Happy Puppy

Puppy Care

Puppy Care at EDGE

Welcoming a new puppy into your family can be one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences, but starting your puppy off on the right paw with proper care can ensure that your new furry family member will thrive throughout their lifetime with you!

While good puppy care includes lots of love from their new family, it is important to have your new puppy examined by a veterinarian in the first few days of adopting. This examination is important to assess your puppy’s health and check for any apparent health concerns. Your veterinarian will also discuss appropriate acclimation to the home, people, or other pets, disease risks your puppy may face, proper nutrition and feeding recommendations, necessary vaccinations, spaying or neutering, etc.

For guidelines on being a responsible puppy owner, please visit: How to Raise a Fear Free Puppy

What to expect at your puppy’s first vet visit:

A complete physical examination assesses your pet’s appropriate body condition (not underweight or overweight), level of socialization (happy and approachable or timid and retreating), checking for anything that may be of concern – heart murmur, round distended belly, patchy hair loss or sores, parasites, orthopedic abnormalities, issues with eyes, ears, mouth, genitalia, or lymph nodes.

Common health problems in puppies:

  • Diarrhea often due to intestinal parasites or abrupt diet changes
  • Skin, eye or ear issues
  • Kennel cough
  • Ingestion of inappropriate or toxic substances

Vaccines given at recommended ages can help prevent some more serious health problems like parvovirus and distemper virus.

Puppy Nutrition

Proper nutrition is a huge component of your new puppy’s development, which is why it’s important that you choose a puppy food that has been specifically formulated for young and growing dogs. After all, your puppy’s body is growing in ways that will directly impact his or her quality of life for many years to come. Always look for a statement from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) that ensures the puppy food you choose meets or exceeds nutritional requirements for growing canine bodies.

Also, be sure your puppy has fresh and abundant water early in the day to help break down the puppy food, as well as to keep them hydrated. 

Having a regular feeding and walking schedule will be a tremendous help with potty training. Puppies will begin to learn, understand and enjoy a scheduled routine.

Puppy Vaccinations and Preventative Care

Puppy vaccinations should take place every 2-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age during the first several months of life and continue with booster immunizations throughout adulthood. There are core and non-core puppy vaccinations for your puppy and your veterinarian can help you decide which puppy vaccinations are right for your canine companion.

It is important to stay current with your puppy vaccinations. Puppy vaccinations have been medically proven to combat so many preventable diseases and illnesses that will occur without proper immunizations. Puppy vaccinations are a huge part of responsible puppy care, and your puppy deserves no less than every chance to be healthy and happy for life.

*Some puppies may need additional vaccinations against parvovirus after 15 weeks of age.

Spaying or Neutering Your Puppy

We generally recommend spaying and neutering generally at 6 months of age, before their first heat cycle. However, with some breeds, there is information that waiting even longer may be the most optimal to avoid certain cancers. Our veterinarians will review this information with your and discuss which breeds may want to consider an alternate plan.

The American Veterinary Medical Association supports spaying and neutering before maturity. Delaying this procedure past sexual maturity can lead to increased incidences of mammary tumors in females, and testicular cancer in males.

In general, puppies recover a lot faster than adult dogs. Therefore, it is an easier surgery for them and one that reduces the rate of disease later on. We absolutely love puppies and dogs of all kinds, but also believe that there are currently too many who end up in shelter situations and euthanized because of failures to control the pet population. For more information on spay or neuter services for your puppy, please visit our spay or neuter page.

Signs and symptoms of illness in puppies:

  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Poor skin and coat condition
  • Coughing
  • Abnormal colored eye discharge
  • Irregular urination
  • Inappetence

Signs of a healthy, thriving puppy:

  • Playful
  • Formed stool
  • Healthy skin and coat condition
  • Appetite
  • Appropriate weight gain and growth
  • Positive interactions with people and other housemates.

Puppy Q & A

What should I consider before adopting or buying a puppy?

Consider your goals with having a puppy/dog. What your lifestyle is like. Are you active and looking for a dog to go on runs and hiking with? Do you want a small dog to carry around and dress up? Do you work from home or long hours away from home? Are you ready to commit to potty training, obedience training, regular veterinary visits for exams and vaccinations? Are you prepared for the financial investment of having a puppy from food, toys, beds, and crate to investing in veterinary care, training classes and/or daycare? Are there children or other pets in the home?

Are you interested in adopting from a shelter, rescue or breeder? If interested in a specific breed, do your research! Dogs are adorable and fun – but many breeds have common traits and/or health concerns to be aware of before committing. Research the breed AND find a reputable breeder or adopt from a rescue/shelter. 

What should I look for in a puppy?

All puppies are cute, so looks alone can make it difficult to decide on a single puppy. A puppy that is interactive with other puppies and people is more likely to be a well socialized dog.  A healthy coat, clear eyes, nose, and ears can be signs of a healthy pup.  A puppy with proof of veterinary evaluation, vaccination, and deworming supports a healthy pup and the breeder’s commitment to raising a healthy pup.

Check out this link for more information: https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/petcare/selecting-pet-dog

When should I start training my puppy?

Right away! Puppies are little sponges eager to absorb knowledge. Potty training and becoming comfortable in a crate are skills to start immediately at home. Positive reinforcement with appropriate timing and consistency can make training easier. Formal training classes should start as soon as your puppy is adequately vaccinated.

For guidelines on raising a well socialized puppy, check out this link: https://fearfreehappyhomes.com/raise-fear-free-puppy/

How can I puppy-proof my house?

Familiarize yourself with the ASPCA’s list of toxic substances and have contact information for Poison Control. Put food items away and out of reach and put away children’s toys. Hide or prevent access to expensive, fragile, dangerous or toxic items.

Here is a great checklist for puppy proofing your home: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/puppy-information/puppy-proofing-tips-for-your-home-and-yard/

Here is a link on crate-training strategies: https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/crate-training-101

Puppy Care In St. Petersburg, FL

Contact EDGE Animal Hospital to make an appointment online or call us at (727)470-6949 For more information about puppy care.