Congratulations! Bringing home a new puppy is fun, but it is also a huge responsibility that lasts its lifetime, and for a dog, that can reach 12 years of age and even older. The very first six months of your puppies life are the most crucial and sets up his health and behavior for the remainder of his life. You, as the puppies provider, must make sure he is protected from diseases by visiting your veterinarian for his puppy series of vaccinations. Your veterinarian will also examine your puppy for underlying diseases and start your puppy on heartworm prevention and parasite control medication. Often times these products can be combined in one monthly application that should be administered every month for the rest of your puppies life. Thousands of inadequately vaccinated puppies never make it to see their first birthday because of diseases such as parvovirus and distemper. Thousands more will die from heartworm disease from the bite of one single mosquito, and even more may succumb to intestinal parasites, such as hookworms, even before they even reach 2 months old.
Your puppy should also be neutered before they are six months old. This helps reduce the chance of breast cancer or uterine infections in the female dogs and reduces aggression, roaming, hormonal cancers and marking behaviors in the males.
The majority of dogs relinquished to animal shelters is usually because of behavioral issues, such as dog aggressiveness that results in a dog bite, the inability to house train or unruly and destructive behavior. These are natural tendencies in dogs, and it is your responsibility to learn the how the dog thinks and use the natural, instinctive pack leadership skills to effectively modify both you and your dog’s behavior and solidify a great and rewarding relationship with your new puppy and family
Puppy proofing your home is another safety precaution you must establish. There are several hazards to young puppies you must look out for, such as electrical cords, toxic houseplants, foods that must not be fed, and toxic substances that need to be secured. Providing a safe haven for your puppy, such as a crate, when you are away, will keep him out of trouble and will also hasten house training.
There is so much more that I want to share with you that I have developed a series of newsletters and videos to help you take great care of your puppy and then well into his senior years.
Dr. Debra Garrison