Maizey’s Tail Tips on Pet-Proofing Your Home
- Store all detergents and chemicals out of your pet’s reach
- Restrict access to plants that are dangerous to dogs: poinsettias, azaleas, rhododendrons, dumbcane, Japanese yew, oleander and English ivy, to name a few.
- Store breakable items safely out of the way.
- Hide or cover electrical cords so he won’t chew on them.
- Keep kid’s toys off the floor, since some parts may be small enough for your puppy or dog to swallow.
- Use a cover and/or protective fencing if you have a pool or hot tub.
Taking Care of Your New Puppy
Congratulations on your new puppy! It is so important to learn as much as you can about your new puppy before he grows up. Here is a little information for you to help you take care of him.
1. The very first thing you should do is take your puppy to a local veterinarian. Let the veterinarian take a look at him, administer the correct shots, and so on.
2. If you cannot get to a vet right away, inspect your puppy. Know every part of him, so if there were a change you would notice it. We will start at the ears. Take a look at them inside and make sure they are clear of debris. If you notice black, coffee-grain looking yuck in his ear, then your puppy most likely has ear mites. This is very common if your puppy has been around other dogs. They are microscopic and cannot be seen with the naked eye. You cannot buy over-the-counter medicine to treat ear mites. If you do see mite medicine in the pet store, read it and it will probably say it “prevents” ear mites. At this point, your puppy already has ear mites, so it is imperative that you schedule an appointment with your vet for treatment.
3. The next thing to do is to look at his eyes to make sure they are clear. If they have discharge, then there could be a sign of an eye infection or upper respiratory infection.
4. Next, look at his mouth and notice his baby teeth. The baby teeth will fall out around 4 months of age and he’ll start to get new adult teeth. Right now they are probably very sharp, but once the adult teeth come in, they won’t be as sharp. By the age of 6 months, the baby teeth should have all fallen out and been replaced with adult teeth. If there are still some baby teeth left behind, your veterinarian will be able to remove them. It is very important to remove the baby teeth as it can cause problems later on.
Brushing your puppies teeth is also important in keeping them clean. If you start while he’s young, he won’t mind having his teeth brushed regularly. You can find special finger tooth brushes made for this purpose. DO NOT use human toothpaste as it can cause ulcers in the stomach since they tend to swallow it. There are special pet toothpastes with flavors dogs love.
5. Next, we move on down to the feet. This is a very important part because if you don’t practice this part, you may end up having problems later on. You want your puppy to feel comfortable with you touching his feet and toes. As he gets older, and is not familiar with you touching his feet, he’ll tend to pull away when you try to inspect them. Some dogs will even bite you if you touch their feet. Massage his feet every day. He does not mind it as a puppy. As far as trimming his toenails, you can use just ordinary fingernail clippers. Just take the very tips off. On some puppies, they have clear nails on the end. They are just like our nails. When it starts to get pink, there is a vein that you will nip if you clip it. If you accidentally cut into the vein, it is a little painful, but you can apply either corn starch or flour to the tip to stop it from bleeding. Most puppies have 5 toenails. The fifth one is on the inside, lower down on his foot. This tends to be overlooked and the nail can curl around into the skin and cause painful foot problems. Be sure to trim the back nails, too. If your puppy has black nails, then just trim the tips off. You should probably trim his nails about every 3-4 weeks. But the most important thing is to keep touching his feet as he will get used to it when he is older. When he gets to be about 85 pounds, you definitely won’t want to wrestle with him just to trim his nails!
6. Bathing is important not just to keep him smelling nice but to also limit the bacteria in his skin. Dogs can get a bacterial infection of the skin and need antibiotics to treat the infection. Bathing him every other week or at least 1-2 times a month decreases the risk of infection.
7. The kind of dog food you choose is also very important. The more expensive dog food is much better for him, such as Science Diet, Iams, or Eukanuba. Although these foods may be a little more expensive, they have less fillers in them so they actually tend to eat less of it. With cheaper dog foods, manufacturers add filler to “fill them up” instead of nutrients and dogs will have to eat more of this food to make up the nutrients they are missing. Spending a little more money up front saves money in the long run, and provides better dog food for him. Diet is a key ingredient to healthy, shiny fur. You can really see a difference.
Choosing between dry or canned food can be daunting. He may enjoy the canned food a lot, but can have problems with his teeth later on. Canned food tends to stick to his teeth, causing more tarter buildup, which later on, will require more dental work. With dental work, your dog is actually put under anesthesia and his teeth are cleaned. This can be relatively expensive and sometimes needed once every 2-3 years when they get older. Dry food actually helps scrape the tarter off the teeth, so they can actually go through their life with only 1 or 2 cleanings versus 7 or 8.
8. Next is Heartworms. Heartworms are actual worms that get into the blood stream and eventually live in the heart and lungs. Heartworms are carried by mosquitoes, so 1 mosquito bite that has bitten another dog that has heartworms can easily infect your new puppy. Since all it takes is one bite, your dog is at risk even if he/she lives indoors. When you let your puppy outside to use the bathroom, he can get bitten. Heartworms are highly popular in most states but can be prevented with Heartworm Preventative. A veterinarian prescription is required in order to purchase the medicine. It comes in many different forms: a chewable beef tablet administered once a month, a flavored pill (in case of beef allergy), a topical liquid, and a 6-month shot. All are very safe and work very well if you stick with the preventative regimen. Every year your dog will be tested just in case a dose was missed or was administered late. Heartworms can be treated but it is very costly, and hard on your dog, similar to the side effects that chemotherapy has in humans. Death is a risk during treatments. Most of the time, though, they tend to fare well. Heartworms are not found in stool, and are only found by a blood test.
9. Internal Parasites: Internal parasites is a type of worm that can be found in the stool. These are much different than heartworms and can be picked up from other dogs or just from the ground. Some puppies are born with parasites that the mother has passed on to them. Their bellies tend to appear bloated. Most of the common worms and parasites that are found in puppies are Hookworms, Roundworms, Coccidia, and a few others. Some of these parasites can be transmitted to humans, so it is always a good idea to wash your hands after handling puppies.
10. Spaying and Neutering: Unless you are a reputable breeder, spaying and neutering is something that should always be done as soon as your puppy is of age. Every year, thousands of dogs and cats are euthanized because nobody wants them and there is just no room for them. There are many other reasons to spay and neuter your puppy, too.
Your female puppy doesn’t have to have a first litter. She can get breast cancer and endometriosis if she is not spayed. Every time she goes into heat, her risk of breast cancer increases. With her very first time in heat, her risk of breast cancer rises to 8%. With her second time in heat, her risk jumps to 25%, and increases exponentially with every heat. The risk is so high, that there isn’t much argument to abstain from spaying.
In unneutered male dogs, the risk for prostate cancer is high. Your male puppy will also start to lift his leg on your personal items to mark his territory. But if you have him neutered before he begins to raise his leg, then he won’t learn to lift his leg when urinating. By timing this, you don’t have to be embarrassed when you take your dog out in public, or to the vet’s office. His tendency to roam will also decrease which means he will not get into as many dog fights. The general level of aggression will decrease in a neutered dog as well.
These are just the basics in caring for your dog, but first and foremost, you MUST have your new puppy checked out at the veterinarian. But if you have any questions about your new puppy, please e-mail me at Jhamdow@yahoo.com and I will try to answer questions.