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Healthy Dogs

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New Puppy FAQ

What you need to know about bringing home a new puppy.



Q: Can puppies have heartworms?

A: Puppies can be infected any time after birth. But heartworms take six months to mature, so even if a puppy right out of the womb is bitten by an infected mosquito, he wouldn’t test positive for heartworms until he’s about six months old.

People should talk to their veterinarian about getting their puppy on heartworm preventative as soon as possible.


Q: Can I flea dip my puppy or put other flea products on him if he has fleas and ticks?

A: You have to be very careful. Most flea and tick products aren’t safe for puppies and some could even kill them. It’s best to talk to your veterinarian if you have this problem. The vet can give you something safe for your puppy and tell you how to administer it correctly.

I can’t tell you how many puppies we’ve seen at our emergency clinic that have been poisoned by over-the-counter flea and tick products that their owner bought at the supermarket or a big box store. We never recommend over-the-counter flea and tick products because the kind of medication they use isn’t as safe as the products the FDA has approved to be sold by veterinarians.


Q: What should I feed my new puppy, and why did he develop diarrhea right after I brought him home?

A: He has diarrhea because he’s stressed. You’ve changed his environment. He’s left his siblings and his mother. Stress affects an animal’s gastrointestinal system before it affects anything else. Generally, they get over this in the first week.

Also, any abrupt change in a puppy’s diet is going to cause the puppy some gastrointestinal upset. So try to find out what the breeder or adoption agency was feeding him and try to keep him on it. Or, if you have to change it, try to do so over a four- or five-day period by mixing the old food with the new food. If you change it quickly, you’ll have problems.

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