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What I Need To Know When Getting a New Puppy

Girl With PuppiesGetting a new puppy can be both an exciting time and an uncertain one. You have this new living, breathing, chewing addition to your family and you aren’t sure what to do next. Every day I have people come in my hospital and say “Doc, educate me.” That is what I will try to do here.

Many thanks to examiner.com for their recent endorsement of this article in their coverage of what to know before you adopt a puppy.examiner.com logo Getting a New Puppy

Setup an Appointment with Your Local Vet

The first thing you should do once you have gotten your new puppy home is set up an appointment with your local veterinarian to have your new pet examined. Your veterinarian will be able to detect or rule out any potential, congenital, or acquired problems. He or she will also be able to help you decide on the vaccination schedule that suits your pet’s needs. This brings me to the first of my top three topics when speaking to a new pet owner.

Getting New Puppy Vaccinated

Vaccinations are an essential part of keeping your pet safe, healthy, and happy. There are a number of things your veterinarian may want to vaccinate your pet for depending on your pets age, prior vaccination history, environment and so forth.

Top Two Diseases Vaccinations Will Prevent

The two diseases that are in my opinion at the top of the list for puppy vaccines are canine distemper and canine parvovirus. Both diseases are potentially fatal diseases for dogs, especially puppies, but they can be easily prevented by proper vaccination of your pet. Remember that it is always necessary to have your pet’s vaccines boostered (a booster shot is a dose of an immunizing substance given to maintain or renew the effect of a previous one).

Spay or Neuter Your Puppy

The second thing that I discuss with new puppy owners is spaying or neutering their dog. Spaying and/ or neutering your dog simply makes he or she a better companion in many cases. There are numerous health reasons why it is beneficial to alter your pet at an early age, not to mention your responsibility as a pet owner to help control the overall pet population.

The Health Benefits of Spaying or Neutering

Health benefits include:

  • A decreased incidence in certain types of diseases specific to both male and female dogs, ensuring that your female dog will not have a potentially fatal disease called pyometra (infected uterus)
  • Eliminating the chance of any pregnancy or birthing problems
  • Mental health benefits.

The bottom line is that if your pet was not bred or intended to be a breeding animal, then it is in their best interest and yours to have them spayed or neutered.

Heartworm Disease and Prevention

The last of the three topics that I discuss with new pet owners is heartworm disease and heartworm prevention. Everyday I speak to people who have no idea what heartworm disease is, where it comes from, or how to prevent it. Most of these people are fantastic pet owners and would do anything to keep their family members safe and healthy. The problem is either a lack of client/ owner education or misinformation/ misunderstanding of the disease.

How are Heartworms Spread?

Heartworm MosquitoHeartworms are spread to dogs by the mosquito. When an infected mosquito takes blood from a dog, the heartworm is passed to the dog where it slowly makes its way to the heart and stays. Over time the infection becomes worse with larger numbers of worms infecting the heart and reproducing, making this a downward cycle for your pets health.

Diagnosing Heartworm Disease

Heartworm disease can easily be diagnosed by your veterinarian with the use of a simple blood test. Thankfully, most cases I diagnose are asymptomatic cases and the dog is diagnosed on his or her yearly physical exam. Dogs with heartworm disease can be treated effectively and go on to lead happy and healthy lives.

The point of this topic is to make it so that we are treating our pets less for diseases like these and spending more time and often less money preventing these diseases.

Where are Heart Worms Found and How Much Does Prevention Cost?

To date I have never heard of a good reason not to have every dog in the United States on heartworm prevention medicine. Heartworms have been diagnosed in all 50 states, with Texas, Florida, and North Carolina leading the way in reported cases annually. The cost per month to provide your dog with heartworm prevention each and every month is around $10 per month or less.

What Types of Heart Worm Prevention are There?

There are a wide variety of different types of heartworm prevention available – from a monthly tablet to a topical solution, and even an injection that is administered every six months. Not all medicines are appropriate for all animals. Ask your veterinarian what he or she recommends to use as a heartworm preventative for your dog.

