Following are AdobeDogs's basic guidelines for your puppy's care. Always follow up with your puppy's veterinarian if you have further questions; remember all puppies are indiviuals.
Feeding your puppy-All of the veterinarians I know, seem to agree that most people overfeed their puppies. Itís easy to do, especially when they eat as fast as Labs. Many Lab and Golden puppies donít really seem to eat; itís much more like they vacuum the food into their stomachs. Itís not really natural for dogs to have their food come to them in a bowl and most puppies do eat way too fast. You can slow them down by feeding them in a larger area (like the back lawn or the whole kitchen floor) or by putting a plate or LARGE river rock in his food bowl, or by feeding from one of the many new toys available for dispensing treats and food. If you choose the rock method, itís imperative that the rock be WAY too large for him to eat, even as an adult.
As for foods, the amount on the back of the bag is WRONG! ALWAYS. Many people are feeding very high quality, highly digestible foods that are very calorie-dense. What all of those terms mean is you need to feed far less for your pup to get the right amount of nutrition. If a puppy is having more than 3 bowel movements a day, he is almost certainly eating too much. If his stool is loose or paste-like, he is probably eating too much. If he has a cute, hanging belly more than 2 hours after eating, heís eating too much. If you canít EASILY feel, with the flat of your hand, his ribs, just behind his shoulders (yes, he has ribs there) heís eating too much. Why care? Well, dogs that are fat as puppies are far more prone to crippling orthopedic problems as they mature. Everything from painful ďgrowing painsĒ to bones that form pieces that break off into their joints requiring expensive and imperfect surgery.
Large breeds should be fed a low protein food (24% or less) to discourage rapid growth, which can result in the same painful conditions mentioned above in addition to increased incidents of Hip and Elbow Dysplasia. Itís much better to keep your puppy lean than to take the chance that he could be crippled permanently because of too much food.
Itís impossible to say exactly how much a puppy should eat. But every few weeks, they need to eat more. Puppies grow astonishingly fast. They will often double their weight from 8 to 12 weeks, 12 to 16 weeks and then again from 16 weeks to maturity. A lean puppy is not the same as a thin puppy. Make sure your puppy is gaining weight appropriately and that you increase his food volume in proportion to his weight gain.
Here are some VERY general, feeding guidelines for VERY average puppies. Remember that the number of calories in the food you are feeding, will change the amount you feed. The amounts below are based on an average dog food with approximately 350 k/cal per cup. This information is often NOT on the bag of food. You may have to call the manufacturerís ď800Ē number to find out how many calories per cup of your puppyís food.
A 16 week old, 4 pound Pomeranian puppy should be eating 2 tablespoons or so of an adult dog food 2-3 times per day. This puppy, at 8 weeks, probably ate a tablespoon per feeding.
An 8 week old Lab or Golden puppy should be getting a half cup or so of adult dog or large breed puppy food 3 times a day. The same puppy, at 12 weeks may be getting three quarters of a cup of food 2-3 times a day and at 16 weeks probably close to 3 cups of food total per day (in 2 feedings).
A 6 pound, 8 week old puppy could be getting ľ-1/3 cup of food per day; the difference would be that a pudgy puppy would get the lower end of the scale.
A Mastiff puppy, at 16 weeks old may be getting 3-4 cups of large breed puppy food or adult dog food per day. There is evidence that breaking this into 3 meals per day may reduce the chances of him getting Bloat (see below) later in life.
The most important thing is that if you have worries that your puppy is getting too thin, feed more! Then ask your Vet right away. Keep your puppy healthy and sound by keeping him lean and fit. Remember that most of your neighbors have no idea what a healthy weight looks like; they may tell you your puppy is too thin, but trust your Vet. At our practice, as many as 8 out of 10 dogs we see are moderately to severely overweight and many of their owners arenít even aware of it!
Bloat- Bloat is when a dogís stomach swells with food or gas then flips over twisting and sealing off the intestine and esophagus so nothing can get in or out. The stomach will continue to swell, stretching blood vessels so tightly that blood flow is dangerously restricted. If untreated within a couple of hours, the result is often fatal.
Bloat is a condition most often seen in large, deep chested, narrow waisted dogs like Irish Setters, Standard Poodles, German Shepherds and Great Danes. It is most common in dogs over 4 years old and the risk increases with each year of age. Bloat is included in this puppy handout because the way a puppy is fed MAY affect his risk of Bloat as an adult. It is important to avoid feeding large meals to a puppy of a breed that may be at risk. Talk to your Vet if you are unsure about your puppyís future risk. We donít know exactly what causes Bloat but when it happens it is life threatening in a very short time.
