If you're reading this, let us be the first to say congratulations on your new puppy! Now that you've taken the first steps into lifelong canine companionship, here are some things to think about to support your new puppy in living a healthy, happy life that's best suited for your lifestyle.
Puppies need to eliminate frequently. In general, they need to go after sleeping, after playing, and within an hour after eating. The first step is to choose an area where you would prefer the puppy to eliminate (preferably through adulthood) such as grass, gravel, etc. It is best to set your puppy up for success and make the area of choice accessible at times your puppy will need to eliminate, then praise the behavior.
You can teach your puppy to eliminate on command by repeating the command as he is going to the bathroom at the same time as you give the praise. Punishing the puppy for eliminating in less desired areas may make your puppy insecure, fearful or secretive and he may go in harder to find areas.
Crate training helps with potty training because instinctually dogs don’t like to eliminate in their own beds. The crate needs to be the appropriate size to be a helpful tool. It should be just large enough for your puppy to stand up and turn around. It is also helpful to not leave your puppy unattended. Always have him in sight so that you are aware of his need to eliminate and can guide your puppy to the desired location. Even with the best training, accidents happen. Be prepared with a good enzymatic cleaner such as “Nature’s Miracle”.
Crate training comes in handy should your dog ever need to travel in a crate, be in one at the groomers, or if your puppy is unable to be directly supervised to prevent him from getting into harm or trouble. Being crate trained also makes hospitalization less stressful. The crate may become a safe haven where a dog can rest if he develops a fear from things like storms or fireworks. The crate should not be used as a punishment tool. Getting your puppy used to being in the crate is easiest if done in short intervals when your puppy is tired, in a quiet environment and with high value rewards such as a stuffed “Kong”.
Upon acquiring a new puppy, fecal testing is highly recommended. Intestinal parasites can be transmitted from the mother or picked up from the environment and other animals. Many parasites are zoonotic meaning they can be transmitted to people. Parasites can become hazardous to our health, particularly in children and immune suppressed individuals. While some parasites may be visible to the naked eye at certain life stages, it is impossible to determine if your puppy has intestinal parasites based on looking at poop. A microscopic exam is necessary. Your puppy can have intestinal parasites without having diarrhea or a very large belly. Not all dewormers kill all parasites and some need to be given in multiple doses at different intervals to kill the whole life cycle of the parasite.
It is recommended that puppies receive a series of vaccines usually starting around 6 weeks of age. The reason they need a series is because (assuming they nursed) they have immunity acquired from their mothers that wears off over time. We are unable to tell the rate that their immunity against certain diseases wears off exactly because it is different for individual puppies. The vaccines are given 3-4 weeks apart until 15-16 weeks of age.
The series covers canine distemper virus, parvovirus, infectious hepatitis and leptospirosis. They will also need a rabies vaccine, which is required by law. Additionally, there are some elective vaccines which may be recommended (i.e. rattlesnake, Lyme’s, Bordetella, Influenza) based on your puppy’s risk level. Please discuss the elective vaccines with your veterinarian to determine your puppy’s need.
Nutrition is important for many reasons from proper bone development to supporting learning. With so many types of diets available these days, and different needs for individual dogs, finding the right diet can be overwhelming. We recommend a high-quality puppy food such as Royal Canin Puppy formula or Hill’s (Science Diet) Puppy formula. Puppy food should be fed until the puppy reaches bone growth maturity.
Pet insurance/pet care financing
Although very important, we all know medical care can become a financial constraint. Puppyhood is an ideal time to consider pet insurance because “pre-existing conditions” are not as prevalent. In the hopes that a difficult decision due to limited finances can be prevented, pet insurance is recommended. A couple of companies that we recommend are “Trupanion” and “Embrace”. Trupanion offers a 30-day free trial if you sign up within 24 hours of your exam. We recommend you contact the companies directly to discuss with them the best plan for your pet.
If pet insurance is not of interest to you and a medical emergency arises that proves to be more than your bank account will allow, Care Credit is a financing option that may be available. Care Credit will allow you to charge up to a certain amount based on your credit. Interest rates may occur.
Puppy classes are designed to help pets become well-adjusted and well-behaved citizens. Also, the classes are for owners to learn how to best meet the emotional and mental needs of their individual pets, as well as to provide guidance in training to be a good fit for the owner’s lifestyle. Puppy classes can help facilitate the owner-pet bond. Unwanted behaviors are easier to prevent rather than to stop, and if they need to be stopped, they are easiest stopped if worked on early.