Our pets are our best friends and all they do is give us unconditional love. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves and do what we can to give them the happiest and healthiest lives possible. If you have a new puppy or you simply have a dog who has not been to see your veterinarian, then please contact your local vet today and set up an appointment. Your dog will thank you for it.

Why Puppies Need Special Food

Just like babies, puppies require a diet that is different from adult dogs. The reason for this is exactly the same as the reason for babies needing different food than adults, different nutritional needs and different processing abilities. Younger puppies have a considerable amount of growing to do in order to reach their adult size and in order to grow to that size and remain healthy, it is imperative that they obtain the right levels of vitamins and minerals their bodies need.

How is Puppy Food Different to Regular Adult Dog Food?

Calories

Puppies need special dog foodOne of the biggest differences between puppy food formulas and adult dog food formulas is that puppy food is much higher in calories. To look at the numbers let’s take a look at Eukanuba Puppy small breed formula food and Eukanuba Adult Maintenance small breed formula dog food. The puppy food formula contains 502.52 kcal per cup of food; the adult formula contains 457 kcal per cup. This calorie count is further reduced to 316 kcal per cup for weight control adult formula. As puppies grow they require more calories in order to keep up with their energy requirements needed to maintain healthy growth. Most dogs attain their full size by 12 months old which is why it is important to provide enough caloric intake throughout multiple daily meals within the first year of a dog’s life.

Breaking Down Calories in Dogs Food

Depending upon the specific needs of a particular dog, the caloric breakdown of one dog food may be better suited than those of another. The breakdown of this caloric information can generally be found both on the manufacturer’s website as well as on the bag of dog food itself. In the example of Eukanuba Puppy small breed formula food; the caloric distribution is as follows: protein 28.61%, fat 45.93% and carbohydrate 25.46%. Comparing this to the adult food of the same style the caloric distribution is as follows: protein 24%, fat 38% and carbohydrate 38%. The caloric breakdown for the adult weight loss formula is currently unavailable.

Food Content

During different stages of their lifetime, different dogs have significantly different needs in terms of the content of their food aside from just calories. Let’s once again take a look at the Eukanuba foods used in the example above.

Protein

The minimum crude protein level of Eukanuba Puppy small breed formula food is 32%. The adult formula has a lower 28% protein level and the weight loss formula has just 22% protein. Protein is essential in order for a healthy dog to thrive and provides essential amino acids for dogs to function. 10 of the 22 amino acids that dogs require must be provided by diet alone. Due to the considerable rate of growth and development that puppies undergo, they require more of these amino acids than their fully grown counterparts. One of the most important roles of amino acids in the puppy is in the development of the immune system.

Fat

The minimum crude fat content of Eukanuba Puppy small breed formula food is 21%. The adult formula has a lower 18% and the weight loss formula has just 12%. Just as fats are important for young babies to develop, they are equally as important for puppies. Fats are an important energy source for dogs and they also give dry dog foods a better taste. Additionally fats can serve to carry fat soluble vitamins. Dogs that have adequate levels of healthy fats in their diet have a better coat condition, a better body fat ratio and are more able to perform any task that involves muscles. Fat is one of the contributors to calories in puppy food.

Crude Fiber

The minimum crude fiber content of Eukanuba Puppy small breed formula food is 4%. This number remains constant through all varieties of this dog kibble regardless of the age of the dog. Fiber is not considered to be an essential nutrient for dogs; however, due to the ingredients of dog kibble, it is always present in dog foods. While fiber can contribute to the health of the digestive system, there is no benefit known to giving younger puppies increased levels of fiber in their diet.

