Puppies arrive full of love and trust, looking to you — their new parent! — to teach, love, and protect them.
Start with immunity
Mama Dog begins protecting her pups with maternal antibodies at birth. “Passive immunity is passed through milk colostrum within the first 24 hours, lasting a short time,” explains Katie Brooks of Tanasbourne Veterinary Emergency (TVE). As that protection wanes, vaccines are given to stimulate active immunity to protect from disease. Without vaccines a new pup is vulnerable to diseases that can be very costly to treat and even life threatening. No puppy should suffer from preventable disease; if you notice your puppy isn’t acting normally, see your vet immediately.
Behavior training is important for puppies’ success in their environment. Mama dogs teach their pups behavior almost from the start, and it’s your job to pick up where she left off. “Training can begin quite early,” explains Amélie Rivaleau DVM, also of TVE. “The best period for puppies to learn is prior to 16 weeks of age. Most people obtain puppies at 6-8 weeks, which leaves a decent amount of time for training at home. Unfortunately, this coincides with the period when puppies cannot be in public/communal areas, but thankfully, they can learn well from older, vaccinated dogs about appropriate play behavior. Check out sites like Victoria Stillwell's to educate yourself about things you can do at home to nurture a happy, confident, well-mannered dog.”
Fun and learning
When it comes to toys, shop for puppy like you would a baby. No small parts or pieces that may break off and be swallowed. Long foreign bodies, such as string, can lodge in the intestines. “If you see your pup swallow a string, don't wait on it!” Rivaleau says. “Get to the vet!” Surgeries to remove foreign bodies are one of the most common at TVE. Toys can be a great training tool for a teething or mouthy puppy. Chew toys recommended by Lisa Davis, CVT VTS at VCA North Portland Veterinary Hospital include rubber balls, Nylabones (Gumma bone only), Jolly Pets balls, Greenies, Dentabones, and Kong toys.
Everything goes in their mouths!
Keep anything potentially harmful out of reach, and stay aware. Knowing their whereabouts goes beyond the “it’s too quiet in here — they must be up to something.” The speed with which puppies will eat anything dropped or left within reach is often underestimated by the humans. Ingestion of drugs and harmful foods frequently land puppies in an emergency hospital. If your pet ever ingests something you are concerned about, contact your vet immediately, or the Pet Poison resources at the end of this article.
Falls are a serious hazard — from windows, decks, and even someone’s arms. L for places a fall could occur and be vigilant in protecting them. Puppies are also often (unintentionally) injured by humans — accidentally getting kicked or stepped on, bumped by moving furniture (even as seemingly innocuous as a kitchen chair), or a closing door. Puppies love to be near their people, so they’re often underfoot.
While accidents happen, most are preventable. Taking precautions before and after bringing a new little one home can greatly reduce the risks and increase the odds for a happy, injury-free life for your new best friend.
Tanasbourne Veterinary Emergency * tanasbourneveter.com * 503-629-5800
VCA North Portland Veterinary Hospital * vcahospitals.com/north-portland * 503-285-0462
ASPCA Poison Control Center * Aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control * - Open 24/7, Charges may apply * 888-426-4435
Pet Poison Helpline * Petpoisonhelpline.com * Open 24/7, Charges may apply * 855-764-7661
Christy Caballero writes from the heart about all things pet-related, from a couple deer trails off the beaten path, typically juggling a cat (or two) on her lap as black kitty AsTar teeters on her shoulder and Mojo the retired Greyhound quietly calls for reinforcements!!