Puppy Care 103 - Health

Puppy in the grass

1. Keep your puppy's environment safe. An unsafe or dirty environment can be detrimental to the well being of your puppy and can cost you a lot of money in veterinary bills.

Air out your puppy's bedding daily, and wash or replace it weekly. House-train your puppy when appropriate, and immediately replace your puppy's bedding if he or she has had an accident in it.

Get rid of harmful plants. There are a number of household plants that are actually toxic to puppies who like to chew. Keep lily of the valley, oleander, azalea, yew, foxglove, rhododendron, rhubarb, and shamrock far away from your puppy.

2. Make sure your puppy gets plenty of exercise. Different breeds require different amounts of exercise -- this is another factor you should consider when choosing a puppy. As puppies' bodies are still developing, try to avoid any sort of rough play or strenuous exercise such as long (over 2 mile) runs. Take the puppy into the yard or garden after meals, and begin taking your puppy for short walks about a week after his second round of vaccinations.

Try to give your puppy about an hour of walk time a day, broken into 2 to 4 walks. Allow them to interact with other friendly dogs they meet (assuming your puppy has had its shots) and to leave scent markings. This is important for your dogs confidence, especially if he is a boy.

Socialize your puppy. Once vaccinated, puppies should be encouraged to play with friendly puppies, grown dogs, and other animals. Make sure the other animal tolerates the puppy well, and do not leave the animals alone for even a minute at first.

3. Schedule a visit to the vet. Choose a vet. Like with physicians, it's a good idea to ask your friends for vet recommendations. Get a few choices and visit each clinic. Find one that is friendly, well managed, and smells clean. Ask questions to the vet and the staff—they should always answer to the best of their ability. Be sure you feel comfortable with whichever vet you choose.

When your puppy is 6 to 9 weeks old, you'll want to take it to the vet to get vaccinated. Make sure you talk to your vet about canine distemper, parainfluenza, canine hepatitis, and parvovirus. They may have suggestions for other important vaccines as well, depending on the risks of your particular dog.

Make sure to get deworming medication during your first vet visit. This is not only a good idea for your puppy's health, but also for your own: many of the parasites that infect your puppy can be passed to humans and cause health problems in your family.

In addition to your first visit, you'll want to go to the vet when your puppy is 12 to 16 weeks old to get a rabies vaccination.

Begin thinking about whether you want to spay or neuter your dog. This is usually done when your dog is around 20 weeks old. Unless you foresee wanting to have puppies, it's a good idea to spay and neuter; thousands of unwanted puppies end up in pounds each year.

English: Basic Border Collie puppy. The photo ...
Basic Border Collie puppy. The photo describes in detail the features of a puppy being the shape of the puppy's face, the discoloration of the eyes, paw size, etc. showing that the puppy is very much premature.
Schedule a vet check-up for your puppy at least every six months. Also, schedule vet appointments for the proper vaccinations. Teach your puppy that going to the vet is an enjoyable or at least tolerable experience by bringing treats with you while you are there.

4. Watch for health problems.Keep an eye on your puppy and you can catch any problems early. The eyes should be bright, and the eyes and nostrils should be free of discharge. The puppy's coat should be clean and shiny; watch out for matting or thinning. Watch out for bumps, inflammation, or rashes on the skin, as well as signs of diarrhea around the tail.

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