Getting a puppy is an exciting time in one’s life. I remember when I got my puppy several months ago, the wait to bring him home felt like forever. A new puppy will fill your life with cuteness and cuddles, but also a huge amount of responsibility. To ensure your puppy stays happy and healthy and that there are no unexpected adverse scenarios, there are a few important steps to take to ensure your puppy’s well-being and your own peace of mind. Let’s talk about some new puppy care tips to keep your puppy safe.
Although your puppy might seem well and healthy when you bring them home, unexpected things can happen. Your puppy might fall ill or eat something unwanted, which might require medical assistance. Vet bills can be very expensive and having your puppy insured via pet insurance can significantly reduce the cost of those vet bills.
There is a vast variety of pet insurances available. However, be aware that if your puppy had symptoms of an illness or carried internal parasites before you got them pet insurance, it will be considered a pre-existing condition and not covered by the insurance.
An ideal situation is where the breeder has already insured your puppy. This was the case with my puppy, which meant when I bought him, he was already covered and therefore protected from day one. The insurance was simply transferred from the breeder’s name to my name once ownership changed.
Do your research regarding pet insurances as you do not want to get unexpected surprises in terms of vet bills. Vet insurance policies will differ from country to country so I can’t give specific recommendations on which one to choose. It’s a good idea to talk to your breeder or vet about good pet insurance options.
Vaccinating your puppy
Getting your puppy fully vaccinated is critical to protect them from unwanted and deadly diseases. Puppies typically receive their first set of vaccines at 6 to 8 weeks of age, before you bring the puppy home. The first set of vaccines are so called core vaccinations recommended to all dogs and are similar in Australia, Europe and the USA. These protect against canine parvovirus, canine adenovirus and canine distemper virus (might differ slightly between countries). A booster vaccine for these diseases is generally given around 16 weeks of age.
Puppies should also get immunized against kennel cough causing viruses, including the parainfluenza virus and bordetella bronchiseptica. Vaccines against these viruses are, however, optional and known as non-core vaccines. These vaccines are generally given at 12 weeks of age. In Europe and the USA puppies are also vaccinated against rabies. Booster vaccines for all the above are generally given yearly.
It is important to not to take your puppy to public places before they have received their full set of vaccinations as there’s a risk of getting infected by unvaccinated dogs or wildlife droppings. It is, however, safe to expose your puppy to fully vaccinated dogs and other healthy puppies as long as you do this in a controlled environment, such as your, or your friend’s house. Allowing your puppy to meet other dogs at a young age is an extremely important part of socializing.
You will be advised by your vet on the appropriate time to leave your home. I strongly recommend getting your puppy vaccinated and keeping the vaccinations up to date to protect your puppy and other dogs around from diseases.
Microchipping allows for the electronic identification of your dog. A tiny microchip gets inserted under the skin at the back of your puppy’s neck between the shoulder blades. Although it may a hurt a little, the insertion procedure is quick and easy to do by your vet.
Each microchip contains a unique identification number that can be read with a microchip scanner. This identification number is stored in a database registry containing the pet’s and the owner’s details. Having your puppy microchipped is vital for identification if, for example, your puppy escapes and runs away.
Microchipping is not expensive, so it is definitely worth getting it done to ensure your puppy can be easily identified.
Worming, flea and tick control
Protecting your puppy against internal and external parasites, such as worms, fleas, and ticks is critical for their health and well-being. Dogs generally obtain internal parasites by ingesting parasite eggs from contaminated soil, water or feces. External parasites can be passed from the environment or other dogs.
Small puppies are more at risk in developing serious health issues from parasites compared to adult dogs. Your puppy should already be protected against parasites by your breeder who should advise you on the worming, flea and tick prevention schedule. Alternatively, when you buy your puppy, you can get them checked by a vet to make sure that they don’t carry any parasites and get advice regarding parasite prevention.
My puppy is on Nexgard Spectra, which is a combination treatment that protects against intestinal worms, heartworm, fleas and ticks. This treatment is very easy to give as it comes as a tasty chew and you give it to your dog once a month. You do, however, need to remember to be accurate with timing to ensure this treatment maintains its protective capacity. If you’re interested in giving Nexgard Spectra a go, you can get your Nexgard Spectra for your extra small (4 lbs), small (4-16 lbs), medium (16-33 lbs), large (33-66 lbs) or extra large (66-133 lbs) dog here.
Consistent protection against parasites is particularly important in a warm climate as parasites thrive in the warmth. As with vaccinations, consult your vet of the appropriate worm, flea and tick protection for your puppy.
Puppy proofing your home is an important step to ensure your puppy (and your home!) stays safe. Puppies eat anything and everything so make sure they don’t have access to any toxic chemicals, such as cleaning products, or any other things you don’t want them to eat, or could be harmful, such as shoes and clothes. Since young puppies are not yet toilet trained, remove any mats or rugs off the floor to minimize hazards.
It is also good to keep an eye on your puppy whilst in the garden, as puppies tend to eat anything they can fit in their mouths. Hazards I have found have been small rocks, bark, plants and animal droppings.
Play and cuddles
After you’ve looked after your puppy’s safety needs, you can happily enjoy plenty of play time and cuddles. After all, puppies grow up so quickly so it is important to make the most of the precious younger years together.
Wishing you many happy play times, barks & walks,