How to Track Your Puppy's Health in the First Year
How to Track Your Puppy's Health in the First Year

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How to Track Your Puppy's Health in the First Year

Congratulations! You're the proud owner of a puppy. It's important to take steps now to ensure great puppy health. Louise Murray, DVM, director of the ASPCA's Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City and author of Vet Confidential (Ballantine, 2008), offers these pointers for your puppy's first year.

 

 

Puppy Health: Preventive Care

Talk to friends to find a veterinarian you can trust. Within a week of bringing your puppy home, take him for a checkup. The doctor will perform a physical and start keeping a detailed medical history.

 

 

Puppy Health: Vaccines

The overvaccination of pets is currently a hot topic, Murray says. The question is, however, not whether to vaccinate but which vaccines to use and how often. What she calls the "core vaccines"—those for parvovirus, distemper, adenovirus type 2, and rabies—are essential. "These shots protect your dog from diseases that are very real, very common, and very dangerous," she says. Additional vaccines may be necessary based on where you live, where you take your dog, and whether you travel.

 

 

Puppy Health: Diet

Choose a reputable brand of dog food and discuss your choice with your veterinarian. In his first year, your puppy will be on food that is specifically geared toward younger dogs and will likely eat three times a day rather than once or twice.

 

 

Puppy Health: Spay/Neuter

An excellent measure against pet overpopulation, this procedure ideally should be performed between ages 4 and 5 months, which is before a female dog goes into her first heat and before a male enters puberty. A female dog who is spayed before going into heat is 2,000 times less likely to get breast cancer, Murray says. Males who are neutered before entering puberty have fewer behavioral issues, such as aggression toward other dogs and urine marking.

 

 

Puppy Health: Flea, Tick, and Heartworm Medicines

Most dogs should be on medicine year-round to prevent heartworm, a life-threatening parasitic infestation, Murray says. Fleas, often seen as just an annoyance, can actually cause severe skin problems and even anemia. Ticks carry multiple diseases (including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever). Your veterinarian can prescribe effective preventives for these two problems.

  • Your Senior Dog’s Health from 7 Years On
    Your Senior Dog’s Health from 7 Years On

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    Your Senior Dog’s Health from 7 Years On

    Keeping Your Senior Dog Healthy and Active

    It depends on the breed of dog, but your pet's senior years generally begin at age 7. Louise Murray, DVM, director of the ASPCA's Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City and author of Vet Confidential (Ballantine, 2008), tells you what you need to know to keep your older dog spry and happy.

     

     

    Senior Dog Health: Preventive Health

    At this stage, Murray recommends taking your dog to the vet twice a year. "So much can happen to an elderly dog," she says. Your veterinarian can take blood annually to test liver and kidney functions. "Discovering problems early is extremely important," she says. Your vet can be on the lookout for conditions that often affect older dogs, such as anemia and arthritis.

     

     

    Senior Dog Health: Urination, Bowel Movements, and Appetite

    Pay attention to what might be subtle changes in your dog's habits: Is she drinking more water or urinating larger amounts? These behaviors might indicate a liver or kidney problem. Have your dog's bowel movements shifted? This could indicate a digestive issue. Diabetes or digestive problems might cause your dog to eat more but still lose weight. Knowing the dog's patterns can help the veterinarian determine a course of treatment.

     

     

    Senior Dog Health: Flea, Tick, and Heartworm Medicines

    Continue to use preventive medicines.

     

     

    Senior Dog Health: Dental Health

    Clean your dog's teeth daily. If she has tartar buildup, you might need to have her teeth professionally cleaned at your vet's office, which requires sedating your pet.

     

     

    Senior Dog Health: Exercise

    Your dog is probably less active, so steady, moderate exercise is best for her now. Don't turn her into a "weekend warrior" who, after lying around on weekdays, accompanies you on a 10-mile hike on Saturdays. This is especially hard on an older dog's joints.

     

     

    Senior Dog Health: Diet

    Your veterinarian might wish to put your dog on a senior diet, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Senior Plus. These formulations contain nutrients specifically geared toward older-dog health.

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