Fleas, neutering and spaying, worming, and grooming – all are important concerns for the puppy owner. Get helpful hints on these topics in this article.
Having a new puppy in the home is rather like having a new baby around. It’s not always easy to distinguish serious problems from minor ailments.
Choosing a vet
All licensed vets are trained in professional animal care. You may be drawn to one in particular because of the convenient location of the vet’s clinic, the services he or she provides or simply because you find your vet especially easy to talk to. The only sure thing is that choosing a vet is part of your obligation to your dog. Ask your breeder or friends to recommend a vet.
When should you consult a vet?
It’s a good idea to get your vet to give your new puppy a check-up as soon as you get him. You can discuss vaccinations, de-worming and general puppy care. Seek advice from your vet if your puppy refuses food for more than a day, if he has diarrhoea or vomiting, or if he is lethargic for no reason.
If you don’t intend to breed your dog, then you should seriously consider neutering. Spaying and neutering an animal will cause minimal discomfort. Spaying and neutering can reduce the risk of several different conditions later in life. Your vet can advise you about when it’s best to have the operation done. If you decide not to get the operation for your dog, you should be prepared for some unexpected changes.
Unneutered males, for example, will often roam after female dogs in heat and will become aggressive. If you do not wish your female dog to become pregnant, you must carefully supervise her when she is in heat. They are also prone to phantom (or false) pregnancy, which could require veterinary treatment.
Many puppies are born with roundworms. To ensure that your puppy thrives, it is important to get rid of these worms. There are many safe, effective products available for this purpose, and your vet will be able to prescribe a suitable treatment. A professional breeder will usually give puppies worm treatments from the age of three weeks, repeating as and when necessary. Check with the breeder and talk to your vet about your puppy’s de-worming programme.
Many adult dogs also carry roundworms. To ensure that your dog stays worm-free, continue to de-worm him every six months for the rest of his life, or discuss frequency with your vet.
If you notice fleas in your dog’s coat, visit your vet, who can recommend an effective treatment for the elimination of fleas. If you choose to buy flea powders or sprays in a store, check that these are suitable for use on puppies. If your dog has fleas, you need to treat his environment as well. Wash all the dog’s bedding. Wash the basket and clean the boxes, corners, rugs and furniture. Use dusting flea powders or aerosols. If you are in any doubt about a particular flea product, ask your vet for advice. There are also many professional companies that can treat your home for flea infestations.
Eyes and ears
Your dog’s eyes and ears should always be clean. The eye area can be gently cleaned with moist cotton swabs. The ears can be wiped with dry cotton batting. This must be done carefully, without poking anything inside.
Your dog’s claws should be checked. If you walk your dog on hard surfaces (such as asphalt), remember that the claws wear down, and in this case, you don’t need to do anything. However, if your dog walks mostly on grass, his claws will need regular trimming. Your breeder or vet can show you how to do this properly.
Teeth and gums
Puppies enjoy chewing on everyday household objects. Discourage your dog from doing this, and provide him with specially designed toys for chewing. Although puppies will generally not have problems with their teeth or gums, plaque can quickly build up at the base of the teeth. This can cause gum disease in dogs as young as 12 months. To reduce the risk of this happening, regularly check your pet’s teeth. For adult dogs, special dog biscuits or chews are very beneficial, and help clean the plaque off your dog’s teeth. You can also introduce tooth brushing at this age.
Bathing and grooming
As a general rule, dogs should be bathed infrequently or only when necessary. They may need a bath when they have fleas or when they’re dirty and a simple brushing is not enough to get the dirt out. Much depends on the dog’s breed. Smooth-coated dogs require minimal grooming, while dogs with longer coats should be groomed every day. A responsible dog owner should have a good grooming brush and comb, preferably one that has been specially developed for dogs. Poodles require clipping every six to eight weeks. Dogs with silky coats, such as Cocker Spaniels, should be trimmed every three months. Dogs with wiry-haired coats, such as Terriers, need to be clipped every six to eight weeks. Each breed is different, so always consult your breeder for more detailed information.