Taking Care of Your Puppy's Health

Puppy Health

Giving Your Puppy a Pill

Step 1: Begin with a play session and praise to relax your puppy. Then get on the same physical level as your puppy. With a large dog, kneel next to him while he's in the sitting position; with a small puppy, place him on a grooming table or a countertop.

Step 2: Place one hand over the top of the puppy's muzzle as shown. Hold the pill in your free hand and then gently open his mouth with that hand.

Step 3: Place the pill in the center of the tongue as far back as you're able to reach. Then close your puppy's mouth and hold it shut while you blow gently but quickly at his nose. This will cause your dog to swallow before he has a chance to spit the pill out. Give him a treat immediately afterward to ensure that the pill has really been swallowed. End each session with play and praise.

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Finding a Veterinarian

Just like you, your new puppy needs high-quality health care. Before you run into any dog healthy issues, ask a friend or your local humane society to recommend a veterinarian, then choose one with these factors in mind:

  • Education and experience. How long has this veterinarian been practicing? Did he or she graduate from a respected veterinary college?
  • Specialty. In urban areas, you may find veterinarians who deal exclusively with the special problems of dogs and cats.
  • Location. Don't let it override education, experience and specialty, but nevertheless, location is important. A drive across town during a medical emergency could delay needed treatment.
Schedule a visit and interview

Once you've narrowed your choices, visit the veterinarian's office. Inspect the facility and talk to the doctor about your new puppy. If you like what you see and hear, arrange a time to bring your puppy in for an initial examination. It's a good idea to visit the veterinarian within the first three days after you bring your puppy home to make sure he's in good health. The veterinarian will probably check:

  • Stool. A fecal exam will reveal the presence of internal parasites.
  • Body. A head-to-tail physical exam includes inspecting your dog's coat and feeling his body for abnormalities, as well as checking the eyes, ears, mouth and heart and examining the anus for signs of intestinal parasites.
  • Once an exam is completed, your veterinarian can schedule immunizations and vaccinations and advise you on the importance of spaying and neutering.
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Spaying and Neutering

For most pet parents, the expense, time and expertise involved in breeding dogs responsibly is beyond their reach. Here are some advantages to having your puppy spayed or neutered:

  • For females, there will no longer be a mess to deal with during their 21-day heat cycles, which occur every six months. The heat cycle begins in females sometime after six months of age.
  • Spaying a female before her first heat cycle will reduce the chance of mammary tumors or uterine diseases.
  • Neutered males tend to be less aggressive than un-neutered males.
  • With a neutered male, the urge to mark territory may lessen.
  • A neutered male is less likely to want to roam in search of potential mates.
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When to Spay or Neuter

Dogs should be spayed or neutered by the time they are six months old to avoid many dog health issues. Both operations are performed under anesthesia and may require an overnight stay at the veterinarian's office. Recovery time is quick, with most dogs resuming normal activity in a few days. Spaying (for females) consists of an ovario-hysterectomy.

Neutering involves the removal of the testicles. When you bring your puppy to the veterinarian's office for his first thorough examination, have the doctor explain the operation in detail and set up a time to have the procedure done.

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Dealing With Fleas

The common flea not only causes your dog discomfort, it can also transmit disease, pass on tapeworms and cause anemia, especially in vulnerable puppies and older dogs. Regularly inspect your dog for any signs of fleas. Intermittent scratching, biting and gnawing, plus evidence of flea dirt between your dog's back legs or on top of his rump, are telltale signs of fleas. If your dog is constantly biting and gnawing himself or you can actually see fleas, you've got a full-blown infestation. To check out your dog for fleas, stand him in a bathtub and vigorously rub your hands through his fur. If little dark dots fall on the tub floor, they're likely either fleas or flea "dirt" (excrement). You'll know you've got fleas if the "dirt" turns red when you add a drop of water.

Flea Control Myths
  • Garlic and onion repels fleas. Feeding your dog garlic or onion will only give him bad breath. It will have absolutely no effect on fleas and, in fact, feeding large amounts of onion to dogs can be toxic.
  • Brewer's yeast repels fleas. There is no evidence that feeding your dog brewer's yeast repels fleas.
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Prescription Flea-Prevention Products

These products work by preventing fleas from biting or reproducing. They are the flea control methods of choice and, when used faithfully as directed, most pet owners report dramatic improvements in their pets’ condition and help avoid many dog healthy issues associated with fleas.

Read more about Puppy Food.

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