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Caring for your Puppy

This article has been produced as a guide only.
For expert help and advice always consult your vet.

Caring for your new puppy can be a lot of work, but it is also very rewarding. Below are a few tips to help you.

Feeding
Most people will have received their puppy after they are weaned. But if you actually need to wean your puppy, starting at about 2-3 weeks of age your puppy should start to eat solid food. Offer the puppies solid food at least three times a day. You can start by offering dry puppy food mixed with some warm water to soften it.

When the puppy reaches about 12 weeks of age, slowly start feeding dry puppy food only twice a day. Only offer the food for about 15 minutes and then take the dish away, to train the dog for eating twice a day. Between 6-9 months of age start mixing puppy food with an adult dog food over the course of a month.

The dry food should be specially formulated for puppies. If you have a large breed puppy feed a large breed formula. But be careful not to over feed large breed dogs. If you do they are more prone to joint and bone problems. Also stay away from a lot of extra treats, and be careful not to over feed your puppy over 6 months of age to prevent obesity.

Vaccines
First you should consult your vet about vaccinations.

Vaccinating your puppy is the basis of good puppy care. Vaccines help reduce the risk of you puppy acquiring diseases like parvovirus, distemper, kennel cough, and rabies. Vaccines are given when puppies reach 6-8 weeks of age and are given every 2-4 weeks until the puppy reaches 16-20 weeks of age. Boosters are then needed every one to three years. There are many different vaccine schedules your veterinarian might use. For example you puppy might receive shots at the following ages: 6, 9, 12, and 15 weeks of age.

Puppies are usually vaccinated against: Distemper, Adenovirus (hepatitis), Parvovirus, and Parainfluenza. All of these vaccines are usually combined in one vaccine typically referred to as “the distemper shot.” Also depending on where you live, you may also need vaccines against Coronavirus, Giardia, Lyme disease, Leptospirosis, and Bordetella.

Also Rabies is needed as well. Usually at sixteen weeks of age, and then boostered a year later, and then boostered one to three years later depending on the local laws and regulations. Rabies vaccine is the only vaccine that you must absolutely get for your dog. Only a vet is licensed to administer rabies vaccine.

Parasites

Heartworm prevention - Most puppies should be started on a heartworm preventative at least by two months of age. And now in most areas of the United States, it is recommended that heartworm preventative be given all year long, although the risk of getting heartworms is still greatest in the summer months. Heartworm preventative is usually given monthly in the form of a chewable tablet. The most popular brands are Heartgard and Interceptor. It is important the you give this tablet every month and if you miss a month, inform your vet.

Intestinal Parasites (Worms) - It is important that you get your puppy dewormed. Roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, coccidian, and giardia are the most common parasites that can affect your puppy. It is recommended that you have a fecal done on your pet, and then yearly after that.

Deworming medication is commonly placed in heartworm medication these days, these include Heartgard plus and Interceptor. Intestinal parasites can cause diarrhea, weight loss, and death. Tapeworms often found around the anus of your puppy. They look like grains of white rice. These are the egg filled segments of the tapeworm.

Fleas and Ticks - Most flea products these days are also effective against ticks as well as fleas. The most popular of these is Frontline. It is a medication that is applied once a month to help prevent fleas and ticks. It is a liquid product applied topically to the skin between the shoulder blades.

Grooming - Grooming is also a part of good puppy care. All pets need some degree of grooming. It is an important part of taking care of your new puppy. By starting to brush and bath your puppy while they are young, they will grow accustomed to the contact as they grow up.

Exercise and Training - It is important for you to provide plenty of space for your puppy to run and exercise. Also, now is the right time to begin training your puppy to help avoid unwanted behaviors.

Also be sure to avoid taking your puppy to dog parks until after they have had their full series of vaccines.

If you take the time to learn about proper puppy care, you soon will have a healthy happy dog. Take the time to ask lots of question when you visit your vet. They are the best source for puppy care and health information.

Don't forget if in any doubt always consult a vet.

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