Puppy Health And Care Guide

Useful information for any new puppy owner!

First Vet Check: Top Questions to Ask

Now that you’re a new parent of a bundle of furry joy, it’s your responsibility to take care of your pup’s health needs. It’s crucial to do your research when choosing your veterinarian. Visit a few in your area, get recommendations from friends or neighbors, and make sure you’re comfortable with the physician’s medical philosophy (for example, some vets may prescribe more medications whereas others may prefer holistic treatments).

The best vets have busy schedules, so make sure to schedule your new puppy’s health exam as soon as you know his or her arrival date. Plus, Gorgeous Doodles requires all new pups to complete a new puppy exam within 48 hours of arrival in order to lock in our health guarantee.

Once you’ve scheduled your first visit with the vet of your choice, you’ll want to come prepared with questions to get the most out of your checkup. Print this list to use as a guide. You’ll thank us later!

  • What types of parasites are common in our area, and what can I do to prevent them?
    Your veterinarian will likely administer deworming medication to ensure your pup stays healthy and parasite-free. It’s important to understand the types of parasites that are common in your area and what symptoms to look for.
  • Where can I find emergency care for my pet during evenings, weekends or holidays?
    Many vets are not open late or on weekends and holidays. Your vet should have a preferred emergency care facility and/or hotline to use if the office is closed.
  • What are the office’s medical capabilities and offerings?
    Some vets have a clinical surgery center on site, but many do not. Ask what type of procedures, testing or exams they’re able to perform at this location and which procedures will require a referral to another provider.
  • Which vaccines are necessary and which are optional based on my puppy’s lifestyle?
    There are standard vaccinations all puppies should receive: distemper, adenovirus-2, canine parvovirus-2, and rabies. However, based on your geographic location, your pup may require additional vaccinations such as leptospirosis, Lyme disease and Bordetella.
  • What flea/tick medication do you recommend?
    Even if you live in an urban city, there is still a risk for fleas and ticks. Fleas and ticks can live in most environments and can frequently travel with other pets or wildlife to new regions in the country. There are many options to help prevent your dog from getting fleas and ticks, and your vet can provide guidance on which one is right for you and your pup.
  • What is considered a healthy weight for my dog’s breed?
    This goes along with how often you should be feeding your pup. You’ll want to work with your vet to ensure your new pup maintains a healthy weight to avoid other associated health issues in the future.
  • Is pet insurance right for my pet, and what should I look for when choosing an insurance plan?
    Pet insurance can be vital in helping keeping care costs low, especially if your pet requires an expensive procedure or surgery later in life. It’s best to get your puppy covered as soon as he or she arrives. Ask if your vet accepts health insurance and what their policy is.
  • How often should my puppy be examined?
    Work out a convenient schedule with your vet to make sure your pup is being seen on a regular or as-needed basis, typically at least once per year.
  • When should my puppy be spayed or neutered?
    Spaying or neutering your puppy provides numerous health benefits and should be considered if you are not planning on breeding your dog. Timing should be discussed during your pup’s first vet visit.
  • What is typical wait time and do you take walk-ins?
    There may be times when you urgently need to see your vet. It is important to know how quickly you’ll be able to see the doctor in case of an emergency.

The First Two Weeks: Warning Signs Your Dog Could Be Hypoglycemic

If your new puppy weighs four pounds or less, one important health condition to be aware of is Hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia, also called low blood sugar, can be triggered by stress, over-excitement, or missing a meal. While treatable, it is important to know what to look for and to act quickly if you see any of the signs of Hypoglycemia in your pup.

Occurring mostly in toy and mini breeds between six and 16 weeks of age, the syndrome is triggered by stressors like travel, introductions to new or large numbers of people, too much play or attention, a change in environment, or simply the overall adjustment into a new home.

Symptoms include (but are not limited to) a decrease in energy, loss of appetite, listlessness, overly cold or hot body temperature, vomiting, and diarrhea. Your puppy may show one or more of these symptoms if his blood sugar is dropping. Remember, your puppy’s blood sugar level is his main energy source, and if it gets too low, medical intervention may be necessary.

Luckily, there are easy ways to prevent hypoglycemic attacks and reoccurring attacks. For the first two weeks, it’s your crucial responsibility to make sure your puppy is eating regular, frequent meals throughout the day. Have dry food available at all times and feed him canned food at least two times a day.

