The puppy has finally arrived. His bed and bowl are waiting. Puppy food is in the cupboard. And there’s a whole box of new toys ready. So what else do you need to know? Will Draper, head of the Village Vets, a large, multi-veterinarian practice in Decatur, Ga., has the answers to your questions.
Q: Do I need to puppy proof my house? If so, how do I do it?
A: Puppies are like children. They love to learn and they’re inquisitive. And just like with children, you have to keep things they can chew on and swallow out of reach. So keep toys away, and don’t leave food where they can get to it, especially candy or foods that could make them sick. Keep trash cans secured or they will get into them and eat bones and beer bottle tops and other things that are dangerous. I can’t tell you how many beer bottle tops I’ve taken out of puppies’ bellies.
The biggest thing we see in our emergency room with puppies is that they’ve swallowed something. They swallow balls, a sock, a piece of a plastic toy. Puppies love to chew on plastic.
Q: How soon does my new puppy need to see a vet?
A: As soon as possible. Many breeders and adoption agencies will have something like a 48-hour guarantee, so you want to get it done in that time. But even without that, you still should get the puppy in within a day or two. That way, if there’s something wrong, we can catch it early and get it before it becomes a big problem.
It also gives us a chance to talk with owners about what it takes to raise a puppy. We need to talk about worms, feeding, vaccinations, the financial aspect of owning a pet, and everything else they can expect over the life of their dog.
The owners should bring in their list of questions, too. You need to ask your vet every question that comes to mind. You can’t ask too many questions. Your veterinarian should be willing to block out time for that.
In my practice, we really want to educate people on the responsibility they are taking on and everything that goes along with it. Understand that this is a lifelong commitment. This cute puppy is going to grow up and that’s going to require a lot of patience and a financial commitment. A lot of people don’t understand how expensive it can be to properly care for a dog.
Q: At what age should my puppy start his vaccinations? Why is this important?
A: Vaccinations are usually started at about eight weeks. Then they get a series every three weeks until they’re 16 weeks of age. Most puppies get three to four series of vaccines, and after that it’s just the yearly vaccines.