Omega-6 Fatty Acids

The minimum omega-6 fatty acids levels found in Eukanuba Puppy small breed formula food are 3.35%. The adult formula has 2% and the weight loss formula has 2.1%. Omega-6 fatty acids are also recognized as Linoleic Acid or (LA.) Linoleic acid is crucial in all dog food in order to help maintain skin and coat health by moisturizing the skin. As puppies have much more growing to do and have much more sensitive skin they require higher levels of omega-6 in their kibble.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

The minimum omega-4 fatty acids levels found in Eukanuba Puppy small breed formula food are .45%. The adult formula has .4% and the weight loss formula has .3%. Omega-3 fatty acids are important for balancing out the omega-6 fatty acids in the diet to ensure swelling does not result from administration of omega-6. Veterinarians recommend the ideal omega-6 to omega-3 ration stand at around 5:1.

Can Puppies Eat Kitten Food?

One common mistake that people make is that puppy food and kitten foods are similar in content. Due to this misconception puppy owners sometimes feel that in the event that they do not have puppy food on hand they can feed their puppy kitten food. Puppies have extremely different nutritional needs than kittens and feeding them kitten food can be detrimental to their health. If you find that you have no puppy food available the best solution is to purchase more or to feed your puppy white rice and plain canned or unflavored grilled or baked chicken breast. The best way to avoid running out of your puppy’s food is to join an auto delivery service or simply always keep a backup bag of food on hand.

Our site's mission is to help consumers make more informed purchase decisions. This website accepts financial compensation from some of the companies mentioned which allows us to provide this free service to our readers. Compensation does not influence the rankings of products. More info on our disclosure page.

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About Pet Doc
The pet doc is a veterinarian who has consulted with our site for many years. While he is still practicing and licensed, he volunteers his time to help us educate you, our readers, and has asked to donate this time and contribution anonymously. HIs 10+ years of experience in the field is invaluable as he helps to answer our reader’s pet-related questions. And hopefully, you will find his insights and helpful tips as much as we do.
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24 comments

  1. Growing up we always raised dogs, so I'm pretty familiar with the steps it takes when first bringing a puppy home. However, I currently live on the 3rd floor of an apartment building and I'm planning on getting a puppy in the next month. I remember how often an owner should take the puppy outside while house training and I'm really starting to have second thoughts because of how difficult it will be since I'm on the 3rd floor. Does anyone have any tips or tricks for house training a puppy on a high floor of an apartment building?

  2. I love puppies and really, who doesn’t?  The boundless energy and curiousity all packaged into a version of cute that will almost literally melt your face.  Puppies are amazing and I would never discourage somebody who was aptly prepared from getting one.  However, if you do not realize how much work, love, and attention they need to grow up to be good, well adjusted dogs, then you need to make sure you are aware of what you are getting yourself into.

    This article outlined a lot of the health care needs and veterinary costs that go into having a puppy, but there are a lot of other expenditures too.   An expenditure to ready your home for the impending terror and destruction that a puppy can inflict is necessary for your own sanity, but also an expenditure of time and energy must be made to train the dog for social interaction and to make sure it respects the boundaries of your home.  Nobody likes a dog that messes in the house and jumps on the couch with dirty paws, but puppies will do this until somebody trains them.

  3. Whenever someone gets a new puppy they are usually going to experience a combinations of different emotions. Of course, happiness, but also maybe feelings of nervousness and even a little bit of being overwhelmed. This is especially true for someone who is a first time dog or puppy owner. This article has several great tips to help guide you through the initial steps to take for ensuring your puppy gets off to a healthy start.

    The first thing you want to do is find a good veterinarian. This doctor will become your best friend. Have the little one checked out and follow all of the recommendations that the doc gives you.

    Next, you will likely need to have the little one scheduled for some vaccinations. These will vary a little bit according to the breed and where you live and their actual age. However, make sure to have some that help control various types of worms and rabies, for starters.

    Then, consider having the little one spayed or neutered. A male dog can even have this procedure done with a simple injection.

  4. I thought I was well-prepared when I purchased my first puppy. I had done my research and knew how to take care of a puppy and train them. However, there were so many things I did not expect. People I knew would just laugh and say, “Welcome to owning a puppy.” I have to admit that it was quite irritating. So, I thought I would share some of the experiences I felt others should know about.

