mother’s antibodies. They are then capable of forming their own immunity to diseases.
This fact is why your puppy should receive his or her first shot between six to eight weeks of age. The first shot is the distemper shot, which serves as a multi-vaccine against distemper, adenovirus, and parvovirus. This shot should be administered every three weeks and is a series of four shots.
The next important vaccine that your pup will receive is the rabies vaccine (if you live in a country where this is routinely given). Your pup will receive the rabies vaccine between twelve to sixteen weeks of age with yearly boosters.
Another vaccine that your pup may receive is the bordetella vaccine. This vaccine is mainly for animals that are going to be boarded for any reason. It protects against the infamous “Kennel Cough,” which is a severe but rarely fatal respiratory disease.
Basics of Worming Your Puppy
Regular worming is very important to both your puppy’s health and your own. There are a number of different worms that can infect your puppy with one of the most common ones being heartworm. These worms are transmitted by mosquitoes. In order toprotect your puppy from them, you should give him or her heartguard once a month.
Heartguard is a meaty, chewable tablet that helps to prevent heartworms. As soon as your puppy gets the first shots you should start him or her on this kind of heartworm prevention. However, their heartworm test doesn’t have to be done until they’re at least six months old. After the first test you should get them done annually even if you use heartworm prevention.
Other common worms are hookworms, roundworms, and, the most common, tapeworms. The best way for you to check yourself if your puppy has worms is to look at his or her belly. If the belly seems larger than a normal puppy belly, you should then ask if your vet can check for worms by testing your puppy’s feces. He or she can then recommend a suitable de-wormer as well as a regimen to keep your puppy worm-free in the future.