Adopting a new puppy is an exciting time. From the day you bring your beloved pet home, you’re probably eager to shower them with love and special items. But while keeping your puppy happy with toys and treats is great, it’s much more important to take steps to maintain their health.
In order to set your dog up for a lifetime of great health, you should start when they are a young puppy. Fortunately, doing this is pretty easy! Here are some of the things you can do to make sure your puppy grows properly and lives a happy and healthy life.
Pay attention to puppy food and people food
Your puppy’s diet is one of the most important aspects of maintaining their health. Puppies should eat specially formulated puppy food that provides the nutrients they need to grow big and strong.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of puppy food products out there that don’t provide all the nutrition your puppy needs. Make sure you do plenty of research on the food you provide and follow any veterinarian recommendations. Once you do find that perfect pet food brand, follow the directions based on your pet’s weight. It’s very important that you don’t overfeed them to prevent obesity!
Additionally, you should be aware of the types of people food that can hurt dogs. Most people know that you should never give a dog chocolate. However, it’s also important to not feed them things like onions, alcohol and garlic. There are plenty of pet-safe treats you can give them, instead, like fresh fruit, rice, peanut butter and yogurt—but only feed these once in a while to keep your puppy’s weight under control.
Make sure they are drinking enough water
Just as important as making sure your puppy eats the right food is making sure they are getting the right amount of water. Dehydration can keep your puppy’s body from functioning properly and may end up causing problems with their kidneys.
Symptoms of dehydration in dogs include dry gums, sticky saliva, loss of appetite and dry nose. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to take your pup to the vet’s office.
To avoid dehydration, make sure your puppy always has access to clean water. Clean out their water bowls each day—water that has been sitting too long might contain bacteria or other things that can make your puppy sick. Some puppies will play or nap too hard to remember to drink, so encourage your pup to take breaks and lead them to their water bowl regularly.
Give them proper exercise
Everybody needs exercise to maintain a healthy body, including your puppy. The amount of exercise your puppy needs each day might vary based on their exact age and breed. It goes without saying that larger puppies usually require more exercise than smaller ones, but you should never avoid playtime, no matter what size your puppy is. Get your pup in the habit of taking daily walks, playing fetch or running around.
However, it’s also important to not exercise your puppy too much. Puppies are young and still require plenty of rest. Aim to play in 30- to 60-minute increments, then allow your puppy to take a restorative nap.
Get vaccines and preventative care
Most vets recommend that puppies follow a strict schedule of vaccinations that should start when they are around six weeks old. They might need to go in to get booster shots until around 18 weeks old to ensure that they’re fully protected from dangerous diseases. Common vaccinations that every puppy should have include distemper, parvovirus and rabies.
There are also several types of preventative medications or supplements that puppies might need to stay healthy. Both heartworm and flea/tick prevention medications should be given to your puppy on a routine basis. It is also important to get deworming products for dogs. These preventative measures will protect your pup from parasites that could hamper their growth and affect them well into adulthood.
Schedule routine veterinary visits
Just like their owners, puppies need to visit the doctor regularly. The frequency at which your puppy needs to see the vet can vary on a case-by-case basis. Usually, a puppy will need to see the vet for routine checkups and scheduled vaccinations a few times in their first year of life, followed by annual visits as they age. These regular visits will ensure your puppy is growing into a health adult dog and that any health problems are spotted and treated early.
Keeping your puppy healthy doesn’t have to be complicated—just follow the directions given by your veterinarian and watch for symptoms of illness. If you make sure your puppy gets exercise, is protected against disease, eats right and has plenty of water, then you are sure to have a happy and healthy furry friend for years to come.