Here are some amazing facts and figures about your puppy.
The first is that psychologists believe that humans can’t resist a dog, because they bring out our nurturing instincts. So there’s no point in fighting it and enjoy your new companion.
As well as the odd bark or yelp, your puppy has a number of ways of letting you know how he’s feeling. A wagging tail is a sure sign that things are going well, the faster it moves the more excited he is. Also keep an eye out for the ears. Erect ears mean he’s up for action, while ears that are flat or held back can be a sign of fear or submission.
Dogs are often aware of sounds that owners just can’t hear. It is generally accepted that a dog’s hearing is up to four times more acute than a humans – able to pick up frequencies that are way beyond our range. Their eye sight on the other hand is less sophisticated, seeing the world in shades of black and white.
A wet nose is one of the key signs of good health, helping a dog pick up scent molecules more easily.
Small dogs mature much more quickly than large dogs.
The average lifespan of a healthy pet is around 13 years. Poodles are one of the hardiest breeds around, living for as long as 17 years.
Don’t wait until something goes wrong to introduce your new puppy to the vet. Make an appointment in advance so you can take him to your local surgery for a preventative health check. The staff will be delighted to meet him and pass on important information about worming, teething and other equally vital tips.
The best way to choose a vet is by recommendation. Ask around, other dog owners in the area are sure to have a point of view. A good practice should be able to do more than look after your puppy’s health. It is often a point of contact for training schools and will hold puppy parties where your new pet gets the chance to meet other dogs.
What’s on offer depends in part on the size of practice. All will be able to cope with routine treatments including operations. However, more complex procedures and intensive care wards are sometimes only available in larger practices and specialist referral centres.
Check in with the surgeries on your short list to see which you feel happiest with. While most split their days between consultations and surgery hours, these vary. Emergency out-of-hour care is vital, so make sure you know how this works.
During your first visit, the vet will give your puppy a thorough physical examination, checking for a number of things including worm infestation. A vaccination schedule in line with that already set up by the breeder should also be provided.
Regular preventative check-ups will pick up potential problems early. The vet will look at your puppy’s eyes, ears and mouth. Check his tummy, as well as listening to the heart and lungs. They will also be vigilant for lumps and bumps on the body, together with a good look at the pads and nails. Nails may well need a trim. A look at the bottom area should reveal a clean dry area free from lumps. Your puppy’s coat will also be inspected to make sure the skin is free from flakes, odour or any other abnormalities. A common problem is flea infestation, if there are any signs of flea dirt, the vet will treat this immediately.
Your first visit can be a tense affair; both you and your puppy will be unfamiliar with the routine. So, it’s a good idea to hold him on your lap and under control. The consultation will generally start with some questions from the vet. This will help them understand the patient and owner better. It’s also your opportunity to bring up any concerns you might have.
It’s important that you prepare the house well in advance of the arrival of your puppy.
Getting a good night’s sleep will be vital to both of you as you settle down to living together. Therefore it makes sense to set aside sleeping space in the house, somewhere where your puppy can relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of family life.
There’s a wide variety of beds available, so it’s down to personal preference. Owners of small dogs may be attracted to igloo-style beds that provide maximum privacy. However, be careful with your money, it may make sense to buy a cheaper bed to start with and then move on to something more substantial for your dog’s adult years. Whatever you decide on, make sure that your dog can stretch out fully when asleep.
Specialist dog bedding is recommended as a base for hard plastic baskets
….but old towels and blankets will do just as well. Beds should be placed in a warm draught proof part of the house. One tip that many breeders give, is to take a piece of cloth with you when you go and collect your puppy from his mother. Rub the cloth over the mother to pick up her scent and then place it into your puppy’s bed when you get back home. He will be comforted by her presence.
Feeding bowls come in all shapes and sizes, from very basic plastic ones to novelty ceramic artworks. Whatever you choose, make sure there are separate dishes for food and water. The water bowl should always be available and don’t forget to place it out of the way so it isn’t continually being tripped over by the rest of the household!
Specialist diets are generally more expensive than ‘standard’ dog foods.
Those designed to keep down your pet’s weight can mostly be avoided by being careful with their diet in the first place and maintaining a strict exercise routine. Therapeutic diets are normally sold via vet practices, but are increasingly available on line. They are formulated to help with specific health problems such as diabetes and renal failure.
