Today is National Puppy Day, and we’ve been focusing on all things puppy for the last few blogs to get you and your new addition ready for puppyhood. We’ve dished on the top tips for new puppy parents, discussed the first vet visit, and talked about which vaccines are needed or recommended.
An ounce of prevention
During your puppy’s first vet visit, you and your veterinarian will decide on which preventatives are best for your puppy. There are several brands of heartworm and flea/tick preventatives on the market, and both are imperative to the health of your puppy. Fleas and ticks spread disease and heartworms can be deadly. Picking a day of the month that is easy for you to remember (the 1st or the 15th or whatever) can go a long way in making sure your pet gets his preventatives each month. Consider adding this event to your paper or computerized calendar (and set a reminder).
The initial bond you form with your puppy is one that will last his entire life. It is important that you teach him good habits from day one. Putting in the extra effort early in his life will pay off when your puppy grows into a well-mannered adult.
Fighting tooth and nail
Open your puppy’s mouth and lift his lips from time to time to get him used to how this feels. Your veterinarian should perform an oral exam at every visit, which could be scary if your puppy isn’t familiar with it. You will probably have to pull the occasional foreign body (i.e. your favorite shoe) out of his mouth quite a few times in his adolescent years, too!
I know it seems counter intuitive, but you actually WANT to encourage your puppy to chew because it good for his teeth and gums. Just be sure to encourage him to chew on the right things. Pick three-to-five toys that are good for chewing and offer these to him. If you catch him chewing on your prized collection of antique wooden figurines, calmly tell him “No!” and offer him something that he is allowed to chew on (and then punish yourself for having your antique wooden figurines somewhere the puppy could reach them!).
Play with his feet and toes. You can and should start trimming his toenails when he is a puppy. The more you handle his feet as a puppy, the better he will act for his pedicures. If you are nervous about trimming his tiny toenails for the first time, be sure to get some pointers from your veterinarian.
Play it by ear
Play with your puppy’s ears. Lift them, peer inside them, and wipe them out with a very soft cloth with each bath. Ear infections can be quite painful, and it’s best if your dog is used to having his ears handled BEFORE his ears are painful.
Enroll your puppy in puppy training class. Not only will this teach you how to teach him basic commands, but it will also socialize him to other people and dogs. Remember that the habits your puppy learns now will stick with him for his whole life so you want them to be good ones!
And finally, puppyhood is the perfect time to get pet insurance from Petplan. Many hereditary conditions are not apparent when your pet is young, so protecting your new best friend with a pet insurer that will cover hereditary conditions for life (like Petplan) is crucial to keeping them – and your family budget – healthy for years to come.