    First of all, puppies have to use the bathroom – A LOT! Thankfully, I work from home and was able to take my puppy out every hour, as I had read to do. The only problem was that she sometimes needed to go even more than that, which led to a few accidents in the beginning. I also found out that puppies cannot make it through the night, even when you take them out right before bed. This led to many 2AM bathroom trips.  Lastly, I had no ideas that puppies could be so full of energy. It was like my dog was on crack, but according to everyone I knew, this was perfectly normal.

    With all that said, puppies are a wonderful addition to any home that has the time to take care of them and has researched what it takes to raise a puppy.

  5. This is a great article that covers the basics of what it takes to bring a new puppy into your family and your home.  Truthfully, if you are not ready for the responsibility and time requirements to have a new baby in your house, you really should not take on the necessary functions to take care of a new puppy.
     
    Dogs are simple creatures, very easy to teach, but puppies are a completely different set of circumstances.  They, like children, have a different set of learning challenges that adult dogs and adult humans do.  First of all, they have almost boundless energy that will prevent them from breaking into a dead run or all-out play at any given moment.  For this reason, you must have patience with a short attention span and a real love for the actions of a young dog.
     
    Furthermore, you have to take great care not to drive a wedge between you and your new dog by over-doing it with discipline and punishment.  They respond well to rewards and consequences, but they are also sensitive animals, just like us.

  6. Being responsible for another living thing can be a little nerve wracking, but also exciting at the same time. However, it is important to remember to take some basic steps when getting a new puppy.

    The first thing you want to do is take them to a good veterinarian. Have a thorough check up. Then, really listen to what the vet tells you about their health and some of the issues which you may need to deal with. Follow their recommendations closely.

    You will likely be advised about certain vaccinations that are needed. By all means go ahead and take care of these. Just as with human babies, there are a number of things which can attack the fragile immune system of a new puppy. Vaccinations are just good common sense methods of protection.

    The author here also recommends that you seriously consider spaying or neutering your puppy at this early age. Doing so now does carry a number of health benefits. Also, your dog will probably suffer much less in the end if this procedure is done sooner rather than later.

  7. This article will be very helpful to any new puppy owner. Of course, being responsible for a living thing that is completely and totally dependent upon you can feel a bit overwhelming at first. Fortunately, the author has included some great tips which should get even the most novice of puppy owners off to a good start.

    The first thing is to take your puppy to a good veterinarian. Just have them checked out for overall health. Listen to their suggestions and recommendations; it is probably a good idea to do everything they counsel. This will likely mean having your puppy receive some vaccinations. At the very minimum, you want to vaccinate against canine distemper and parvovirus, both of which can cause severe problems, especially to younger puppies.

    You may also want to consider having your little one spayed or neutered. This is the best way to help control the pet population and it also has some excellent health benefits. It will help to prevent certain types of diseases and conditions, some of which could be potentially fatal (like infected uterus in female dogs).

  8. I think when you are shopping for a new puppy you should also think about the reason you are getting the puppy in the first place. This will help you decide on what kind of breed to get and what to do with it once you do get it. It might also help you decide where you are going to go to get the puppy. For instance, if you want to breed it later, you do not want to go to the humane society because they insist that you get the pup fixed when age permits.

    On the other hand, if you just want a pup for your child to play with, you might do fine with a mutt rather than a rare breed that is going to have a high maintenance schedule. You will also want one that is not bred to be a guard dog. Some traits can be tamed out of a bloodline, but others take generations to change.

    You should also consider how much time you are willing to put into this puppy. If he is just going home to be tied up, please don't bother. If he is going to be something you are going to show, then you need to make narrow choices. Just do some research about breeds and sources before you actually make a purchase.

  9. I know that people look at puppies and get lost in the idea that this furry little creature is so cute and lovable. They sometimes forget that little Mr. Fuzzy is going to grow up one day and he not only is not going to be fuzzy anymore, he may not be as cute as you thought he was going to be. Please be informed about the animal you are getting before you bring him home and he is forgotten about.

