What you need to know before bringing a puppy home
It is so much fun and exciting to add a puppy to the house. Are you ready?
Today I’m going to go over some guidelines for bringing a puppy to your family. The first step before bringing a new puppy home is to assess your lifestyle and home environment to make sure you are making the right choice.
How long is he at home? A puppy is like a baby, but without diapers. They need to be potty trained, and it takes time, even if you are going to be potty training. How much time do you have to play and exercise your dog? Some breeds such as Australian Shepherds and Border Collies require a LOT of play, interaction, and exercise. Being alone or not getting enough exercise will make these breeds difficult to manage and miserable.
Another thing to consider is the other pets in the house. How do they get along with the new animals? While it is wonderful to have other dogs to keep your puppy company, the same dogs can become aggressive when a new pet is brought home. This is especially true if they are not sterilized or sterilized.
Unchanged dog hormones can lead to “pack” behavior and possible fights and power struggles. I always advise that all animals be spayed and neutered, and this is another reason why this is so important.
When you go to pick your puppy, watch how they interact with each other in the litter box. Does the puppy play hard with litter mates? Or maybe fearful and hiding from you? A good personality is an active, playful puppy who is not afraid to come to you with a little whim.
You also want to look for health issues. Hair should be shiny and clean, with no hair loss or scabs on the skin. The gums should be pink and moist, with no belly or ribs visible, the ideal time to remove a puppy from the litter is 7-8 weeks old. It is also the time for the first vaccines and veterinary examination.
Once home, it takes about two weeks for a new puppy to adjust. Remember that it is difficult for a puppy to leave littermates and mother. This is one of the reasons for crying, especially at night. They are used to being with their mother and siblings. It can be difficult to be in a new home without the family they know.
Good quality pet food can be supplemented with real food
Just like babies, puppies also lose baby teeth until they are 6 to 7 months old. This means that they need a lot of chew toys, otherwise they will start to chew on you and all of their belongings. Rubbery squishy toys are useful, as are braided sticks that can be soaked in water and put in the freezer to help with teething.
Puppies also need more nutrients in their food to help them grow taller. Good food and nutrition are the building blocks of good health for all animals, especially young growing pets. Good quality pet food can be supplemented with real food, as long as it is healthy and safe.
All vets have their own opinions on this, but I think real food is a good thing to add to high quality pet food that has been properly formulated with vitamins and minerals. I like to add vegetables, sardines in water, salmon, chicken (not fast food chicken), turkey or lean meats.
Foods to avoid are anything cooked in oil, bread, rich or fatty processed meat. I also think all crushed food should be refrigerated or air sealed (vacuum sealed due to Guam’s high heat and humidity). After two weeks of opening, the food may start to spoil or mold may start to grow. This can cause an upset stomach, allergies, skin infections, ear infections, and itching.
Maintain an immunization schedule
Your puppy’s first vaccine should be given between 7 and 8 weeks old. These vaccines are reinforced every 3 to 4 weeks until the age of 4 months. Some breeds should have an additional booster at 5 months because they are genetically more susceptible to the parvo virus or have more severe disease. This includes Rottweilers, Dobermans, Labradors, and German Shepherds.
On Guam, we use a combined vaccine against parvo, distemper, hepatitis and parainfluenza. If your dog could be exposed to feral pigs, the last two vaccines should also include leptospirosis. It is a disease contracted by contact with the infected urine of an infected animal. Rats and feral pigs can be carriers of this disease. Leptospirosis is a bacteria that can affect animals and humans.
There are many variations of leptospirosis bacteria, and the vaccine only protects against certain types. But, since humans can also contract this disease, vaccination is important. All of these vaccines are updated every year. Rabies is also required by law to be administered at 4 months.
Castrate and sterilize at the age of 6 months
I generally recommend that all animals be spayed or neutered before 6 months of age. This not only helps reduce the stray animal population on Guam, but also helps with the health and socialization of your pets. Failure to sterilize males leads to urine marks in the house, fighting and walking away from the house.
Spaying is especially important before your pet goes into heat. Each heat cycle can lead to an increased risk of breast cancer and life-threatening uterine infections.
Spaying an older, larger dog is certainly harder to do and riskier, so doing it at a young age has many benefits. Because hormones cause more pack behavior and females are the leaders of the pack, leaving them unsterilized often results in increased fights between all the animals in the house.
Having a puppy certainly takes a bit of work at first, just like having a human baby, but the rewards of having a happy, healthy dog are so great! We have a huge need for homes in Guam for all unwanted puppies and kittens. Doing our part, if only moderately, will help reduce this need in the future.
Please spay and neuter and enjoy your pets for many happier years.
Dr Lisa Silk is the owner of Isla Veterinary Clinic in Asan. You can contact her at 477-7879 or at [email protected]