Taking care of a puppy

Taking care of a puppy

11 areas to look out for

1. Food & Feeding:
  • When you get a puppy from someone, be it through adoption or purchase, be sure to check whether it has been introduced to solid food. Most of the time, they should already be on solids unless they are less than 4 weeks old. 

  • Sudden changes in food types or brands can cause diarrhea, so it is vital to know what your pup was being fed and start feeding the same food type and brand while you gradually introduce any new food over the next 2 weeks.
    For instance, for first 3 days, feed them in the portion of 80% old food type and 20% new food. Then move on to 70/30 ratio for next 3 days and so on and so forth. Usually, the combination of lamb and rice is quite safe but many dogs have allergic reactions to chicken.  

  • 6-8 week old pups should be given 3-4 small feeds a day. When they are 6 month old, this can be reduced to twice daily. 

  • Pups require a well balanced diet. Therefore, a good quality premium puppy food which will provide the correct amount of energy, protein and all the vitamins and minerals to help get your pet off to the best start in life is strongly recommended. Flaxseed oil is good for healthy fur coat as well strong immunity system. 

  • Some owners cut down on their pup’s food intake for fear that it will grow too big or be overweight. This is not advisable, especially during the 1st year of age as this is the crucial period to feed them well and healthy so that a strong immunity system is built as foundation for life.

2. Cleanliness & Hygiene
  • Puppies have poor hygiene and therefore it is important to wash your hands after playing with your puppy. 

  • Common infections such as ringworm and fungal infection can be passed from dogs to people. 

  • Avoid letting your dog lick your face, especially the face of children, elderly or immune-compromised people.

3. De-worming
  • Intestinal parasites are common in dogs. Some can infect the pup before birth or later through their mothers’ milk. Ask how often has the pup been de-wormed and when was the last time it was done. 

  • Pups should be de-wormed with a reliable all-wormer every 2 weeks from 2 weeks old until 12 weeks. Treatment should be done monthly until 6 month old and then 3 monthly. 

  • Types of worms
    Round worms – can cause visceral larval migrans
    Hookworms – particularly dangerous to puppies
    Whipworms – can cause diarrhea in adults
    Tapeworms – are a common parasite of dogs. Segments look like grains of rice in the stools. Can cause irritation to the anus – dogs may “scoot” along the ground.
    Hydatid tapeworms – carried by dogs which eat raw offal and sheep carcasses. Requires treatment every 6 weeks.

 4. Vaccination

Dogs are susceptible to a number of preventable viral diseases. Some of them are common but quite a number are also deadly. All of these viral diseases are extremely contagious.

  • Parvovirus – This is a common and deadly disease, especially for pups and older animals. It is highly contagious and usually results in outbreaks within a population of unvaccinated areas. It attacks the intestines resulting in bloody vomit and diarrhea, until the animal usually dies of shock through blood loss. Treatment is very expensive with a 50/50 percent chance of survival depending on its severity of infection. Vaccination is highly effective against it. 

  • Distemper – Rare nowadays but few cases are still diagnosed each year. Causes fever and pneumonia, leaving animals with life long nerve defect as the brain is damaged. 

  • Canine Viral hepatitis – Common, occasionally serious but usually mild or no signs. Causes liver damage and sometimes liver failure. 

  • Kennel / Canine cough – Caused by a combination of viruses and bacteria. Bordatella and Parainfluenza are commonly vaccinated against. Kennel/ Canine cough results in a honking cough which is extremely contagious and frustrating to treat. Can last for a few weeks. 

  • Vaccination works by teaching the dog’s immune system to recognize the virus. The body is then armed ready to attack the virus before it can replicate and cause disease. The ‘teaching’ takes time and in the first year must be repeated to build up the recognition. This is done by repeating the vaccine.

  • We recommend the following vaccination
    At 6-8 weeks – 1st vaccine
    At 10-12 weeks – 2nd vaccine
    At 14-16 weeks – 3rd vaccine
    Vaccines should be done 4 weeks apart and no longer.
    Annual vaccination is recommended after the 3rd vaccine. 