    Something else to consider is the breeding of the animal. I know there are those that will not have anything but a pure bred dog in their home. That is fine as long as you are prepared to deal with the issues that often come with pure bred animals. You cannot breed along the same line over and over and think that there are not going to be any signs of that in an animal's DNA.

    For instance, I had a pup one time that was pure bred. She was a cute little thing and I won't say her breed because I don't want to give the wrong impression. But she had major health issues because of her breeding. While she was cute as a pup, her skin was horrible when she got older, something I later learned is a mark of the breed.

  10. When getting a new puppy many owners are worried and unsure about what they should do. This is especially true for first time owners. After all, there is now a new living creature that is totally dependent upon them for their very survival. Yes, this can be a big responsibility. Fortunately, this article goes over some of the most important things that a new puppy owner should do in order to ensure the good health of their new best friend.

    The first step to take may be to have your animal vaccinated. Even before this step, you should have already seen a qualified veterinarian. It is possible that they may recommend a number of additional steps or other vaccinations to take. Always follow this advice. Also, make sure to get your puppy vaccinated for canine distemper and parvovirus, both of which can be deadly.

    The author also strongly recommends having your pup protected against heartworms. There are a number of different treatments for this which can range from pills to injections to topical solutions. It would be a good idea to check with your vet.

  11. Once you have gotten a new puppy you are likely to be both excited and maybe even a bit scared and nervous. After all, you are now responsible for the health and welfare of another living thing. One of the biggest questions that many new owners have is what to do next.

    The first thing that most experts recommend is to have your new puppy examined by a qualified vet. They will make sure that nothing serious is wrong with the little one and probably answer most of the questions you might have about the care of the animal.

    You will also want to have your puppy vaccinated. This includes shots for canine distemper and parvovirus which are both entirely preventable diseases. It is also recommended to immediately start your puppy on heartworm medicine. Heartworms are just bad news and can cause a lot of problems (and pain) in your puppy, plus infect a number of additional animals. The cost for this prevention is probably less than 10 bucks a month, so there really is no excuse not to do so.

  12. It has been years since I had a puppy. And when I did have a puppy, I was very young and had no idea about all the things you need to do for your little dog. I fed him, cleaned up after him, walked him, snuggled him, and played games with him. My parents took care of everything else because I was too young to do so. In fact, it scared me when they took him to the vet because I only knew that I went to the doctor if I was sick. I was afraid that my puppy had gotten sick and I had not noticed it. I would get all upset and cry to my mother. But he was not sick. He was going for his shots or checkup.

    Now that I am a mother and I have a child who wants a puppy, I am the one who needs to take care of these things, but I don't know everything that I am supposed to do. I know there is special puppy food I can get at the store for him and I know that the vet has to give him some shots, but I really do not know what all I am supposed to give him. I appreciate that you put this information here because now I at least have an idea of what to do for my pup.

  13. Maybe it's just because I'm a mom, but I noticed the way my puppy's smell changed when grew. If you're a mom, you know what I'm talking about. You notice when your toddler doesn't smell like an infant. You notice when your little boy smells like Axe now instead of soap. The same thing happens with a puppy. As they grow, their smell changes to. They stop smelling like a puppy and start smelling like a dog.

    I'm sad to say that I just noticed this today on my own dog. He was such a cute puppy, and he's a handsome dog. But, it was a rough road that made me think that people should probably think real hard before they get a puppy. They can drive you crazy. Yes. They are really cute and smell so sweet, but they are like manic toddlers sometimes. You can't really get mad because they are just toddlers, but they can drive you crazy. And you have to train them. If you don't, part of that behavior will never stop. If it wasn't for my son, I wouldn't have a puppy, And I never want one again. They keep you busier than you imagine.

  14. I love to see little kids playing with puppies. I really do. It looks so sweet and cute. You just want to make sure that those 2 get to go home together. The problem is that people often don't think past that cuteness.