A sugar supplement can also help prevent or decrease the severity of an already-occurring hypoglycemic attack. Nutri-Cal by Vetoquinol is a high-calorie flavored gel ideal for boosting your puppy’s blood sugar, especially if he is a finicky eater. For dogs eating properly, give 1.5 teaspoons of Nutri-Cal per 10 pounds of the dog’s body weight daily. For dogs not eating well, give one tablespoon of Nutri-Cal per 10 pounds of dog’s body weight daily. Most puppies will lick the supplement off your finger, but you may also put a drop directly on the puppy’s tongue or roof of the mouth. You should never force your puppy to swallow pills or supplements, nor should you push the supplement too far back in the mouth.

Nutri-Cal can be purchased from your local pet store or online and should be part of your preparation tool kit prior to bringing a puppy home. In the event you’re unable to get some in time, a fine temporary alternative is honey or Karo syrup in the interim. Adding Pedialyte to your dog’s water (one teaspoon of Pedialyte per pint of water) is also a good idea to prevent dehydration, which can worsen the symptoms of Hypoglycemia.

Should your puppy show the symptoms listed above or less common symptoms like weakness, foaming around the mouth, dry tacky gums, staggering gait, fatigue, tremors or muscular weakness, start the following at-home treatment right away: If the puppy is awake and able to swallow, administer the Nutri-Cal. Once your puppy seems more alert, provide a small amount of water. Continue to administer Nutri-Cal and water every 30 minutes until your puppy becomes more alert and starts to move about. If there is no response within 30 minutes, bring your pup to an emergency vet clinic.

Lastly, to maintain a calm household and keep stress levels low, take appropriate precautions such as limiting your puppy’s playtime to controlled intervals, having a minimal amount of people in the home, not leaving the puppy alone, and keeping your puppy crated or gated within a small space until they get used to their larger surroundings and/or are house-trained.

What to Expect at 8-12 Weeks of Age

Congratulations! Between 8-12 weeks, your puppy has arrived home and the intense bonding process between puppy and family has already begun.

You’ve entered a crucial learning period that will provide the foundation for your puppy’s mental and physical development. Newly away from his biological mommy and litter siblings, your puppy is experiencing a high level of curiosity in his new environment. Anything within reach will be investigated, and likely chewed as a result of that curiosity. In fact, you’ll notice your puppy “mouthing” a lot which is how he grows familiar with the world around him. Basic personality characteristics will begin to emerge but a lot of your puppy’s traits will form based on how he is treated and cared for by the family.

Your puppy is starting to take an active interest in human beings and will look to you for direction on how to behave. So, imagine your puppy as a sponge, ready to absorb all of the information you can provide. This is your opportunity to not only teach him new things but also to set the tone and dynamics of the relationship. It’s important to socialize your dog with other people outside of the family as well as other vaccinated dogs. Basically, however, you’d like your puppy to interact with the world, start introducing it now. So, if you plan to transport him regularly, start taking him for car rides. If you want to make him comfortable with loud noises, don’t be afraid to vacuum the house or run the blender.

As far as physical growth, you may have noticed your puppy is a bit rambunctious and messy – clumsily running around and emptying his bladder and bowels often. At this stage, you should be taking the puppy out every two hours – remember, frequent trips outside mean fewer accidents and clean up for you! As far as appearance goes, puppies are heart-melting for a reason – enjoy those big eyes, soft features, and sleepiness; and snuggle/hold him often – if your puppy is meant to grow up to be a large dog, you won’t have that opportunity for much longer!

In this vulnerable age, keeping your puppy safe is key. The natural immunity passed on from his mother is starting to wear off, and will soon be taken over by rounds of vaccinations. To avoid the dangers of your puppy contracting illness, specifically Parvo, do not allow your puppy around other non-vaccinated dogs. This means: Stay away from dog parks, and even walking down the street if it’s a highly foot-trafficked area. About a week after the final vaccinations (around 17 weeks old), you’ll be able to take your pup everywhere – so just be patient!

Just like with a new baby, you may be worried about your puppy’s health before the first vet visit. Here are the symptoms to keep an eye out for which may require a phone call to your vet:

  • Diarrhea – if it lasts more than a day, is extremely watery or discolored
  • Vomiting – if it persists more than a day, or is extreme
  • Unwillingness to Eat or Drink – if puppy is not interested in food or water

Remember, use your best instincts – if something seems off, don’t hesitate and reach out to a professional.

