There is no denying the fact that puppies are the most adorable beings on the planet…well maybe until they chew on your favorite pair of suede shoes. While they are extremely nice and lively to have around, taking care of a puppy is no walk in the park. In fact, just like babies, they need round-the-clock care. As a pet parent, you need to ensure that you introduce some lifestyle adjustments as well, in addition to cleaning up after your furball of energy and more importantly, keeping him alive! If you are a first-time puppy parent, here are a few tips you need to keep in mind, while caring for your new bundle of joy.
Find a good vet
It is critical to find a good vet, preferably in your own neighborhood, so that your vet is familiar with your dog from his early days. It is advisable to make a visit to the vet right after you bring your puppy home, for a general check-up and your pet’s first round of shots. Maintain a log with dates in order to keep track of when your pet’s shots are due. You could also consult your vet on basic care tips – like how often to feed the pup, what kind of food will work best at what age, some brands of dog food that come doctor-recommended, tick medication etc. You could also take your vet’s advice on when you should spay or neuter your pet as well.
Quality food makes all the difference
Puppies grow at what may seem like alarming rates, and maybe it seems like they want to eat all the time. However, it is critical that you establish a feeding pattern right at the beginning and keep modifying it according to the growth of your pup. Small and medium breeds of dogs can move on from puppy food to adult dog food at 9 or 12 months. Large breeds however, should ideally be fed puppy kibble until they are about 2 years old. Ensure that you feed puppies that are 6-12 weeks old about 4 meals a day, those that are 3-6 months old about 3 meals a day and those between 6-12 months, just two meals a day. Don’t overfeed or underfeed your dog. To be sure how often to feed your puppy, ask your vet.
It is important to establish a bathroom routine for your pet during the initial stages. While this can be a daunting task, since puppies tend to pretty much mark their spot anywhere in the house, it is critical that you remain patient. It’s a good idea to put away the expensive throw-rug you splurged on for the living room, at least for now. Make sure you establish a routine for taking your dog out. The routine needs to be something you can commit to everyday – ideally when you wake up in the morning, right before bed at night, after every meal (puppy’s, not yours), when your pup wakes up from a nap, and after an intense work out.
Watch out for illnesses
Early detection of illnesses can go a long way in preventing a major outbreak later. Lethargy, poor weight gain, diarrhea, vomiting, wheezing, irregular sleeping patterns, swellings, eye/ear discharge etc. – these are some of the symptoms to watch out for. If your pet exhibits any of these symptoms it may be time to consult a vet.
It is of prime importance that you not only teach your puppy tricks, but good manners as well. Basic obedience towards commands like sit, stay, down and come, will keep your dog in control even in potentially tough situations. You could hire a trainer, or enroll in obedience classes, to teach your dog the basics, but remember it’s easiest to train your puppy when they are young. Once your pup is trained you can introduce him through play dates to other puppies as well.
With these basics in place, you’ll be ready for a healthy and happy life together with your new best friend.