    Let's say you have a toddler. Are you prepared to clean up after the toddler AND the puppy? I mean, there is only so much bodily waste that a person can deal with before they become disgusted. And if your child is older than that, are they ready to pick up after their puppy? Is it going to be more of a chore for you to get your child to clean up after the puppy than it would be for you to do it yourself?

    If you're going to get a puppy, you have to think of it just like a child. Yes, they are adorable. But they are also messy and will destroy things in your home without any malice in them at all. Are you prepared to pay for that and clean up after it? Do you have the time to do all the training that you're going to have to do in order to keep your sanity? If not, please don't take that puppy home with you.

    And if there is even a slight chance that you have to put your dog on a chain outside, please don't take that puppy home with you. I hate to see that and I hate to think about how that dog must feel. Either take a pet home and treat hm or her as a member of your family, or don't take that pet home.

  15. I have a young son, so I know how tempting it can be to take a pup without actually being prepared to raise one. You see that pup all snuggled up to your boy. You look in your boy's eyes and see heartbreak at the thought of not having the pup, and before you know it you're adding to your family without having a clue as to what you can expect.

    I suspect this is how it starts. Then you get frustrated because you forgot that kids are irresponsible by nature and puppies are really just small toddlers with sharp teeth and no diapers. Then there is the expense of the doctor's visits, the fencing, food, and all the toys, collars, and leashes.

    Do yourself a favor. After you see that pup, go home and evaluate your house. Is it puppy friendly? Do you have new carpet that you're not afraid to put at risk? Is your child a child that quickly forgets new interests? 

    One of the saddest things I see is that people bring home a pup, get mad when he chews everything, and is soon enough forgotten by the child. Then he gets chained in the backyard and his life of misery begins. If you have to ever chain a pup, just don't get one.

  16. Friends, most of us love pet animals very much. The admins of Canine Journal have provided an excellent platform to share tips and ideas to those who are trying to buy new puppy. When talking about puppies or dogs, they are the most faithful and sincere pets which guard our home 24 hours a day.

    As mentioned above, we must pay our attention in many aspects like in its health, food or training. And from my point of view, dog training is the most important and crucial matter. It doesn’t only teaches your pet to be obedient and faithful but also tackles the problems and aware you in difficult abnormal situations. So, I must suggest to all of you folks that buying puppy is not a big deal, but maintaining its health and habit is the fundamental procedure to be performed.

  17. I love pets very much. You have provided excellent tips to who are willing to buy new puppy. Well, Well, currently I am searching for tramadol a pain reliever. My back is paining badly I desperately need it. Do you know where I will get it.

  18. How do I train my dog?

    I want my dog to bite off strangers and street dogs. Does any one know any institute that deals with puppy training? Please post under this if you have experience with specific institutes which specialize in training puppies.

  19. If you plan to sign up with a pet insurance plan timing will be key! Apply for the policy as soon as you can after that initial veterinary exam. If you wait, any condition which is found prior to buying the policy will be pre-existing and they will not pay for any expenses related to it.

    Also, wait at least three weeks before your next vet exam, whatever he finds during the first couple of weeks can also be considered pre-existing!

    If you find an insurance company which does not require an initial exam to sign up, then sign up before that exam and wait at least three weeks before going to the vet. Pre-existing conditions are the easiest way they get you… So be aware ;)

    And if you want to compare policies from different companies, you can use petinsurance.net – their service was great a couple of months ago, when I used it.

  20. Our kids love to play with our puppy. If the puppy gets sick, there’s a chance our kids will get sick too. In such a case we must visit the nearest pet pharmacy. In addition, puppy training should be provided to little puppies. Training provides exercise and social interaction as well as keeping the puppy physically fit.

  21. I have had some good success with some all natural Herbal Wormers. They have taken my dog from sick to totally clean in just a few months.

  22. In addition to making sure your new puppy is healthy and medically sound, you might also want to consider puppy training. Young dogs can be quite a handful with all their energy, but some obedience and different social settings will be to their benefit – and your shoes and furniture. :)

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