  • Vaccinations can sometimes cause reactions, but this is rare. Most common side effect is that the animal may be ‘off color’ or show soreness at the injection site. These symptoms usually only last for 24 hours. Call the vet clinic if you are concerned with your pet’s reaction.

5. Heartworm

It is a disease spread by mosquitoes and is becoming more of a problem in Singapore. Immature worms live in the bloodstream of a dog until they are picked up by a mosquito and then move to a new host. The worm grows into an adult that lives in the heart chambers and blood vessels of the lungs. Heart failure soon develops. Heartworm is a silent, slow and painful death for a dog. Treatment is expensive so we strongly recommend prevention against heartworm, especially dogs which travel or live near water sources. The product Revolution is a common product to kill baby heartworms before they become an adult.

Heart worm prevention should be commenced from 3 months of age. A heartworm test should be run prior to starting treatment if treatment commences after 6 months of age.

6. Fleas & Ticks

It is vital to prevent fleas and ticks on your dog not only because it can infect the entire house but also because they transmit diseases that can permanently change the quality of life for your dog. For example, Babesia Gibsoni is a disease carried to the dog by a tick. Treatment is expensive and there is no guarantee cure. The product Frontline Plus is a common product used to deal with fleas and ticks.

Revolution also deals with fleas and ticks but does not have as wide a coverage as Frontline Plus because it focuses more on heartworms. Frontline Plus does not treat heartworms at all. 

Therefore, we usually recommend that both Revolution and Frontline Plus be applied on the dog on alternate months but never together. If your home, the places that your dog usually hangs out and the doggy friends that it usually mingles with are flea-free and tick-free and not mosquito-infested, then you may want to apply the products alternate bi-monthly.  

7. Fungal Infection  

If you observe that your puppy scratches excessively on a same particular spot or spots, it may have fungal infection or ringworm. Puppies are susceptible to any disease or infection as long as their immunity is not entirely built yet during the first year of age. Get an anti-fungal shampoo and monitor closely. Keep its resting place clean consistently. It scratching persists, see a vet as soon as possible to do a skin scrap test and treat before the infection become full-fledged.

8. Bathing  

Dogs should only be bathed once a week, unless otherwise instructed by the vet. They do not sweat through their skin but their paws so they will not smell of perspiration like humans do. Be sure to towel them dry after each bath and groom their coat instead leaving them to dry on their own because wet coat is the best environment to attract fleas and ticks to hop onto them.

When bathing, never let water or any form of liquid get into the dog’s eyes or ears. It will cause early cataracts and ear infection and even more serious conditions.

Cover the eyes and pull the ears downward when you want to clean the dog’s head. Alternatively, use a wet towel to clean the head.

9. Sterilization  

Sterilization of your pet, both male and female, is strongly recommended for many reasons.

Females – Spaying is removing the uterus and ovaries under a general anesthetic.

  • First season is at about 6 month old

  • Each season lasts about 2-3 weeks, depending on size of dogs.

  • It can be extremely hard for a female because the male dogs can follow the scent very well and she will consistently be hounded by them, not having even the chance to eat or rest. She may also be petrified because dogs whom she has never met, big or small, will just come after her.

  • Higher risk of mammary cancer and uterine infections in female dogs that have had their first heat.

Males – Castration requires an anesthetic and is done from 5 months onwards. We recommend before 6 months, as once aggressive behavior is learnt, removing the testosterone may not have a great effect.

  • Mature males will seek out females on heat and go through lots of effort to get to her. This can result in cuts from fences, getting hit by cars or going missing.

  • Un-sterilized males are more aggressive towards humans and other dogs because of the territorial tendency.

  • They will urinate to ‘mark’ regularly and have pungent smelling urine.

  • Higher risk of prostate cancer in un-sterilized dogs.

10. Microchipping

A microchip is an individual permanent implant which can be read using a special reader. It is a requirement by AVA before a dog can be licensed.

11. Socialization 

Your pup should be socialized with other dogs (as soon as vaccination has taken place) and with other people to make them a happy pet.

Doggy Care

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