Having dogs in our lives is infinitely rewarding. Companionship, improved health, improved happiness, and improved security are just some of the benefits that dogowners enjoy. However, owning a canine companion also comes with its fair share of responsibilities that you must be ready for.
One of your responsibilities is to ensure that your dog gets quality, regular veterinary care to keep him in good health. Because of this, it’s important that you know the different health-related concerns that will come up during your puppy’s first year, so that you’re better prepared to take care of him. Here are some important concerns that every first-time dog owner needs to know:
Diet And Weight
As we’ve mentioned earlier, puppies between the age of 0 and 8 weeks should be exclusively breastfed with their mothers. This is because the mother’s milk contains all the essential nutrients and antibodies that a puppy needs to grow strong and healthy. Where this is not possible, milk replacers and bottles can be used to feed the puppy.
From the age of eight weeks and above, you should gradually introduce your puppy to a high-quality puppy food. Be sure to follow your vet’s guidelines with regards to how much you should feed him. Experts recommend that you feed your young dog 3 to 4 times daily till he reaches at least 6 months of age. Thereafter, you can reduce the feeding to two times daily if you desire. If he’s is already overweight, talk to your vet about it. He or she can help you come up with a suitable diet and exercise plan to keep him at a healthy weight.
Newborn puppies are not born with natural immunity. This is why it’s recommended that they feed on their mothers’ milk so as to get antibodies that protects them from getting diseases as their immunity develops. Vaccinations are also vital, especially during your puppy’s first year to help boost his immune system. Your vet will tell you about all the recommended vaccines that your pet requires and the time they should take place. It’s your responsibility to ensure that you take your puppy to the vet’s office to get his vaccinations at the scheduled time.
Most puppies contract intestinal parasites like hookworms, tapeworms and roundworms from their mothers prior to their birth. When left untreated, these parasites cause weight loss and anemia, which can be fatal to your puppy. Your vet will carry out fecal exams and deworm your puppy regularly to get rid of these intestinal parasites.
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Just like intestinal parasites, external parasites such as ticks and fleas are harmful to your dog’s health when left untreated. Talk to your vet about how to control these parasites. Usually, he/she will give you a topical product that you can safely apply to your young dog’s skin to keep these parasites at bay. Other things you can do to control ectoparasites include keeping your puppy away from woody areas and bushes, washing your dog’s bedding regularly, vacuuming your carpet regularly to kill any eggs and larvae hidden in it, as well as keeping your lawn short at all times.
The first teeth that your puppy develops are called deciduous teeth. Expect them to erupt between the ages of 3 and 8 weeks. Deciduous teeth are replaced by permanent teeth at the age of 4 to 6 months. You’ll definitely know when your dog starts teething by his increased chewing.
It’s very important that you don’t leave him unsupervised during this period. This is obviously because of the destruction he’s likely to cause in your home by chewing anything he comes across. Besides this, he may end up ingesting objects that may be poisonous or may cause obstruction.
Therefore if possible, ask your vet to monitor your puppy during teething, and consider buying different toys designed for teething to help your beloved pet get through this stage more comfortably without causing a lot of destruction.
If you’re not planning to breed your dog, then you should talk to your vet about spaying or neutering him. This can be done when your puppy is as young as 8 weeks old. However, some vets prefer to perform this procedure when dogs are much older i.e. between the ages of 4 and 6 months.
I hope you’ve learnt a thing or two from this article. Make sure you have a good vet to work with in taking care of your puppy’s health. Also, consider getting health insurance for your pet to help ease his veterinary care costs.