Caring for a puppy is both a lot of responsibility and a lot of fun. So we’ve compiled a list of basic puppy care tips for you to make sure your pup stays in good health.
Going to the Vet
When you get a new puppy, you’ll want to schedule an appointment with a vet. You may immediately be due for some shots depending on where you got your pup and how old they are. If they aren’t currently due, you’ll be able to get a health check-up and get on a schedule for yearly shots. Your vet will give your dog vaccinations to prevent common issues and a rabies shot which is required in most states.
Recurring vet check-ups will also help you ensure your pup is a healthy weight & check for issues like heartworms. You’ll give these pills to your dog once per month to prevent mosquitos from possibly passing heartworms to your dog, which can be fatal.
If you don’t plan on breeding your dog, it’s also a good idea to talk to the vet about spaying or neutering. This helps prevent issues with other dogs, improves behavior & eliminates some potential health issues.
Ticks & Fleas
If you’re bringing your dog outside, you’ll want to consider a repellant. We bring our dog to the woods & to the lake and occasionally have to pull ticks off of him. We use Frontline repellant during the spring-fall months to prevent ticks. You’ll still want to make sure and check them after a trip in the woods.
Depending on your breed, you may have different health concerns to keep an eye on. Your vet can tell you what to watch out for. For our Lab, we need to keep an eye on his ears to make sure they’re not red & infected. In most cases, we can just clean them out with an ear-cleaning solution in the summer & it keeps him healthy. A couple of times, we’ve gotten some prescription drops to help him out.
For more info, check out this guide to cleaning dog ears.
Puppies Eat Anything
Remember that your pup will put just about anything in its mouth. You’ll want to make sure there’s nothing dangerous in reach. These include things like things that will break apart or trash. Our pup has a habit of digging into the trash, so we got a locking trash can. Unfortunately, there isn’t one of these everywhere we go, so we have to keep an eye out.
If you don’t watch your dog, it can be an expensive vet trip if he’s eaten something he shouldn’t. I cleaned the ash out of a grill once before I realized my dog was eating it and needed to get taken to the vet.
This is also a good time to mention pet insurance. Paying for insurance coverage can significantly lower the blow when there’s a health emergency.
My friend just had to bring his puppy to the vet for X-rays after it ate part of a blanket, and that set him back eight hundred dollars. He previously had to bring his pup in for surgery due to a swallowed bully stick, so it can add up quickly! You can take a look at this site to find the best pet insurance option for your family.
Taking care of your dog’s teeth is something that often gets neglected, but it’s essential to keep their chompers in tip-top shape. Like humans, they can develop tartar and plaque buildup and gingivitis.
Vets recommend regularly brushing your dog’s teeth with a dog toothbrush and toothpaste. It’s OK to use a human toothbrush but always use toothpaste specially formulated for pets. The best time to brush your dog’s teeth is when they’ve had a lot of exercise and are worn out; that way, they’re a little calmer. Start out slowly and see how your dog reacts. Our dog doesn’t mind getting his teeth cleaned, but he loves to lick the toothpaste off before it gets to his mouth!
When caring for your dog’s teeth, the earlier you start, the better. The younger your dog is, the more comfortable they’ll become with the process, and of course, it starts them on a healthy path early on.
Another easy way to take care of your pup’s teeth is by giving them a dental chew. We give our dog a Greenies dental chew every other day.
Each breed of dog requires a different amount of grooming. This could be bringing it to get a haircut at the pet store, some occasional brushing, or just giving some baths. Our dog tends to shed more in the summer, and we’ve found that using a de-shedding tool helps a ton. Unlike other brushes we’ve tried, he actually enjoys it!
When giving your dog a bath, you’ll want to get the water to a safe temp & use some pet-specific shampoo. You can use treats to make the experience better. Also, make sure to get all the soap out, or it can get itchy. Check out this article if your dog hates taking a bath.
You’ll want to keep your pup’s nails from getting too long. This is something you can do yourself, or you can have it done for you at any place that does grooming, such as a pet store.
You want to make sure your puppy is safe in extreme temps. In the cold, ensure they’re not out too long unless they’re a breed that can handle it. Roads are often salted against ice, so make sure to wipe their paws down after a walk. You can also use Musher’s Secret to protect their paws from the elements.
In the heat, you’ll also want to watch how long they’ve been out and how they’re panting. Get them cooled down as needed and make sure they’ve always got water available.