Bringing a puppy home is an exciting time and a healthy choice for you and your family. Pets keep you active, teach your children important life lessons, and have been found to lower stress levels, lower blood pressure and ease social isolation.
Perhaps the more pressing concern for you, though, is how to keep your dog in perfect health. Check out our handy guide for tips on how to keep your new puppy nice and healthy.
1. Healthy Food
Puppies grow fast and require different food to adult dogs, so it is important you have a good idea of what your puppy will need. At this stage, your puppy’s food intake is important for building muscle, strengthening teeth and bones, and ensuring it has sufficient energy to play. But what should your puppy’s diet look like?
If you can find out from the breeder what the pup is usually fed, then continue with that diet and slowly begin adding in new foods. Start off with several smaller meals each day and gradually reduce the amount of meals a day from four to two when the puppy reaches 12 months old. Puppies should be eating solid food after four weeks, but for puppies younger than eight weeks you may need to moisten some of the food.
There are lots of great puppy food options out there—Fuzzy Rescue wrote a post about it—but just make sure to read the packaging to see that the food is right for your dog’s needs. Ask your vet what kinds of foods are best, as nutrient needs tend to change quickly during your puppy’s first year.
One of the first things you’ll need to do once you’ve got your pup is to get them checked for intestinal worms. Most dogs will get them at some point, but they are most common in puppies. Often, your vet will ask for a stool sample to check for this anyway. Worms cause diarrhea and can stunt growth if left untreated. Be sure to administer worming tablets or medicines regularly to prevent your pup from becoming ill.
3. Dental Care
Establish a regular teeth cleaning routine for your dogs to stave off dental disease, which is fairly common in dogs. If your puppy has really bad ‘dog breath’ or its gums are bleeding, you should talk to your vet, who can also supply you with canine toothbrushes and toothpaste. Looking slightly further ahead, adolescent dogs often chew uncontrollably, so give your puppy something to chew on regularly.
Read more: How To Give Your Dog The Best Dental Care
There is no better medicine than prevention, and vaccinations are every bit as important for puppies as they are children. Vaccines will prevent serious and potentially fatal contagious diseases such as parvorirus, rabies and distemper. While your pup may have already been on a course of shots before they come to you, it is important to work out a regular vaccination schedule to ensure that your dog’s immunity is covered and you do not risk extreme illness. Get your puppy its first vaccination at around 6 weeks with regular vaccinations until it is 16 weeks old.
5. Spaying and Neutering
Neutering and spaying is coming under increased scrutiny, but it is still accepted that its benefits are wide ranging. It is best to get your puppy neutered/spayed sooner rather than later, otherwise your puppy may become a dog with an unwanted or unexpected litter. Health-wise, neutering can prevent male dogs from getting testicular cancer while spaying can stop uterine infections and breast cancer in female dogs. Additionally, it may be better for your pet’s mental health, too; dogs can be miserable if they are in heat and cannot find a mate.