Written by Dr. Tracy Williams, DVM
Are you thinking of adding a new puppy to the family? It could be as simple as a trip to a local animal shelter to adopt a new puppy or maybe you have had your eye on a certain breed for a while and think now is the time. Whatever the case, we are here to give you some new puppy tips!
Here are a few new puppy tips to consider to set you and your new puppy up for success:
What to Expect with a New Puppy
First thing to consider with a new puppy is ensuring that the puppy is healthy. Thanks to COVID, we are aware of danger in our current environment, and the fear of people looking healthy on the outside, while being able to spread a virus.
The same holds true for our furry friends. They can also carry intestinal parasites that are contagious to other pets, and some are also contagious to people. It’s very important to plan and budget appropriately for a new puppy’s vaccines and deworming treatment.
New Puppy Vaccinations
Most puppies receive their first vaccine between 6 – 8 weeks of age. This is typically a multivalent vaccine containing several pathogens. You may hear it called a “Parvo shot,” but it also protects against other viruses such as: Distemper, Adenovirus type2, and Parainfluenza.
A veterinarian may also give a Bordetella vaccine at this time, especially if your new puppy is going to need grooming.
Usually, at this first veterinarian visit, a fecal sample is checked for intestinal parasites, and your puppy is given a dewormer. Depending on where you live in the country will also affect this visit. In the Southeast, where there are mosquitos for most of the year, a veterinarian will start them on heartworm prevention, too.
Your puppy’s next veterinarian visit will be 2-3 weeks after the first vaccines. This allows your puppy’s body time to process the first vaccine, and also helps to boost the immune response.
If your puppy had a healthy, vaccinated mother, the presence of maternal antibodies may have minimized the puppy’s own immune response to the first vaccine. The maternal antibodies help protect the young puppy for the first several weeks of life but start to wear out and disappear over the first two months; however, they can last until your puppy is at least 12 weeks old.
Plan for Frequent Veterinarian Visits with Your New Puppy
You should plan to receive at least one vaccine, per veterinarian visit, every 2-3 weeks until your pet is around 4-5 months old. Vaccine protocols will vary depending on where you are in the country and your veterinarian clinic’s specific protocols.
Pro new puppy tips: You can always reach out to your local clinic to ask about their vaccine protocols and get an estimate of what puppy visits range, so that you can appropriately budget for the expense. Some veterinarian clinics offer wellness plans where you can pay a flat fee monthly over a year to cover the cost. Others may offer a packaged deal where you get a discount for paying for all the vaccines up front.
The good news is after the initial vaccination series most of the vaccines only need a booster every 6 months (Bordetella), 1 year (Leptospirosis), and every 3 years (Rabies).
New Puppy with Intestinal Parasites
Let us talk about intestinal parasites next. As mentioned before, some of the worms can be contagious to people. Unfortunately, like the viruses, it is not the worms that we see in the stool that are directly contagious to people. It is the eggs that are passed in the stool that are contagious.
This is why having the fecal checked is extremely important. Many of the intestinal parasites can lead to failure to grow, poor coat health, loose stool (diarrhea), vomiting, severe anemia, intestinal blockages, and even death.
Some puppies like to eat their own or other dog’s stool, so remember to keep your eye on your puppy while exploring outside. It is a habit that can lead them to getting parasites from other animals, and could mean that something in their diet is lacking as well. If your puppy develops this habit, be sure to mention it to your veterinarian. The vet may want to run blood work or check a fecal sample to rule out problems that could be leading to the habit. They may also prescribe something to help curb that urge to eat feces.
Best Food for a Puppy
Over the years, the pet food industry has exploded in the different brands and types of pet food that is available. All dog foods are required to publish a feeding recommendation on the bag. Most of the time it is on the side or back of the bag.
Based off that chart, you can find how much is recommended that your puppy should be getting daily.
These guidelines are based on how many calories are in the food and how many calories your puppy needs based on their weight. For example, a Great Dane puppy will need much more than a Chihuahua.
If you have questions, that is a question that can easily be answered through one of our video sessions. We can help you locate where on the bag that information would be, while also answering your questions about feeding your new puppy.
How to Socialize a Puppy
One last thing to consider in this new puppy tips guide is puppy socialization. There is research that shows how early socialization is especially important for puppies. During the first 3 months of life, many of your puppy’s personality traits are formed and established. This is why getting your puppy exposed to other animals and people is needed during this time. How often should you walk your new puppy?
The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) recommends starting puppy classes a week after the first deworming and vaccine.
Puppy classes help your puppy to become more adjusted to other pets, people, and environments. While there is a risk of exposure during these visits, it is minimized by safety precautions by the instructors.
Failure to imprint social skills on your pet during these early months could result in behavior issues for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, many pets get taken to shelters for many bad habits developed while they were cute puppies. You can see AVSAB’s recommendation about puppy socialization online.
New Puppy Tips for Socialization
One very important tip is to make sure that during the training everyone in the house is on the same page with rules to be established. One household member allowing the puppy to jump on them, while another telling them “no!”, sets up a confusing time for the puppy. Read tips on teaching your puppy to lay down.
Making your puppy only go into the crate when they are bad, or going to bed, can make them hate being in the crate.
Another thing to consider is that “rough play” and biting may be cute when your puppy is 5 pounds and 2 months old, but your puppy may want to continue those habits into adulthood. “Rough play” is much different with an 80lb dog than a cute puppy!
Getting a new puppy is lot to think about and a big responsibility that you have decided to accept, but speaking as a pet parent myself, it is totally worth it!
Still have questions? Hello Ralphie veterinarians are more than happy to help. We would love to answer your questions, via video or chat.