Vaccinating your new puppy is one of the most important things you can do to keep it safe from a variety of diseases that specifically target puppies, like parvo (ADD HYPERLINK TO PARVO ARTICLE attached to the word parvo). Puppy vaccinations also protect against rabies, Bordetella (“kennel cough”), and many other illnesses.
Many dog breeders or shelters vaccinate puppies before adopting them out. Unfortunately, this is rarely creates an immune response capable of protecting your pet. Most breeders give all of the puppy shots by the time the pup is 6-7 weeks old. However, this is ineffective because when puppies are born, their immune systems are not developed enough to provide very much protection. Puppy immune systems don’t begin to mature until they’re at least eight weeks old, so anything given before this has little to no effect. The diseases that puppy vaccinations target, especially parvo, are incredibly dangerous and depending on this ineffective vaccination strategy to protect your pet could be a deadly decision.
Microchips drastically improve the likelihood of your dog being returned to you if it ever runs away or goes missing. A microchip is a small electronic chips encased inside a glass capsule that is about the size of a grain of rice. It is injected under the skin in the same way that shots are given and takes only seconds. There is no maintenance required, although you do have to register the chip online and input your contact information.
If someone finds your dog after it runs away, they can take it to a local veterinary clinic or animal shelter and have it scanned for a microchip. When the microchip is activated by a scanner, it transmits an identification number, which can be used to find your contact information and inform you that your dog has been found.
3. Heartworm Prevention
Heartworms are parasites that infect your pup’s heart after it is bitten by an infected mosquito. This infection has serious consequences, like fluid buildup in the heart and lungs, difficulty breathing, and heart failure. The treatment to get rid of heartworms is expensive and it cannot undo the damage to your dog’s organs. The easiest way to protect your pet from this parasite is to begin giving it a heartworm prevention product as a puppy and continue throughout its life, with periodic heartworm testing to confirm that your pup is safe.
Often, dogs can be infected with heartworms because the owner forgets to give the prevention every month on the same day. Even a few days without protection can result in infection. The Northside Animal Clinic offers several types of heartworm prevention products, but recommends the ProHeart 6 injection, which protects your dog from heartworm infection for six months, removing the responsibility to remember to give your pet its heartworm prevention every month. Not only is this process much easier for you, but your pet will also be safe from this dangerous parasite.
Feeding your puppy a high quality food will provide them with the nutrients their brain and body needs to develop and grow. While lower quality foods tend to be easier on your wallet, they’re often lacking in essential nutrients that support your pup’s growth. After all, “good food is cheaper than medicine.”
The Northside Animal Clinic recommends Royal Canin puppy food or Purina ProPlan puppy food.
5. Spay or Neuter
The Northside Animal Clinic recommends spaying or neutering puppies at approximately 4-8 months of age. There are many reasons to spay or neuter your new pup. It makes your life much easier when you don’t have to deal with heat cycles in females and aggressive mating behavior in males. You don’t need to worry about unwanted litters of puppies or and it lessens the roaming instinct, so your dog will be more content to stay at home.
There are also health benefits. Spaying prevents uterine infections, which are fairly common in non-spayed females, and reduces the chance of breast tumors (if your pup is spayed before the first heat cycle, the incidence of mammary tumors decreases dramatically). Neutering prevents testicular cancer and some prostate problems. In some breeds, spaying or neutering dramatically reduces the chance of bone cancer. These procedures can protect your new puppy from serious health problems later in life and have no effect on their ability to learn or play. In fact, most owners report that their dogs were calmer and better behaved after being “fixed.”
Everyone knows training is an incredibly important part of taking care of a puppy but very few people actually know how to train them. One of the most difficult parts of pet parenthood is trying to bathe them, clip their toenails, and give them medication, but there’s a solution! One of the easiest ways to make your puppy more used to these sensations is to desensitize them while they’re young. Play with their feet and tails while you watch TV every evening. Gently open their mouths and touch their ears, inside and out. These repetitive movements will help your puppy get comfortable with what would otherwise be a foreign sensation, making your life much easier in the future (we promise).