Here is a list of recommended local dog trainers:
- Ann Geser | call: (541) 610-2362 (1 on 1 preferred)
- Cascadia K9 Training | call: (541) 639-4319
- Lee Edlun | call: (541) 318-8459
- Lori Nickeson | call: (541) 382-7752
- Sheryl Evans | call: (541) 548-3828 (1 on 1 only)
Part of helping your puppy become well-adjusted is to socialize him thoroughly. It is important to create positive experiences when introducing new people, animals, objects, noises, etc. Try to introduce a variety of things. Think of all sorts of people – tall, short, different ethnicities, people in wheelchairs, in hats or uniforms, etc. Think of different noises – babies crying, airplanes, vacuums, farm animals, gunfire, etc.
Puppyhood is a great time for getting your puppy used to being handled all over too. It is important to get your puppy used to having paws, ears and mouths looked at. These habits will also make things such as veterinary exams, nail trims and at home dental care less stressful for your puppy and easier for you. If you have a fearful or shy puppy, we welcome you to make visits with us for handling and treats in order to encourage positive experiences at the veterinary clinic.
A microchip is a form of permanent identification that is the size of a rice kernel and placed under the skin. If your pet were to get lost or stolen and end up at a veterinary clinic or shelter, the chip would be scanned. The company who manufactured the chip would be called, and you, the owner, would be contacted to be reunited with your pet. If we implant your puppy’s microchip, it comes with a lifetime registration with HomeAgain’s national pet recovery database.
Here in Central Oregon, flea and tick prevention is most important during our spring, summer and fall seasons. Fleas not only create very itchy bites but also can transmit disease and tapeworms. Ticks may create a local infection at the site they choose to bite, and they can carry several diseases. The diseases your dog may contract can be hard to detect without extensive testing. We offer a few different options to keep fleas and ticks away. You may choose either a chewable (Bravecto), topical (ParaStar) or a collar (Seresto) for flea and tick prevention. If you need additional help in deciding which option would be best for your puppy, we are happy to discuss it with you.
Heartworms are transmitted by infected mosquitoes. Mosquitoes inject small amounts of larvae when they bite your puppy and the larvae travel through the bloodstream until they settle in the heart and grow to adult heartworms. Heartworm disease is deadly if not caught and treated. Prevention is easier, safer and less expensive than treatment. We recommend starting your puppy on a monthly heartworm preventative that consists of an oral chew (Interceptor Plus) at 15 weeks of age. Your puppy should have his first heartworm test at 9-12 months of age. Testing for heartworm is recommended every 2 years, or every year if your pet is traveling out of Central Oregon. Testing is required even if your dog is on a preventative.
Oral health is very important to your pet’s overall health. Dental disease can cause disease in internal organs such as the heart and kidneys. There are many things that you can do at home to prevent dental disease such as brushing (using a dog approved product such as “CET enzymatic toothpaste”), dental chews, mouth washes, topical gels, and dental diets. Puppyhood is an ideal time to introduce preventative care and begin brushing the teeth. Doing preventative care at home can help prevent or postpone the need for a veterinary dental cleaning. Let’s keep those pearly whites pearly and healthy!
Spay and neuter
Spaying and neutering are important to prevent unwanted pregnancies, infected uterus (pyometra), breast cancer, inflammation or infection of the prostate, and sometimes unwanted behaviors. Depending on the size and breed of your dog, the age at which spaying or neutering will be recommended will vary. The reason for waiting longer for larger dogs is to allow their skeletal system to finish growing (larger dogs take longer to finish growing) In addition, waiting longer can help make them less prone to certain musculoskeletal injuries. In general, the recommendation is 6-9 months for dogs with adult weights of 25# or less, 12 months for dogs with adult weights of 50-100# and 18 months for dogs with adult weights of over 100#.
Anal sacs are 2 small scent glands just inside your dog’s anus. The substance inside these glands are used for marking, but they don’t have very much purpose for our domesticated friends. The glands should empty when your dog has bowel movements. Sometimes anal glands can become an issue if they are not emptying naturally as they should, and they can become infected or can rupture. Some dogs need their anal glands expressed manually by a professional on a regular basis. Anal sac removal is an elective surgery and can often be done at the time of spay or neuter.