New Puppy FAQ

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What chew toys do you recommend? 
KONG and Nylabone are good quality bones for chewing and will not hurt your puppy’s teeth. We do not recommend rawhide, antlers, hooves, and marrow bones as these are too hard and can fracture teeth in puppies and adult dogs. 

How do I get my puppy to stop chewing on my hand?
Redirect your puppy to a toy to chase or chew.

How do I socialize my puppy?
Touching your puppy’s paws, ears, and mouth in a calm, gentle manner is a great idea to get him or her used to being examined and handled. This will decrease your puppy’s stress level during nail trims, ear cleanings, vet visits, and grooming appointments. It is difficult right now to expose your puppy to friends, neighbors, and extended family members because of social distancing, but it’s important to do what you can to make new people a positive experience for your puppy so s/he learns to like and trust them.

Socializing with other dogs who are healthy and up to date on vaccinations is encouraged if possible, and your puppy can play with other puppies who are healthy and up to date with their vaccinations based on age. Avoid dog parks until your puppy is fully vaccinated.

Why do you recommend a probiotic supplement for puppies?
Growing research has shown how important a healthy and varied population of “good” gut bacteria can be for an animal’s overall health, so we recommend starting a supplement called Lactoquil when your puppy is ready. It can be broken into pieces to help with chewing, and it tastes like a treat to your pet. Lactoquil has nine strains of bacteria with 1.5 total colony-forming units. Both numbers help with gut health and bolster a puppy’s developing immune system. 

How often does my puppy need vaccines?
We vaccinate every 3-4 weeks until 16-18 weeks of age. Learn more about vaccinations.

Why does my puppy need a fecal exam?
Puppies are born with certain parasites like roundworms and hookworms (they can cross the placenta and be passed through lactation/nursing as well), so they need to be dewormed to kill these parasites. A dewormer needs to be administered until 8 weeks of age if your puppy was already receiving treatment from a breeder. If your puppy is older than 8 weeks and has not yet been given a deworming treatment, he or she will need at least two doses. The fecal exam also lets us know if there are parasites like coccidia or giardia that need to be eliminated.

Why does my dog need heartworm prevention and when do I start it?
Heartworm preventive is a monthly chewable medication that is given year-round to prevent heartworm infection. It can be started as early as 6 weeks, so we will give you a free dose with the first puppy exam. Heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitoes, and it is very prevalent in our area of the country. If a dog is not taking heartworm preventive, s/he can be infected with heartworm larvae when a mosquito carrying the larvae bites the puppy and subsequently grows over several months into an adult worm. Heartworm disease is a serious disease that can be fatal if not treated early in the course, and it is much better for overall health to prevent the disease rather than treat it when it develops. It is also an expensive and lengthy treatment.

We recommend monthly flea and tick prevention in combination with heartworm prevention as fleas and ticks carry preventable disease as well, some of which can even make the people in your household sick, too. 

What are your housetraining tips?
We recommend using a crate so that when you cannot directly supervise your puppy, the likelihood of an accident is greatly diminished. Go outside as often as you can, and give your puppy praise or a treat when s/he urinates. Any time your puppy wakes up from a nap, you should go outside also.

Do not stay outside longer than five minutes when giving your puppy time to urinate and defecate. Your puppy does not know yet that s/he is outside to pee and poop and that going inside the house is wrong. If you think your puppy should have urinated or defecated and did not after five minutes, come back inside and put them in the crate with a toy. Take him or her outside again in 15 minutes and give praise or a treat when s/he urinates.

Pro tip – if you are going to use a treat, it has to be given outside right as the behavior (urinating or defecating) that you want to reward is happening. Do not give a treat when you’re back inside the house, as this can lead to puppies to not skipping the eliminating all together and just wanting to come back inside to get the treat they are expecting. 

Is it normal that my puppy urinates every hour or more?
Yes, puppies will need to urinate a lot. As the puppy grows, their bladder will be able to hold larger volumes of urine, and they will be able to hold their urine longer in the overnight hours. 

How do I transition to a new food?
Slowly mix the current diet with the new diet over a few weeks. Start with just 10% new diet (and 90% current diet) and monitor stools for softness over the next 2-3 days. If no soft stool is seen, then gradually increase the new diet percentage (25%, 33%, 50%, 75%, 100%) every few days. If the stool becomes soft, then decrease the new food percentage and stay at the level for a longer period of time. If you have any questions, please call us. 

When should I spay or neuter my puppy?
We usually recommend that these surgeries take place at six months of age. Males can be neutered at any age, and it is fine to wait until a year of age for large breed dog. For females, we are concerned with how many heat cycles they have before they are spayed. The incidence of mammary tumors is much higher in dogs who have had two or more heat cycles before being spayed. The incidence of mammary tumors is higher with one heat cycle versus none prior to surgery, but the increased risk is small. Larger breed dogs should not be spayed much beyond one year of age so that there is only one heat cycle before the spay is performed.