Finally, there is no better time to start training than now. The earlier your puppy begins basic training, the faster he will learn. There are many different methods and philosophies to training your pup, but a steadfast rule for all is to remain calm, be patient, and reward good behavior. Good luck!

What to Expect at 12-16 Weeks of Age

At 12-16 weeks of age, your puppy will be growing rapidly, both physically and mentally. Puppy’s senses and motor skills are becoming more advanced, which means you’ll notice his curiosity peaking, a more acute awareness of his surroundings, and less awkward movements as he continues to discover his new environment and practices walking and running. A major development is something called “flight ingraining,” which means that instead of following you around everywhere, the puppy is now starting to test limits by exploring boundaries. Puppy is excited by his newfound independence and you may notice him always headed in the opposite direction of you. Don’t let it become a habit; consider this the time to reel him in with both leash and obedience training!

Training

Congratulations on the progress you’ve already made in potty training. It should be getting easier as your puppy gains better bladder control, though you should still expect random (and sometimes, frequent) accidents to occur. Remember, patience and consistency is key to house training success. You may also want to enroll your puppy in a group training class to start socialization training if you haven’t already. Between 0-16 weeks is by far and away the most crucial learning period in your pup’s life. Consider him a sponge for soaking up your teachings. While there will be other opportunities to refine and change behavior, this is the time period when training is the most successful.

Health/Safety

Your puppy should have already received his first vaccinations but should be getting boosters at 12 and 16 weeks. Make sure you’re up to date on your immunization schedule by checking with your vet. For example, Parvo is typically given at 16 weeks. Vaccines are required for most pet service providers such as groomers and daycares as well as dog parks, so it’s imperative you’re current on those shots before putting your dog or another’s dog in a potentially dangerous health situation.

Make sure that your home is not only puppy-proofed but that you keep small, chokable/swallowable items away from your pup.

Nutrition

Your puppy should be eating high-quality, solid food now that he’s been weaned from his mama. Check with your veterinarian on the right feeding plan (on both amount per serving and frequency), but dependent on the breed, your puppy will likely require a few smaller meals throughout the day than adult dogs. As he grows, his “puppy teeth” will begin to fall out and be replaced by “permanent” or adult teeth. Just like a human baby, the puppy will want to teethe, so make sure to give him plenty of chew toys to soothe his sore gums (and to prevent unwanted chewing on valuables!).

Socialization

At this age, you’ll want to introduce your puppy to all kinds of new experiences to make sure he starts to get comfortable around not only other dogs but also various kinds of people – men, women, kids, senior citizens, and strangers. At around 16 weeks is often when your puppy enters a fear stage. You’ll want to create positive associations with new things that may be frightening to your puppy such as loud noises or other animals to foster a healthy, safe transition and assimilation to his new world.

Traveling with your new Puppy

Congratulations on your new puppy!

Your new puppy isn’t just entering your life; it will enter your heart and stay there permanently.

For the safety and care of the puppy, we have some tips and recommendations to ensure that your travel back home is a safe and happy one. 

  • Keep the puppy in the crate while driving
    • We know that it is exciting now that you have your little puppy, and there will be plenty of time for hugs and kisses when you are home. However, for the puppy’s safety, it is recommended to stay in the crate while driving.
  • Potty Breaks
    • Your puppy will need to take a potty break every 2-3 hours, depending on your drive time. We recommend that you find a safe area, away from any highways or congested areas. We do not recommend dog parks due to heavy dog traffic, and your puppy is still receiving their series of booster vaccines.
    • Place a secure collar or harness on the puppy and ensure it is tightened enough that the puppy will not slip out; you should be able to place just your index finger between the harness/collar and puppy.
    • Let the puppy walk around but always watch to make sure they don’t attempt to eat anything foreign on the ground.
    • This is also an excellent time to offer a bit of refreshing water, a small snack of their food, and some Nutri-Cal (a supplement). Use about a dime size portion.
    • After your puppy has had their potty break, we recommend that you take a baby wipe and wipe their feet before placing them back in the carrier.

 Your puppy has just had an exciting journey from its mom to its new forever home. It is not uncommon for them to be a little quiet or not overly excited to eat. Allow the puppy time to acclimate and understand that they are “home.” 

***Your puppy must start to eat and drink water within a couple of hours of being home, even if it is frequent small amounts. It is equally vital that Nutri-Cal is administered with the same feeding frequency, at least until you have taken your little one to your veterinarian. You can then consult with them for feeding and Nutri-Cal schedule.