External parasites live on a dog’s skin. They not only cause irritation, but sometimes carry other diseases. As you groom your puppy, examine his hair coat for any evidence of parasites.
Fleas are tiny insects that feed on the blood of animals and create mild to severe discomfort. They cause itching and, if swallowed, can also transmit tapeworms. Fleas can hatch in a puppy’s bedding, carpets, furniture and outdoor areas.
To control fleas, the environment as well as the puppy must be treated. Special attention should be paid to the puppy’s sleeping area. It should be kept clean and the bedding washed frequently. In the house, thoroughly vacuum all carpets and crevices, under cushions, rugs and in the comers of upholstered furniture. Discard the vacuum bag because it may harbor fleas. Some flea control in the yard is possible through spraying.
Many preparations are available to aid in flea control. Be certain the label states that the product is safe for dogs and follow label directions. Your veterinarian can also provide advice about products for indoor control.
Ticks are blood-sucking parasites. A heavy infestation can cause anemia which can become serious enough to cause mortality in puppies.
The two most common kinds of ticks infecting dogs are the brown dog tick and the American dog tick, which also carry a number of diseases, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia.
Lyme disease is another infectious disorder transmitted by the deer tick. Lyme disease is becoming diagnosed with increasing frequency in the United States.
After walking your puppy in a wooded area or field, always check for ticks. If you must remove individual ticks from the puppy, extract them manually and be certain that the mouthpiece does not remain in the puppy’s skin. Remove the entire head and its mouth parts with tweezers or by the fingers protected with a paper towel, tissue or rubber gloves. Pull upward with a steady, even pressure. Do not twist.
Keeping a puppy’s environment clean at all times is an important factor in helping to prevent infestation with external parasites. Your veterinarian can recommend proper treatment for puppies who suffer parasitic infection.
Always follow your veterinarian’s recommendations and be sure to read and follow precisely the instructions on the label of any substance used in the prevention or treatment of external parasites.
The kind of dental care a dog receives over the years has a great impact on its health and longevity. The most common dental problems dogs experience result from plaque and calculus buildup. Food particles, bacteria and saliva may accumulate and adhere to the tooth surface, forming a soft plaque. If plaque buildup continues, solutions of chalk-like material form a hardened calculus on the tooth surface. If left unchecked, this buildup can eventually cause inflammation of both the gums and lining of the tooth socket.
Without proper treatment, the teeth eventually loosen and fall out. The infection resulting from these conditions may spread to other parts of the body such as the kidneys or valves of the heart.
In most puppies, deciduous ("baby" or "milk teeth") teeth fall out between four and seven months of age. If they do not, a veterinarian should be consulted concerning their removal. The retention of deciduous teeth may produce damage to the soft tissues of the mouth and may accelerate wear of permanent teeth.
During the time your puppy is losing his teeth, he may eat slightly less and tend to chew more. Hard rubber or rawhide toys made especially for dogs are a good investment to help prevent household damage during this time. Never give a puppy an old shoe or any other clothing item or household object to chew on, or he will think all shoes and other objects are fair game.
Accustom your puppy to having his teeth cleaned on a regular basis. His teeth may be cleaned with a soft cloth dipped in a solution of baking soda and water, or a child’s tooth brush could be used.
Do not use toothpaste formulated for humans because dogs swallow, rather than spit out the preparation, causing stomach upset. Veterinary toothpaste preparations are also available.
Dry crunchy puppy foods such as Purina & copy, Puppy Chow & copy; brand puppy food can be helpful in preventing dental problems. The puppy’s chewing action while eating a dry food tends to act like a toothbrush as particles scrape against the teeth to help remove plaque.
Importance of Neutering and Spaying Unless you plan a responsible breeding program and are certain you can place the puppies from such a program, neutering and spaying are recommended to avoid the serious problem of unwanted puppies.
Female puppies can be spayed at any time after six months of age. Spaying prior to the first estrus cycle helps minimize the risk of uterine infections and mammary tumors common in older unspayed females.
Neutering the male dog can be done at six months of age or any age thereafter. A neutered dog will be more content to stay at home and will not wander in search of females in season, making a better companion.
The possibility of neutering and spaying performed at earlier ages is under investigation at several universities.
Some people believe that when dogs are neutered or spayed they always become fat. If this is the case, it is usually because they are calmer and less active - and they overeat relative to their lower caloric requirement. In some cases, this might lead to obesity. A close monitoring of their diet (eliminating table scraps and, if necessary, reducing the amount of dog food offered) and regular exercise will help them maintain good body condition.
After you take your puppy to your veterinarian for his initial visit, work with your veterinarian to develop a program of periodic checkups and booster vaccinations. Regular veterinary visits can help prevent problems from occurring as well as keeping other small problems from becoming big ones. If your veterinarian is familiar with your puppy, he or she will be better prepared to respond to an emergency. Always keep the veterinarian’s address and emergency phone number handy.
Keep an accurate record of your puppy’s medical history. This can be useful in an emergency or when your regular veterinarian or the veterinarian’s record of the puppy are not available. This list should include dates and types of vaccinations, dates of surgery or serious illness, any known allergies and other health-related information. If you move to another city, such a medical record is extremely helpful to the new veterinarian. It’s also a good idea to obtain the medical file from the veterinarian before moving.
Because a pup or an adult dog cannot tell you how he feels, he can become quite ill before signs of illness become apparent.
Being aware of his usual behavior and noting his appearance provide a basis for evaluating his health on a day-to-day basis.
Puppy Proof for Safety
In addition to preventive health care for your puppy, he should be protected from potential safety hazards. Electric cords, for example, can be a hazard to the puppy and the family. To help prevent fires from resulting from a puppy biting into a cord, keep exposed lamp cords and other wires as short as possible. If extension cords must be used, tack them against a baseboard or run them under furniture so they cannot be played with or chewed. In addition to placing the household at risk, the resulting electric shock can be fatal to a puppy.
Pesticides, rodenticides, paint thinners, bleach, cleaning fluid, disinfectants, drain cleaner, moth balls, and detergents are among the many household chemicals which could prove poisonous to a puppy. They should be stored in tightly closed containers where the puppy cannot reach them.
Herbicides present a threat after the lawn has been sprayed with a weed killer. Keep your puppy inside or in a restricted area until the lawn is completely dry.
Antifreeze, containing the chemical ethylene glycol, is a frequel, form of pet poisoning. Many pets are attracted to its sweet taste and lap it up when spilled on the ground or improperly stored. Containers should be securely closed and stored in a place not accessible to your puppy. Make certain your puppy is not in the vicinity when antifreeze is being drained. Dispose of used material promptly.
Among the drugs that can be dangerous to puppies are overdoses of aspirin and the aspirin substitute, acetaminophen; ingestion of diet pills, sleeping pills and tranquilizers. These and any other drugs or any product with a label warning, "Keep out of the reach of children" should be kept out of the reach of your puppy as well.