It’s an exciting time when a puppy joins the family, but puppies need lots of care to grow up into healthy dogs. Follow these seven tips, and your puppy will be on the right path to wellness.
1. Choose a well-balanced diet
One of the most important things you can do to take care of your puppy’s health for life is to choose the right dog food. Our guide to dog food has a ton of answers, but remember that you can always ask your vet for help too. Don’t be afraid to switch dog foods if you haven’t found the right one, and be sure to follow these instructions for switching dog food. You should also keep in mind the people foods that dogs should avoid.
2. Get daily exercise
Your dog can suffer many of the same conditions as humans if they become overweight, such as joint strain, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. While any breed of dog can become overweight, some breeds are more susceptible than others. Check to see if your puppy is one of the seven breeds that are most prone to becoming fat. Make sure you get your puppy outside every day for a walk or a run, plus some play time.
3. Brush your puppy’s teeth
Regular brushing can prevent periodontal disease and even stomach problems. Cleaning a dog’s teeth regularly, starting in puppyhood, will help them (and you) adjust to the feeling and the routine. Learn how and how often to brush your dog’s teeth.
4. Keep your puppy well-groomed
Keeping your dog’s coat clean and brushed will help prevent skin conditions resulting from mats and tangles. Keeping tabs on the appearance of your dog’s clean coat may alert you to dullness, which can be a sign of a greater health issue. Bathe your puppy as needed, but preferably no more than once per month, or you risk drying out and irritating your dog’s skin.
5. Clean your puppy’s ears
Ear cleaning can be done at bath time, around once a month. Never go down into the ear canal, but gently wipe around the opening of the ear. While cleaning your puppy’s ears, look for signs of infection, which include odor, red skin, discharge or debris, and head shaking and scratching at the ears. Be sure your dog’s ears are dry after bathing, because wet ears can cause infection.
6. Take parasite prevention seriously
Run your hands all over your puppy every day to check for ticks and remove them as soon as possible to prevent Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases. Follow your vet’s advice to get your dog on regular heartworm and flea & tick medication. Become a member of PetPlus, the prescription plan for pets, to save up to 75% off medications, vaccinations, and vet bills.
7. Get your puppy vaccinated
Puppies should be vaccinated at around 6 to 8 weeks of age for distemper, canine parvovirus, canine hepatitis, and rabies. Talk with your vet about other vaccines they might encourage, and learn and obey your local laws regarding vaccines. Some states and areas of the country may have additional recommended vaccines.
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