If you're considering welcoming a new puppy into your family, you might want to do some research to make sure you know what to expect. In this post, our Seattle veterinarians outline a basic guide for caring for your puppy for that first crucial year.
Puppy-Proofing Your Home
Raising a puppy is an exciting and adorable experience but does come with some challenges. For first-time puppy owners, the task can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you don't know what you're getting yourself into. Our vets at Aurora Veterinary Hospital hope to further prepare you for the experience so your pup can grow up to be a happy, healthy, and well-behaved doggy.
No matter how hard you try, it is virtually impossible to provide your curious, energetic pup with around-the-clock supervision. To minimize the trouble your puppy can get into when you aren't around, you should puppy-proof your home before their homecoming. Secure electrical cords and move potentially toxic plants or substances, such as cleaning supplies and insecticides, out of reach.
It's a good idea to crawl through your home to get a puppy's-eye view of their surroundings. Remove anything they might be tempted to chew or swallow, and close off vents, pet doors, or any other openings that might allow them to become lost or stuck. Not only will this help keep them safe, but it will also ease your anxiety that your new pup is lost.
Caring for a Puppy
Puppies are very energetic as well as curious about everything going on around them. Puppy owners will need a lot of patience to keep them out of trouble, instruct them on acceptable behavior, and teach them about the world in a safe manner.
Luckily, you will get some breaks throughout the day as puppies tend to sleep a lot. That being said, they don't always sleep through the night which can result in them whining and/or barking throughout the night due to being left alone.
Your pup will likely be motivated to chew on just about anything as their adult teeth come in, which can result in the not-so-cute destruction of items around the house. On the bright side, this behavior won't last too long as your pup will be all grown up by the time they turn a year old, as most of those types of puppy tendencies will be left behind.
Puppies have different nutrient and energy needs than matured dogs. When your pup is 6-12 weeks old, a good feeding structure would dictate they are fed 4 times a day. At 3-6 months, 3 meals a day should be provided. After 6 months and on, as your pup matures and grows into an adult dog, 2 meals a day will suffice.
For some small breeds, it can be best to free-feed young pups to ensure they receive adequate nutrition. Toy and small breed dogs reach physical maturity faster than larger breeds and can be switched over to adult dog food and adult-sized portions between 9 and 12 months of age.
Larger breeds can take a full two years to reach physical maturity and have different nutritional needs than small breeds. They should be fed puppy food specifically formulated for large breeds.
Talk to your vet about the best time to switch your growing large-breed dog to adult food. They should also be fed multiple meals each day with controlled portions to prevent complications, such as stomach bloat.
What You'll Need
Your new puppy will require a lot of supplies that you should have prepared before bringing them home. Some supplies you will need include:
- A crate or dog carrier
- A dog bed
- Food and water dishes
- High-quality puppy food and healthy dog treats
- Fresh, clean water
- A dog brush or comb
- Puppy-safe shampoo
- Puppy-safe toys
- A collar with ID
- Dog toothbrush and dog-safe toothpaste
- Nail trimmers
- Poop bags
- Travel bag
- "Pop" sound when walking
- Pet-safe home cleaner
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.