Puppy visits can be overwhelming – so much joy, nervousness, and INFORMATION!!!! This is a time to learn how to develop your relationship with your pup or new dog and how to keep your pooch healthy and happy for years to come.  But, then you get home, and – what was that the doctor said? It can be tough to remember everything you heard when you were also nervous about your first visit.  Here is a great reminder of the ins and outs of what is really important to know about your new friend!

1)       House Training – The best way to house train your puppy is to crate train.  A crate is not used as a punishment – many dogs, when given the chance, retreat to their crate for peace and quiet similar to a den in the wild.  For house training, the crate should only be large enough for the pup to stand up, turn around, and lie down.  Crates that can change size as the pup grows are ideal for this.  A puppy who is older than 8-10 weeks will not urinate or defecate in the area where it sleeps unless made to wait longer than 4-6 hours.  Crates are wonderful for housetraining, and for safe travel in cars, as well as establishing a special place of their own for when dogs are older.

2)       Feeding Times– Pups under the age of 12 weeks should have 3 meals a day.  Dogs older than 12 weeks should be fed twice daily in order to keep blood sugar more regulated and to better control volume intake.  Large meals at times of exercise can lead to bloat and when dogs are allowed to graze throughout the day there is no way to know if they have eaten a large meal before exercise.  It is extremely important throughout life to measure the volume being fed using actual 8 oz cups and your doctor’s recommendation of amount based on weight, breed, and activity of your individual pet.

3)       Which Food – With so many foods on the market, you may believe that a food with veggies in it, with great colors, or no corn or “by-products” is a good food, but it may not be. The bottom line is that there is minimal regulation on pet foods and you must read what is called the AAFCO statement. No matter how good the food brand claims to be on TV or how many store clerks recommend it, if the food does not say “Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that this food provides complete and balanced nutrition” then it has not been tested before hitting the shelves.  If the food simply says “formulated to meet AAFCO standards” (which many high dollar foods do) then it has NOT BEEN FED TO PETS IN TRIALS before being sold to you.  Dr. Sands highly recommends Hill’s Science Diet, Royal Canin, Iams/Eukanuba and Purina ONE Beyond or Purina ProPlan products.  Dr. Sands has fed from all of these brands to her own pets and takes a lot of time finding out what foods her healthiest patients have been consuming and these are the brands that are the most researched and provide the most health benefits to your pet. Please find the appropriate food among these brands that your pet enjoys and that fits their lifestage.  Do not be swayed by flashy ad campaigns slinging mud at other brands – these companies spend their money on advertising and not on testing the food you will be feeding your pet!

4)       Treats – There are many treats that are appropriate for training and rewards- check the calories! Less than 20 per treat please. Some Busy Bones have 600 calories a chew! Treats are rewards, not diet – if you are feeding more than 5 small treats total a day it is important to reduce your diet amount appropriately.  Rawhides, pig ears, and cow hooves are NOT SAFE for most dogs. They can cause stomach upset, or worse, intestinal blockages. PLEASE, do not start feeding people food. This can lead to disease, obesity and poor manners.

5)       Flea and Tick Preventatives – We all know ticks carry disease, but so do fleas! In fact fleas, can even kill your pet by causing anemia.  Also, flea eggs overwinter in our houses and hatch with vibrations such as footsteps or vacuuming.  Ticks are prevalent in spring and fall breeding season but are actual found year round and fleas can start to populate at just 28 degrees! A female flea can lay 50 eggs a day in your house! This means year round preventative is a must and will save you a lot of money, time and heartache by avoiding infestations before they start. Dr. Sands recommends Activyl Plus, Advantix, or Seresto for dogs.  Advantix has to be applied every 1-4 weeks and Seresto is a collar that you and your family could be touching, so she carries solely Activyl Plus on her unit.

6)       Heartworm Prevention – Bottom line – worms in your dog’s heart will kill them! Mosquitos, that carry heartworm, live outside and come INSIDE. We can easily and safely prevent heartworms and two intestinal parasites (roundworms and hookworms) by giving our dogs a chew once a month.  Your family could get roundworms or hookworms if your dog does.  Protect everyone by using Tri-Heart Plus year round.  If you forget more than 1 month’s dose, contact Dr. Sands before restarting the preventative in case your dog has been exposed.

7)       Spaying/Neutering Your Pet – This is simple – the best way to avoid overpopulation, lots of headaches for you, and to save your new puppy from potentially life threatening conditions is to spay and neuter at 6-8  months of age, preferably before the first heat in females.

8)       Intestinal Parasites – “Worms” are everywhere and most are not visible to the human eye. Dr. Sands recommends stool samples every 6 months to look for eggs of intestinal parasites as many parasites can make your dog sick or even be passed to you.  Monthly Tri-Heart Plus helps prevent 2 of these parasites but stool samples help find others that may be hiding in your pet’s intestines.

9)       Vaccinations – Each puppy is an individual and must be treated that way. Puppies have the highest risk of contracting contagious disease and need to receive boosters of several vaccines between 8 and 20 weeks. Dr. Sands will personalize your pet’s vaccine schedule.

10)    Love – The way you train and love your puppy will help to create the bond that is going to last a lifetime! Remember, you are a pet “parent” now. Guidelines and rules are important for a puppy just like a child and a good socialization/skills class at a reputable trainer such as Dandy Dog Training, Fieldwood Dog Training, or Good Dog Rising will help you and your pup get to know each other and develop an even more special relationship.

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