Bringing a new puppy home is exciting! Get your puppy started on the "right paw" using these tips.
Puppy proof your home and yard before bringing them home. Remember, puppies are like toddlers and put everything in their mouths. Be certain electrical cords are out of reach.
Be sure to get a copy of the vaccine and deworming history from the shelter, rescue group or breeder. This information will be important to plan for the pups future medical care. If possible, also get a small bag of the food the puppy is currently eating. It is wise to slowly transition (over 7-10 days) to the diet you plan to feed. Mix the new diet in gradually with the old diet. This helps avoid diarrhea that can occur with a sudden diet change.
Check your puppy for fleas and ticks before bringing them into your home. Use a flea comb to comb out bugs and check for flea "dirt". Flea "dirt" (flea poo) looks like black flecks in the haircoat. Flea "dirt" will turn red if you put it on a kleenex and get it damp with hydrogen peroxide.
Please keep your new puppy in a separate room from your other pets until they are Vet checked. This is to prevent them from spreading contagious diseases like Kennel Cough, Distemper, intestinal parasites or Parvo virus. Take your new puppy to the Vet for a physical exam and fecal check for intestinal parasites within 48 hrs of bringing them home. Puppies frequently have intestinal parasites like Roundworm, Coccidia or Giardia. Puppies need to be dewormed regularly. Roundworm are zoonotic (meaning dogs can give them to people), so be sure to protect your family by testing your puppy for them and deworming.
Puppies need booster vaccines every 3-4 weeks beginning at 6-8 weeks of age. They have some immunity from nursing (if the Mom was properly vaccinated), but this immunity will break down with time. The vaccines teach their body to produce protective antibodies against Distemper virus, Parvo virus, and Kennel cough (Bordatella). The last Parvo vaccine should be given after 18 weeks of age. A 1 year Rabies vaccine should be given at 18 weeks of age. Puppies must have a 1 Yr Rabies vaccine the first year, then can have a 3 yr Rabies vaccine the next year. Distemper and Parvo titers can be checked when the puppy is 1 yr and 5 months old to see if a booster vaccine is needed. (Currently there is no titer check available for Rabies or Kennel Cough.)
Be careful where you take a young puppy. Taking them to the dog park, playground, pet store or soccer practice is not a good idea until they are 18 weeks old and have had their last Distemper/Parvo vaccine and Rabies vaccine. We don't want to expose them to viruses until they are better immunized. It is OK to take your puppy to visit family or friends if their pets are healthy and current on vaccinations.
Puppies need to learn their manners! Getting them started in a puppy kindergarten class is always a good idea. Don't wait to start their training until they are 6 months old and have some bad habits to break! Puppy kindergarten also helps with socialization. Be sure the puppies in the puppy kindergarten class are Vet checked, have a negative fecal and are current on vaccines for their age.
Start brushing your new pups teeth when they are young, and they will grow up thinking it is a normal part of their day. Also regularly handle their paws to help with future nail trims. Please do not bathe your puppy until a Vet has examined them.
Consider getting a microchip for identification. Some pups may have a chip if they are from a rescue group or shelter. If your pup has a microchip be sure to register as the owner with the chip manufacturer. Most pups from breeders will need to have a chip implanted by the Vet.