Top 10 Considerations for New Puppy Owners

Posted on by Christopher Bern, DVM

A new puppy is a wonderful addition to a home. They are lively, fun, and adorable, but many people may wonder what they need to do to initially make the newcomer welcome and healthy. Here is a list of the top 10 things you need to keep in mind as your puppy adjusts to his or her new home.

  1. Bowls
    Stainless steel or unpainted ceramic bowls are recommended due to the ease of cleaning and hypoallergenic nature.
  2. High Quality Food
    Not all foods are created equal, and many foods are more hype and marketing than quality. Talk to your vet about what kinds of foods he or she recommends. Puppy food should be used for the first 12 months of life.
  3. Leash
    A good leash is important for keeping your puppy under control. Though they don’t like them at first, with proper training they will get used to being on a leash. Avoid retractable leashes until the puppy is well trained to heel.
  4. Kennel
    Dogs are animals whose ancestors lived in dens, so kennels are natural to them. Starting the puppy in a kennel at a young age will make housebreaking easier, as well as improve their behaviors. Make sure to choose a kennel appropriate for your puppy’s size with room to grow in the larger dogs.
  5. Brush/Comb
    If you get puppies used to being brushed when they are young, you will make it easier to care for their coat when they are adults. Regular brushing is especially important for long-haired dogs to help prevent matting.
  6. Toys
    Most young dogs love to chew, so choose toys that are durable and encourage this behavior. Always check the toys for signs of excessive wear, throwing them away if stuffing is visible, sharp edges are present, or your dog is breaking off large pieces.
  7. Collars
    Talk to your vet about whether you should use a harness or a collar. These are important for keeping your pet safely under control and allow an ID tag to be used in case your puppy gets away from you.
  8. Dental Care
    Start your puppy on regular tooth brushing from a young age, getting them used to having this done at least 3-5 times per week. Also, use appropriate dental treats designed for dogs. Consistent dental care can help prevent painful or serious disease later in life.
  9. Heartworm Prevention
    Heartworm disease has been found in all 50 states and is continuing to spread. You need to make sure that you start using heartworm preventive medication as young as six weeks old and use it year-round for the life of your dog. This is a serious and potentially fatal disease that is completely preventable.
  10. Vaccines
    Puppies need to have vaccines starting around 6-8 weeks old. Even dogs who rarely leave the house or yard can be exposed to various diseases that could have been prevented by proper vaccination. Rabies is required by law and the distemper-parvo combination is critically important.

Probably most important of all is something that ties all of these things together­ – the veterinary exam! A vet’s exam can find problems you may not have noticed, allowing early intervention. They can also answer any questions you have about your puppy’s health and upbringing. If you haven’t already, call your vet for an appointment today!

About Christopher Bern, DVM

Dr. Bern has been with the practice since 1999 and currently works as the Chief of Staff for the Woodstock, GA hospital. View all posts by Christopher Bern, DVM →

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