Things to do when you get a new Puppy

PuppyGirl Kate Whitney with Zoey and Honey
PuppyGirl Kate Whitney with Zoey and Honey

By: PuppyGirl Kate Whitney
June, 2011

Last month in my column, I wrote about my experience being a foster to rescued puppies. My hope was that my wonderful experience would encourage others to lend a hand and help this effort. Many of you did respond, and for that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

A few weeks ago, I took my puppy Dash, to the vets to get her final set of puppy shots. As I sat in the waiting room, I realized how important it is for people to remember to keep their pets up to date on routine shots and preventative treatments like heartworm pills and flea/tick products. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I think some people may need a little reminder. After the excitement settles of having your new pet, you are left with a lot of responsibilities, some of which can be pretty expensive. Please don’t think that because your cat will be kept indoors and will not be exposed to outdoor conditions or other animals, you don’t need to take him to the vet. And don’t think that just because your new puppy will be your only pet and will not come in contact with other dogs, you don’t need to take her to the vet. Every pet needs to be seen by a vet on a regular basis. And please, please, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that because your dog will not be in contact with other dogs it doesn’t need to get spayed/neutered. Please be a responsible pet owner and get your cats and dogs fixed.

Being a pet owner means that you will have many years of excitement and happiness. Don’t forget that in order to raise a happy pet, you as the owner need to provide love and discipline along with remembering to do things that will keep your pet healthy. Among other things, here are a few things that I thought were especially important to remember.

In order to provide the best life for your pet, you need to make sure that they will remain healthy and safe. Ask your vet about getting your pet on a preventative health care plan including heart worm pills (Heartguard is a good brand) flea and tick control (like Frontline), and all the necessary vaccines that are applicable to your pet depending on their age.

Try to keep your pet’s records in an organized type of book or folder. The easier you can reference their records and history, the easier it is to keep track of what they need. Bring this information with you every time you visit your vet so you can take notes and write down any information your vet might share with you.

When you first get a new pet, before you bring him anywhere, make sure to have a pet ID tag made. This is going to be the one thing that will bring you and your pet together again if by chance he happens to get lost. Another idea that is quite popular these days is to have your pet microchipped. A pet is microchipped by inserting a tiny chip under the skin. Each individual pet has their own number assigned to them. If ever lost, the vet or animal control officer who finds them can use a special scanner that can read the microchip. When the microchip is scanned, the ID number appears on the screen, the number is entered into the database, the pet’s ID info appears, then the pet’s owner is contacted.

Make sure to establish a close relationship with your vet. They are the ones who are up-to-date on new treatments and information regarding your pet. Be sure to discuss these very important things with your vet:

Spay/Nueter: PLEASE SPAY AND NUETER YOUR PETS! This is the number one thing that is going to help reduce the number of stray and unwanted dogs and cats and cut down the already too high number of puppies and kittens who are euthanized every day. Responsible pet owners get their pets spayed or nuetuered. This procedure should be done prior to adulthood, so make sure to discuss with your vet when the time is right.

Vaccinations: There are different vaccinations that are recommended depending on your pet’s age. Your vet will tell you what your pet needs, but be sure to keep an organized record of what vaccination your pet received, when your pet received it, and when your pet is due again for another vaccination.

Grooming: You should spend a few minutes each day grooming your pet. Check your pet’s eyes and use a soft damp cloth to wipe away any discharge that might be in the eye area. Next check their ears. Wipe out any build up with a damp cloth and be sure to make a note of anything that looks unusual. Make sure you don’t forget to trim your pet’s nails. You can buy a nail clipper at the pet store, or you can bring your pet to your vet or a groomer and have them do it. Monitor any changes you might notice with your pet, write down notes, and then contact your vet.

Diet: A healthy, balanced diet is absolutely necessary for your pet to reach it’s ideal weight, and to have correct brain and bone formation. Talk to your vet about what type of food is right for your pet. Some vets recommend a mix of wet and dry food, while others recommend just dry.

When you finally bring home your new pet, make sure it has access to water 24 hours a day. Try to find a heavy metal or ceramic bowl that will not be knocked over easily or chewed. Get a collar that fits. Please be aware of the size and don’t put something on your pet’s neck that is too tight. You should be able to slide two fingers easily between the collar and your pet’s body. And remember to upgrade the size of the collar as your puppy or kitten grows! Make sure you have a nice bed for them to sleep in every night. It’s important to make your new dog feel comfortable and safe. You may choose to purchase a crate or a comfortable bed, or both! I purchased a large crate and put a comfortable liner in it, and this is where my puppy sleeps for naptime or through the night. I also have a nice fluffy bed in the kitchen and living area that my puppy sometimes chooses to lay down on. I like to give her options, but I make sure that there is always a place for her to feel safe, protected and comfortable.

So, all in all, remembering to do these things will make for a happy and healthy pet. Please remember that owning a pet is a joyous time, but can also get expensive with food, vet bills, and accessories. As I finished up at the vets with Dash, I was reminded of this financial responsibility that comes along with having a pet…I got my bill. As I signed on the dotted line, I sighed a happy sigh. I was happy not only because I now was in-the-know with what’s going on with my puppy, but I was content on knowing that she was healthy.

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