New research indicates that feeding dogs large meals once a day may contribute to the chance of Bloat by stretching the ligaments that support the stomach. Exercising with a full stomach may cause the same thing. We know that Bloat is more common during stress like thunderstorms or 4th of July fireworks. We have learned that feeding a dog from an elevated platform will INCREASE the risk of Bloat. If you have more questions, speak with your Vet or ask for our Bloat handout.
Parasites and Deworming- Many Vets are divided on the subject of deworming. Some feel that it shouldnít be done unless a stool sample tests positive and some feel it is imperative to routinely deworm all puppies. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a deworming schedule that is frequent and thorough. Many of the parasites found in most of the country can be communicated to humans and the CDCís job is to protect people.
If your puppy has worms, they should be able to be identified by looking at a prepared sample under a microscope. In our area we most commonly see Roundworms and Coccidia. Other parasites that affect puppies in our area are Tapeworms, Giardia, and Spirochetes. Usually, the parasites that cause diarrhea are NOT visible on a routine microscopic stool screening. If your puppy has diarrhea, talk with your Vet before bringing a stool sample, as he or she will probably need to make a special slide to look for the little beasts that cause it.
Other areas of the country have problems with Hookworms and Whipworms. If your puppy comes from the south or the Midwest, let your Vet know so we can be aware of the different possibilities.
Tapeworms and Roundworms can be visible to the naked eye. Tapeworms look like little grains of rice and may be visible ON fresh stool. Maggots are often confused with Tapeworms by pet owners but
are NOT a parasite of the dogís GI system. Maggots are IN the stool that has been on the ground for a couple of hours and Tapeworms, again, are ON fresh stool. Tapeworms can also stick to the hair around the bottom and may dry to tiny, yellow-to-brown-dried-out-ricey-looking things. Roundworms are long, thin, spaghetti-looking things that may be visible in stool or vomit. Neither worm is a huge deal to the puppy. It is NOT an emergency. Itís really gross, but not an emergency. You can bring a sample of the worms or a really good description works, too. We need to have seen your puppy in order to prescribe medication.
Vaccinations- All puppies need to be vaccinated against Distemper, and Parvovirus. UC Davis recommends that these vaccines be given at 6-8, 9-11 and 12-16 weeks of age. While some puppies may attain immunity at 12 weeks, the Vets at Adobe agree that it is safest for most puppies to be treated as though their immunity is incomplete until they have received their final puppy vaccine at 16 weeks.
Parvo is a virus that can affect all dogs but puppies are at the greatest risk. It causes severe diarrhea, lethargy, lack of appetite, and vomiting. Without aggressive treatment it is almost always fatal; even with treatment, some puppies may die. This is the disease we worry most about in our area. Parvo can live in dirt for years and a puppy can get it just by walking through a contaminated area. For this reason, we recommend your puppy not be taken to unpaved public areas until his immunity is complete. Avoid schoolyards, dog parks and fields that other dogs frequent. When you take your puppy for a walk, keep him away from areas where other dogs go potty. Itís also critical that you keep him away from dogs that have recently been in a shelter, or a boarding kennel, or a puppy that has been shipped in from anywhere.
Even puppies with incomplete immunity are in need of socialization; we recommend that once your pup has had his 2nd set of vaccines or at 10 weeks old, (depending on your Vetís comfort level), you start taking him places to meet people and well cared for dogs. Walking your downtown area is good as are many Malls. I recommend finding a home improvement store or video store that will welcome your little social butterfly. The more people, noises and sights you can expose him to at this young age, the better.
Once a puppy has completed the series of vaccines, he wonít need another vaccine for a year from the last vaccine. That set should be good for at least 3 years. Adobe does NOT recommend yearly vaccines after the initial one-year booster.
A Rabies vaccine can be given after your puppy is 16 weeks old. Once he has been vaccinated he can be licensed with your city animal control. You should ask them if waiting to license until after your pet is spayed or neutered is beneficial. Many cities offer substantially lower fees for altered pets.
If your puppy will be exposed to livestock or areas frequented by wild mammals (including Sea Lions), you should discuss the Leptospirosis vaccine with your Vet. Leptospirosis is an often-deadly disease that can be communicated to humans. This vaccine should be given only to dogs over 12 weeks of age, as it has been associated with more severe post vaccine reactions (including anaphylaxis) than other vaccines. Adobe only uses the vaccine most likely to cover the strains found in our area. We NEVER recommend it as part of a ďcomboĒ vaccine. Most suburban dogs should not receive this vaccine but hunting dogs and ranch dogs are at higher risk and should be vaccinated before the rainy season. The vaccine is between 50 and 75% effective, but in a disease like this, every little bit helps. This vaccine WILL require yearly boosters if the dogís lifestyle remains the same.
