Adopting a new puppy is exciting and fun, but it's also a big responsibility. In addition to potty training, getting your puppy to sleep through the night, and helping your puppy adjust to life with your family, it's important to keep your new dog's overall health in mind. The healthy habits you start with your puppy now will make sure they get through their first year in great health and will lay the groundwork for many healthy years to come. Here are five ways to keep your new puppy healthy:
Stay on Top of Your Vaccination Schedule
Your puppy will need to get a series of vaccinations beginning at around six weeks old, spaced out by a few weeks for the first few months after you bring him home. These vaccinations will protect your puppy from deadly illnesses like parvovirus as well as rabies.
It's a good idea to bring your new puppy to a veterinarian within a few days of the adoption in order to have their overall health checked out and so that your vet can begin scheduling their puppy vaccinations. Your puppy may be a bit sleepy after they receive their shots, but since the vaccinations are spaced out the effects are typically mild.
Choose High Quality Puppy Food
The quality of food you feed your puppy has a huge impact on everything from their energy levels, long-term health, and the shininess of their coat. Check online ratings for dog food quality before you buy their food and look for food that contains natural ingredients, healthy proteins, and limited preservatives, artificial coloring, and chemicals. Talk to your vet about how much to feed your puppy as this varies based on your puppy's breed and size, as well as the food you choose.
Start Obedience Training Early
While not strictly a health-related task, obedience training will make the other items on this list easier and also keep your new puppy safe by teaching them to listen and come to you on command. Most dog trainers have a minimum age requirement for puppy obedience classes and you will most likely need to wait until your puppy has had at least one round of vaccinations.
Be sure to read reviews from other clients and look for a dog trainer who uses positive reinforcement and gentle methods, rather than yelling or shock collars, as these harsh training methods are never appropriate for a young and impressionable puppy.
Brush Your Puppy's Teeth
Getting into the habit of brushing your puppy's teeth now while they are young is much easier than attempting to brush their teeth when they are older and not used to you handling their mouth. Look for dog toothpaste (which usually comes in flavors that appeal to puppies, like peanut butter or chicken) and a small dog toothbrush that fits over your finger. A quick daily brushing is optimal for keeping their teeth clean and healthy and preventing future issues.
Talk to Your Vet About Spaying or Neutering
Spaying or neutering your puppy in their first year is recommended by most experts as it not only helps you avoid contributing to pet overpopulation and having to deal with an unwanted litter of puppies, but it is also better for your puppy's overall health. Talk to your vet about spaying or neutering as early as possible (perhaps at their first check-up or vaccination appointment) and agree to a timeline for having this minor surgery performed.
Being proactive about your puppy's health and taking a preventative approach will ensure your puppy is happy, healthy, and avoids potential health issues and problems.