Posted 27th Mar 2018 by Peter Byrne
Expert vet Steve Leonard has partnered with Forthglade to offer a few tips to ensure you keep your puppy safe and happy
1 Register with a vet ASAP
The relationship you have with your vet is crucial - even if your pup has had its primary vaccines, you should still bring it to the vet in the first few days to be weighed and have a health check. Any problems you find now could save you heartache later.
A good practice helps you to timetable the preventative healthcare your pet will need, including worming, flea and tick prevention and vaccines. Vaccinations will take time, so get advice on when you can start to explore the wider world with your pup.
Your vet will check your puppy's microchip, which should have already been implanted. Find a vet where you and your dog will feel welcome and relaxed to make all the difference. When a puppy enjoys coming to the vet it reduces everybody's stress, including your own.
2 Get pet insurance
No-one can predict exactly when the worst will happen. Speak to other dog owners about their experiences with pet insurance, as there will be both good and bad policies out there.
3 Regular worming
All puppies will have some worms, as they will be passed from mum to pup, even while the pup is still inside mum. These roundworms will be very active for the first six months of life, so regular worming is essential. Some areas of the country will have more dangerous parasites, such as lungworm, so discuss prevention with your vet.
4 Fleas, ticks and mites
There will be many external parasites that your pup could pick up too, some of which will be more bothersome than others. Flea infestations cause severe anaemia in puppies, and this shouldn't be ignored. While ticks can transmit nasty diseases, like poor bone growth or obesity. Dogs like 'working' for their food, as it will satisfy their foraging instincts - there are lots of simple 'puzzle feeders' that can be bought which will slow your dog's eating down, helping to make meal time more fun.
5 A balanced diet
A nourishing, natural diet that is right for the growth and size of your dog will be important. Avoid feeding them too many treats (in particular human food), as this unbalances your pup's diet, resulting in serious health problems, such as poor bone growth or obesity.
6 Toxic foods and plants
Your house and garden will need puppy proofing. Be sure to keep anything unsafe out of harm's way. Dogs will have great noses for sniffing out food, so be sure that any food you don't want your pup to eat are out of reach. Some human foods and common garden plants can be toxic to dogs too, so watch out for these especially:
- Grapes and raisins
- Onions and garlic
- Mouldy food, found in the bin or compost
- Corn on the cob (this can block a dog's intestines)
- Sweets containing Xylitol
- Cooked bones (which are attractive to dogs but brittle and with sharp fragments which can lodge in a dog's guts)
- Human medication - a dog would happily eat packets of painkillers and other pills, so lock these away.
Remember, if your dog eats anything unusual, a foreign object or something toxic, be sure to contact your vet straight away. If you're waiting for any symptoms, it could be too late to treat them successfully.
Symptoms to watch out for include:
- Your puppy becoming uncharacteristically quiet and lethargic
- Protracted vomiting (dogs will vomit far more readily than people, so if your puppy vomits once or twice but is then playful and happy, don't worry).
- Blood loss will be much more serious in smaller animals as they have less reserves. In emergencies, clean cloth can act as a bandage - apply it directly but with gentle pressure and contact your vet straight away.
- Burns are common in puppies which find themselves under people's feet when they are carrying hot cups of tea. Run the affected area under a cold tap for around 10 minutes while contacting your vet (fur could mask the severity of the burn so make sure you check for pain in the potentially scalded area).
- Any signs of visible pain or discomfort are always worth contacting the vet about. The simple rule is if you're in doubt, call your vet.
Tips courtesy of Forthglade and Steve Leonard - the tips were published to mark the launch of Forthglade's new 'Prepare for Puppy' campaign.