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Cold Lake Veterinary Clinic - Puppy Information
The following document highlights all of the resources you may need to support you in your ownership of a young puppy. The early days of socializing and training are very important to set the stage for your furry-friend experience moving forward. If you have any questions about any of the topics found here, please call the clinic to speak to one of our staff: 780-594-5212
Vaccines are given to animals in order to train the immune system to respond effectively and efficiently if ever exposed to the real disease causing agent. A vaccine is a dose of the agent that causes the disease in an animal that has either been inactivated or is incomplete. There are certain diseases that have been defined as “core” vaccines which means that it is recommended that all dogs are vaccinated for them including Parvovirus, Distemper, Adenovirus and Rabies.
Puppies need a series of vaccine boosters at 8, 12 and 16 weeks. Puppies receive antibodies from their mother, which protect them from certain viruses. However, this protection goes away as the puppy gets older. This maternal protection can interfere with vaccines given to a puppy which is why repeated boosters are needed to ensure that the puppy is able to develop its own immune response. Once a puppy is finished his or her puppy series, they are then vaccinated again yearly thereafter.
Intestinal Parasites: Dewormer is a product that is used to kill certain types of internal worms such as roundworms and hookworms. Some internal parasites are transmitted from the mother to her pups in her milk and so it is very important that puppies have proper deworming. Sometimes a puppy will have signs such as vomiting or diarrhea but most often there is no evidence of a parasitic infection. Many people believe that you will see worms in the feces when a dog has an infection but this is very rare and usually only after a dewormer has been given. With a truly severe infection, a puppy can die from intestinal parasites. Your veterinarian will deworm your puppy with each vaccine in the puppy series and may recommend more frequent deworming if needed.
External Parasites: Fleas and ticks are a common issue in dogs and can be prevented with the use of preventatives. Please ask your veterinarian about products that are available and when to use them.
Puppies should be fed a diet that is labelled for growth until they are at least 6 months of age for small breeds, and up to 12months of age in large and giant breed dogs. Large and giant breed dogs should be fed a diet that is labelled for growth in large breed puppies since they have different nutritional requirements than a small breed dog.
Nutrition is very important for a growing puppy, so finding a balanced diet is key to their long term growth and health. Any commercial dog or cat food must meet the standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) in North America. A food that has met these standards can be determined to be complete and balanced which means that nothing needs to be added for a puppy’s nutritional needs to be met. With the large supply of commercial pet foods available, we recommend finding a puppy food that meets AAFCO standards. These foods will have a label on the bag that says they have either been formulated to meet the nutritional levels of AAFCO or that there are animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures. The best foods are the ones that have animal feeding tests done on them since these foods have actually been fed to animals and any issues have been corrected. A few companies with good research behind their foods include Purina, Hills, Royal Canin and Iams. It is also important to note that grain free diets are not necessary for dogs. Dogs require grains because they contain essential vitamins and minerals. Raw and homemade diets are also not recommended because they are often imbalanced and there is a significant risk of infectious disease to the puppy and the owner.
Spay and Neuter:
There are many reasons to spay or neuter your pet and your veterinarian would be happy to discuss the pros and cons in more detail.
Spaying: Spaying is removal of the ovaries +/- the uterus in a female dog or cat. Spaying a female dog or cat before she goes through her first cycle helps to drastically reduce her risk of breast cancer later in life to below 1%. If she is spayed after her first heat cycle, her risk of breast cancer goes up to 8% and then up to 26% if she is spayed after her second heat cycle. Spaying your pet also eliminates the risk of ovarian cancer, uterine cancers, unwanted pregnancy, and life-threatening uterine infections.
Neutering: Neutering is removal of the testicles and spermatic cord in a male dog or cat. Neutering helps to reduce behavioural issues such as roaming, fighting, aggression, spraying (in cats) and marking (in dogs) especially if they are neutered before the onset of these behaviours. It also eliminates the risk of testicular cancer, reduces the risk of prostate enlargement and prostatitis. It is a common myth that male dogs will lose their personality after neutering but this is not true.
Teething: A puppy’s adult teeth will all erupt between 3 and 6 months and all the baby teeth will be lost in this time. During this time, puppies will often chew on many things, including things that they are not supposed to. It is essential to have a variety of toys and chews available for puppies at this time to satisfy their need to chew. Most veterinarians recommend that puppies have 1 hard (like a rubber chew), 1 medium and 1 soft toy available at all times so that they are able to choose what they want to chew on. Long lasting toys such as a kong with peanut butter in it are also highly effective. Puppies also often like to chew on cold things such as a frozen kong, or cold veggies like carrots. Hard items such as antlers and bones are not recommended because they can cause expensive damage to the teeth in dogs and sometimes can cause intestinal issues. Instead use things like dental chews. Also we do not recommend the use of felt type balls and toys such as tennis balls since they cause unnecessary wearing of the teeth.
Dental Concerns: Your veterinarian will examine your puppy’s teeth with each puppy visit and will let you know of any issues that they determine at that time. It is important to remember that some issues cannot be assessed until all or most of the adult teeth are present. At the time of the spay or neuter, your veterinarian will closely examine the teeth for any issues with jaw length that cause improper contact between teeth and gums or any retained baby teeth that must be removed. Small breed dogs and brachycephalic (smoosh faced dogs) are especially prone to both of these issues. For more information, please ask your veterinarian.
Dogs are happy to have a place that is their own such as a crate or a mat that is just for them where they have fun toys and treats. Puppies need to be taken out frequently as they simply can’t hold their urine. Try not to leave your puppy alone longer than they can actually hold it since having accidents can make housetraining more difficult. When your puppy eliminates outside, it is important to reward them with treats, love or toys (whatever they love the most). It is often very helpful to have specific mealtimes and then take your puppy outside about 15 minutes later. If you see your puppy have an accident in the house, simply pick them up, take them outside and reward them for doing their business outside. Never punish your puppy for having an accident in the house either and keep in mind that there will be accidents because it is a steep learning curve. Make sure to clean up any accidents with an enzymatic cleaner to remove the scent.
Please refer to “The Perfect Puppy in 7 Days” handout for recommended training tips. Dr. Sophia Yin has a great website with further information and training education. The Learn to Earn Program is also highly recommended for puppy training. Dominance theory training style is not recommended as this can lead to fearful and aggressive dogs.
Socializing your new pet is extremely important because it is how a young animal learns to make positive associations between animals, people, places and things. The most critical period for dogs is up to 16 weeks of age so it is crucial to expose your puppy to lots of new experiences when they are young. Socialization includes other dogs, cats, people, kids, places, noises, smells, car rides etc. It also includes getting your dog used to being handled so make sure to play with your puppy’s toes, ears, mouth etc so that they are comfortable with having everything touched. We recommend socializing your puppy with other healthy, vaccinated adult dogs.
Pet insurance is a good idea for any new pet owner and can help owners to manage the cost of vet bills if their pet is ever injured or ill. The best time to get pet insurance is when your puppy is young and healthy since your premium will be at its lowest then. If you have questions, please ask your veterinarian.
Here is a list of foods and substances that are toxic to your pet so please avoid these:
AVSAB Puppy Socialization Position Statement This document highlights the importance of socializing at a very young age. The following article gives tips and tricks on how to do that during this time of social distancing: https://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/socializing-your-puppy-while-social-distancing