Expert Advice: How to Care for Your New Puppy
Taking on a new puppy is a huge responsibility and requires a lot of your time, attention & love. It can be confusing to know the best ways to care for your puppy so here are some top tips from some veterinary professionals.
You will usually take your puppy home at around 8 weeks of age if you are getting your new pup from a breeder, and this is a very important stage in your dog’s life! It is during this period that puppies begin to learn behaviour, socialisation, training and introduction to solid foods.
Juvenile puppies (2-6 months old) are excitable, playful and very hard work! However it is an ideal time to begin training as they are more likely to learn and adapt to the behaviours you teach them.
Puppies quickly learn how to do important day to day activities like chasing and running and can learn what good and bad behaviours are with simple training techniques.
In regards to preventative health care; worming treatment should be being given every month up until they reach 6 months of age and flea treatment should be being given every other month. After they reach 6 months of age, worming should be given every 3 months and flea every 2 months. However this does depend on the brand you use, and your vet can advise you on the differences between each one. It is not recommended to use a flea or worm product bought from a supermarket or general store as these are a very low strength and often do not work at all.
At 8 weeks it is highly advised you get your puppy vaccinated against harmful diseases. Your puppy can have their 1st vaccination at 8 weeks, and then the 2nd vaccination 2-4 weeks later. These will protect your puppy against parvovirus, lepto-spirosis, hepatitis, distemper and para-influenza.
You may also want to get your pup micro chipped, this will re-unite you with you pup if he ever decides to explore too far!
Pups this age may benefit from going to a puppy party (after being vaccinated) at your veterinary practice. This is where other puppy owners come along with pups for advice and tips on training, and to socialise their pups with others!
At around 6 months of age it is advised you get your dog neutered if you do not want to breed your dog. There are many behavioural benefits to spaying or castrating your dog. Your dog is less likely to roam for a mate, spray in your home and it also generally calms their behaviour down.
Nutrition and water
Weaning – A mother’s milk makes the ideal first food as it’s naturally rich in all the required nutrients and components needed for a healthy immune system. Although puppies get ready for weaning between six and eight weeks old, most will start to take an interest in solid foods at three to four weeks.
This is the best time to start offering a puppy food formula. If you want to feed them dry food, it should be moistened and mashed into gruel. As your puppy gets older you can add less water and make the food progressively drier. It is important not to suddenly switch to solid food as this may put stress on the puppies immune system.
How much to feed: -
Puppies have small stomachs but large appetites, so feed them small amounts on a frequent basis depending on their age, breed and size.
• From starting to offer solid foods (usually two months)
– feed 4-6 meals a day.
• From two to three months – feed 4 meals a day.
• From four to six months – feed 2-3 meals a day.
• Over six months – feed 2 meals a day (depending on breed).
Don’t be tempted to overfeed your puppy to speed up the growth process. The volume could be too much for their developing digestion, leading to digestive upsets and impairing growth, or could accelerate growth unhealthily resulting in unwanted weight gain and painful skeletal problems in the future.
Make fresh, clean water available at all times in the house in a shallow dish and offer more water when the pup has been playing a lot or running around for long periods of time.
Bedding and sleep
Ensure your pup has a warm cosy place at bedtime. A cushioned dog basket is recommended. It is up to you as an owner to decide whether or not your pup can sleep on your bed at night, wherever they sleep, it is good to get them in a routine so they know where to go when it is time for them to sleep. The bed should be soft and warm and be big enough for them to fit in comfortably. Juvenile pups tend to get very tired out from all the playing and running around they love to do in the day, when it’s time to settle down, it won’t be long until they are fast asleep.
Every puppy will be different and you will get into a routine pretty quickly. Always go for regular check-ups at your local veterinary clinic with your puppy to make sure they are developing and growing in the healthiest way possible! They will be able to give you specialized advice for your pup and give you a much needed helping hand.
Your puppy will soon turn your fully grown best friend and will thank you for giving them the best start in life!
Student Veterinary Nurse