Heartworm Prevention- Adobe ran a low cost screening for Heartworm Disease (HWD) in the winter of 2004. We ran over 400 Heartworm tests, mostly on dogs and cats we considered at higher risk. For example, dogs NOT on a preventative and living in areas with documented cases of HWD in Coyotes. In all of the testing, we came up with one positive. One. And that dog came to the Bay Area from a known Heartworm area in the Sierra foothills. Our conclusion has to be that while we canít guarantee it will never be a problem, itís not a problem right now.
That said, if your dog is the one to get the rare case of HWD in this area, your dog has a very serious, life threatening, disease which requires expensive, serious and dangerous treatment and it could have been prevented by giving a simple, safe treatment once a month. We know that HWD is getting closer. We see occasional cases. Itís a completely preventable disease.
Some important things to know about HWD:
∑ Itís transmitted in the bite of a certain type of mosquito.
∑ The mosquito MUST have already bitten an infected animal in order to transmit it.
∑ It takes 6 months after infection to show up on a test. If you miss a month and youíre nervous, continue the preventative and test in 6 months.
∑ The heartworm preventative actually works to kill the baby worms your dog was exposed to in the month BEFORE you give the preventative. In other words, it doesnít do any good to give the preventative before you go to an active HW area. You need to give it afterward, so it can kill any of the little buggers that got in there.
∑ Some Collies are sensitive to large amounts of the active ingredients in Heartworm preventatives. If you have a Collie or Collie-type dog be sure to discuss the best preventative with your Vet.
Exercise- All puppies need lots of exercise. Left to their own, they would play and explore for 30 or 40 minutes, then collapse and take a nap. Then they wake up and go potty, and start the whole cycle over again. Puppies need naps, too. Otherwise youíll end up with a crazy, destructive and hyper puppy.
Exercise can come in the form of playing fetch, playing with friendly, healthy dogs of a similar size, swimming, gentle jogging and leash walking. No puppy should be let off leash in an unconfined area until he is old enough to know not to lose you and to come to you if he gets frightened. Many puppies run away when theyíre scared and that can be very dangerous.
For large and giant breed puppies, exercise should be steady and mostly straight lines. No quick turns and spins. Make sure most of their footing provides good traction so they can keep their feet under them. Donít let big puppies jump from trucks without you supporting their landing. This may help prevent some elbow and shoulder injuries.
Training- All puppies need training. The sooner the better! Adobe offers one on one training help as well as an excellent puppy book. We encourage all puppy owners to sign up for a puppy socialization class as soon as they know theyíre getting a puppy. Puppies will be welcomed into class as young as 10 weeks of age. Puppies over 18 weeks at the start of class will be too old. Itís a very short window of opportunity and itís critical to use this time to our best advantage.
Good puppy classes are really socialization classes for the puppies. They need to learn that there are dogs of all shapes and sizes and that while they may look different, the social rules still apply. Puppies in these classes will continue to perfect their bite inhibition skills and learn to speak dog more fluently. You will learn more about housetraining, manners and typical puppy raising problems. Itís a great way to catch behavior problems early and figure out the best way to address them.
Grooming- All puppies need grooming; whether they have long hair or short, they all need to learn to accept being groomed. Most puppies do best if you start them with a baby (human) brush. They are very soft, wonít pull long or curly hair and wonít scratch skin. MOST puppies will try to bite the brush as if itís a toy and may get your hand in the process.
One, really easy way to make your puppy behave and be still is to give her something wonderful to eat like some peanut butter smeared very thinly on a plate. Let the puppy start licking the peanut butter and if she turns to bite the brush, take the peanut butter and yourself away. Try again in 10 minutes or so. A few repetitions are all it will take to keep her attention on her peanut butter and off of the brush. When she is getting really good at it, start giving her the peanut butter after a minute or two of brushing. Start making the peanut butter appear later and later in the session. Your puppy should learn that being polite and patient will pay off.
The long run- This guide should help you get through the early months. Get a good trainer and use her/him. Most dogs are ďrehomedĒ (gotten rid of) at between 5 and 24 months. Thatís when their adolescence makes their owners think they are ďbad dogsĒ. Be patient and consistent and ask for help if you need it. Dogs that have never been ďbadĒ a day in their life can act like maniacs all of a sudden in adolescence. Donít worry. Increase exercise and supervision and work with your trainer. Your puppy will grow out of it. Keep working, and have fun. Youíll end up with your perfect dog.