Cow’s milk should be avoided all together as this can cause stomach upsets. More importantly, fresh water must always be available to avoid dehydration.
Supplements are subject to much debate. Manufacturers of many prepared foods would argue that their scientifically balanced formulations do not require additional supplements. It is probably safest to assume that if your dog is enjoying a healthy diet there is no need for anything else. If in doubt, check with your vet.
Bath time can be fun as long as you are prepared to get wet alongside your pet. Keeping your puppy clean with regular brushing and the occasional wash is an important part of the bonding process, as well as a necessary hygiene measure.
Don’t leave it too long, the sooner it starts the more readily he will accept it.
Puppies that have been raised by an attentive mother enjoy being stroked and massaged. As well as being a pleasant way to spend some time, it gives you the chance to feel for any lumps and bumps, as well looking for sores that might lurk beneath his coat.
The frequency and thoroughness of the process depends in large part by the length and type of coat you are dealing with. Some require more care than others, but whatever length and thickness of coat, a quick daily brush is a useful habit to get into. While there are owners who are happy to trim stray hairs and even attempt cutting, professional groomers are on hand for more tricky tasks. Costs vary, so shop around.
A combined bristle and pin brush will deal with most short-haired varieties. While a wire slicker brush is best suited to removing dead hairs from dense short coats. Mitts are handy for an all over rub, while a good comb should untangle most long coats, avoiding unnecessary haircuts. The occasional use of a specialist flea comb will pick out any unwanted insects.
Nail clipping is probably best left to the experts. Your local vet practice or groomer will have the right equipment to make sure the job is done in complete safety.
A good bath is unavoidable if your dog becomes particularly dirty, or has a condition such as flea infestation or flaky skin. Wherever you chose to bath him, remember that once wet, your dog will naturally shake vigorously to remove excess water. You can always try to beat him to it by having a towel handy, but chances are that you and anyone else in the room are likely to get wet too.
With puppies in particular, make sure the water is tepid and support his body with one hand so he feels safe throughout.
Use a specialist dog shampoo designed to clean the hair and skin while leaving natural oils intact. Apart for exceptional circumstances, bathing with soaps should be restricted to a couple of times a year. More frequent than that and you could be stripping away his natural waterproof and leaving unduly dry skin behind. When washing, avoid eyes, ears and mouth and make sure you rinse thoroughly, removing all traces of shampoo or soap. If using a hair dryer to finish off, check the setting is cool.
When you bring a new puppy home, there’s nothing you want to do more than shower her with affection. But the little ball of energy is more vulnerable to illness than vaccinated dogs with mature immune systems. As a new dog owner or a pet sitter, you may not yet know the signs that you have a sick puppy on your hands. However, there are about seven common puppy illnesses to look out for, including: intestinal parasites, Parvovirus, Coccidia, Canine Distemper, Heartworm Disease, Kennel Cough and Hypoglycemia.
Many puppies get intestinal parasites, such as roundworms or hookworms, early in life. Symptoms include loose stool and an upset stomach. The vet can offer an oral drug to paralyse the worms and enable your puppy to pass them in his poop.
The virus is highly contagious and can be caught from direct or indirect contact with contaminated feces. Look for bloody diarrhea, vomiting and a loss of appetite. If you notice those symptoms, offer comfort care and get antibiotics to prevent secondary infections.
This parasite, which is usually found in standing water, can infest your puppy’s gastrointestinal tract and the cells inside. Symptoms include diarrhea, blood in the stool or dehydration. The vet can offer a drug to kill the parasite. Looking to avoid this illness altogether? Keep your puppy’s water and environment sanitary and squeaky clean.
If a pesky mosquito bites a dog with heartworm several houses down, it can pass the worm on to your pet if the bug then bites your dog. It takes up to six or seven months before your puppy shows signs of illness. Heartworms can cause heart failure and lung disease and are potentially deadly.
Your dog will have a persistent dry, honking cough. See your veterinarian for an antibiotic, offer supportive care (no stress or junk food for your little guy!) and keep your sick dog away from his puppy friends until he’s better. A vaccination is available.
Small dogs can end up with low blood sugar if they don’t eat enough. If your dog has hypoglycemia, she may show signs of lethargy and possibly have seizures. When caring for your suffering dog, offer a proper diet and possibly diabetes medication provided by a vet.