It’s impossible to resist a new puppy’s sweet breath and velvet-soft fur. Puppies are fluff balls full of energy who, like human children, require lots of attention, observation, and training. Your puppy’s first year of life will be a steep learning curve of adjustment and discovery for you and your new furry friend. Puppyhood will go by in the blink of an eye, so time is limited to set up your new pal for success. Follow these guidelines from your All Pets Medical Center veterinarians to ensure your puppy thrives into adulthood.
Puppy preventive care
Many pets and their people may dread going to the veterinarian for their shots; however, our Fear Free-certified team will ease your apprehensions and ensure a positive experience. Preventive care visits are the best insurance to keep your puppy healthy and disease-free throughout their life.
During the first few weeks after your puppy has joined your home, establishing an initial baseline veterinary exam is essential. Your puppy will receive a nose to tail check up, and we will establish a vaccination schedule that best suits their lifestyle needs. In general, expect to bring your puppy in for vaccinations every few weeks starting at around 6 weeks of age until they reach 16 weeks of age. Vaccinations ensure your puppy builds a strong immune system to fight off contagious and potential deadly diseases. Your puppy’s core vaccinations will include the following:
- Canine parvovirus
- Lyme disease
Depending on your puppy’s lifestyle, your All Pets veterinarian may recommend vaccinations for Leptospirosis, Canine Influenza, or Bordetella.
Hitchhiking pests on the inside and outside of your pet will also be addressed during their puppy exams. Puppies commonly contract intestinal parasites or worms from their mother or original environment. Your puppy’s rounded belly is a good indication that they have been infected with intestinal worms, and to combat these unwanted guests, your puppy will receive two to three doses of deworming medication during their first few months. Since puppies grow like weeds, deworming doses will be adjusted at each visit according to their weight, to ensure proper protection for a growing pup. Additionally, a fecal test will be performed on your puppy to ensure all parasites have been cleared from their gastrointestinal tract.
Spaying or neutering your puppy
After your puppy has built up a strong immune system, the next life milestone is to schedule a spay or neuter procedure, which is typically performed between 6 months to 18 months of age. However, your veterinarian will discuss the best plan based on your puppy’s lifestyle, behavior, and health needs. By electing this procedure, you are helping to prevent unwanted pregnancies. In addition to population control, spaying or neutering has numerous health benefits, including:
- Preventing pyometra (i.e., life-threatening uterine infection) in females
- Decreased risk of testicular and breast cancer
- Decreased desire to roam and mark their territory
House and crate training your puppy
As your puppy grows, their bladder will naturally strengthen, increasing their ability to avoid eliminations inside the home. Puppies are typically fast learners, but require consistency and clear direction from their pet parents when learning any new skill. To ensure a successful house training experience, use these principles:
- Take your puppy out on a regular, consistent schedule.
- As a general rule, take your puppy out every hour for each month of age. For example, if your puppy is 2 months old, take them outside a minimum of every two hours when they are awake.
- Immediately praise or provide a special treat after each successful outside elimination.
- Always use the same outdoor location, with concurrent verbal cues.
- Exit from the same door when house training, to teach your pet to signal at this location when they need to go out.
- Take your puppy outside immediately after they wake up in the morning or wake from a nap, after playing or extended bouts of exercise, and after eating or drinking.
- Use verbal cues before and during elimination—eventually they will learn to go on cue.
Crate training is a useful aid for overall house training and provides a safe environment for your pet. Animals generally avoid elimination in places where they eat, rest, or sleep, so start acclimating your puppy to a crate when you are gone for short periods of time, or unable to supervise them. Crate training can take up to six months, so patience and consistency is essential.
Meeting new puppy friends
Once your puppy has been fully vaccinated, you can begin socialization by taking field trips outside the home. Proper socialization will ensure your puppy can adjust to variable environments and situations, and will help prevent a lifetime of behavioral issues or stress. Start by taking your puppy to high-foot-traffic areas, such as a park or a pet-friendly mall. Ensure that you have a properly fitting leash and collar on your pet at all times and never take them off the lead in public. Always have ample treats and praise ready to positively reinforce your puppy when they are calm and accepting of each new sound, person, or animal they meet.
Our All Pets Medical Clinic team is excited to meet and provide veterinary care for your new puppy. Call or email our office with any puppy-related question, or to schedule your pet for their initial puppy exam.