Puppy Health & Hygeine
When you get a new puppy, you need to know about minor and major ailments, and when to consult with a vet. This story gives you some advice.
Choosing a vet
All registered vets are professional specialists. You may be drawn to one in particular because of the convenient location of the vet's clinic, the services he or she provides or simply because you find your vet especially easy to talk to. The only sure thing is that choosing a vet is part of your obligation to your dog. Ask your breeder or friends to recommend a vet.
When should you consult with a vet?
It's a good idea to get your vet to give your new puppy a check up as soon as you get him. You can discuss vaccinations, worming and general puppy care. Seek advice from your vet if your puppy refuses food for more than a day, if he has diarrhea or vomiting, or if he is inexplicably lethargic.
If you don't intend to breed from your dog, then you should seriously consider neutering. Spaying and neutering are both relatively straightforward operations that cause minimal discomfort to your pet. Your vet can advise you as to when it is best to have the operation done. If you decide not to get the operation for your dog, you should be prepared for some unexpected changes.
Unneutered dogs, for example, will often roam after bitches in heat and will become aggressive. If you do not wish your bitch to become pregnant, you must carefully supervise her when she is in heat. They are also prone to phantom pregnancy, which could require veterinary treatment.
Many puppies are born with roundworms. To ensure that your puppy thrives, it is important to "banish" these worms. There are many safe, effective products available for this purpose, and your vet will be able to prescribe a suitable treatment. A professional breeder will always give puppies worm treatments from the age of three weeks, repeating this. Check with the breeder and talk to your vet about your puppy's worming program.
Many adult dogs also carry roundworms. To ensure that your dog stays worm-free, you should continue to worm him every six months for the rest of his life.
If you notice the presence of fleas in your dog's coat, you should visit your vet, who can recommend an effective defleaing agent. If you choose to buy flea powders or sprays in a store, check that these are suitable for use on puppies. If your dog has fleas, it is essential to treat his environment as well. Wash all the dog's bedding. Wash the basket and clean the boxes, corners, rugs and furniture. Use dusting flea powders or aerosols. If you are in any doubt about a particular flea product, ask your vet for advice.
Eyes and ears
Your dog's eyes and ears should always be clean. The eye area can be gently cleaned with moist cotton swabs. The ears can be wiped with dry cotton wool. This must be done carefully, without poking anything inside.
Your dog's claws should be checked. If you walk your dog on hard surfaces (such as asphalt), remember that the claws wear down, and in this case, you don't need to do anything. But if your dog is walked mostly on grass, his claws will need trimming.
Your breeder or vet can show you how to do this properly.
Teeth and gums
Puppies enjoy chewing on everyday household objects. Discourage your dog from doing that and don't let them do provide him with a specially designed toy. Although puppies will generally not have problems with their teeth or gums, plaque can quickly build up at the base of the teeth and cause gum disease in dogs as young as 12 months. To reduce the risk of this happening, regularly check your pet's teeth. Special dog biscuits or chews are very beneficial and help clean the plaque off your dog’s teeth. You can also introduce tooth brushing at this age.
Bathing and grooming
As a general rule dogs should be bathed infrequently, only when necessary: when they have fleas or when the dog is dirty and a simple brushing is not enough to get the dirt out.
Much depends on the dog's breed. Smooth-coated dogs require minimal grooming, while dogs with longer coats should be groomed every day. A responsible dog owner should have a good grooming brush and comb, preferably one that has been specially developed for dogs.