Bringing Your Puppy Home, Part Two
When you decide to bring a new puppy into your home, one of the first things you should consider is the must-have gear to care for a puppy. Here’s a quick list of necessities with some details about each to get you started.
First and foremost, your new puppy will definitely want to eat! Food and water bowls are essential. There are several options out there, and to help you decide which is best for your new family member here are a few facts about each.
- Stainless steel is a non-porous material and bacteria can’t seep into the surface, making it an ideal choice for food bowls. They may not come in a wide range of colors, but they are quick and easy to clean. Stainless steel also resists rust and other stains, making it a great choice for long lasting dog bowls. Toss them in the dishwasher for a quick clean, or if needed you can use bleach and other disinfectants without damaging the bowl.
- Ceramic bowls are heavy and make a great choice for dogs that like to tip over bowls, scoot them around on the floor, or pick them up and parade around the house. They come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes but, without a proper glaze on the bowl, ceramic can harbor bacteria and is not easily cleaned. Be sure to look for a bowl labeled food safe and lead free. If your ceramic bowl gets cracked, go ahead and toss it and purchase a new one. Bacteria will find it’s way into the scratches and grow.
- Plastic bowls aren’t the best choice for your new family member. Plastic is not a very durable material and can scratch or be chewed easily. Bacteria will hide in those scratches and thrive. They are the cheapest option, but you’ve already committed to the best care for your new puppy, so shell out a few more dollars for a better food and water bowl.
Puppy food is a vital part of this equation. Without a good well-balanced food formulated for your puppy’s needs, they can’t grow up to fulfill their greatest potential. If you have a large breed puppy you will want to seek out a food specifically formulated for large breed pups. These foods are created with the bones, muscles, and fast growing tendencies of these dogs in mind. The same principle applies to smaller breeds.
When purchasing puppy food be sure to choose one with DHA (Docosahexaenioc acid). DHA is a natural omega-3 fatty acid that is essential brain development and function in young mammals. The primary source of DHA for puppies is originally the mother, but just like human babies, your puppy’s brain continues to develop after birth. This makes DHA essential to your new puppy’s diet. The benefits are endless and studies have proven the importance of DHA for trainability of puppies. You can read more about the studies conducted by Hill’s Pet Nutrition and The Iams Company by following the links below.
The next essential item your puppy needs is a crate. He will spend a good amount of time in his new “den” as puppies need their sleep and a safe refuge from the chaos of everyday life. Appropriate size crate is a must. To find the right size here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:
- Choose a crate that is just large enough that your puppy can stand up and turn around. One main purpose of the crate is house training and the size is important because of the dog’s natural instinct not to soil his den. If the den is too large, they might eliminate in one area, and sleep in another. To do away with the need to purchase several crates as your dog grows, companies have developed crates that you can purchase to fit the adult size of your dog, and block the excess area with a divider. These are great options, just remember to block off an area just large enough for your puppy to stand up and turn around.
- When you go shopping for a crate you will see several options including plastic, metal, and the collapsible fabric kennels. Keep in mind that the primary use of the crate at this time will be for house training, so you can rule out the fabric crates. The wire metal crates are a good option to have in a busy area of your home because the dog can be a part of their surroundings. A crate is also a place of refuge to a puppy, a safe haven, and a place to “get away from it all” when they need some alone time. Plastic crates are great for this purpose. Puppies will learn to feel secure and comforted while in their new “den.” Of course, the first couple of nights your puppy will cry in their crates. This is not because they don’t like their new dens; it’s because this is likely the first time they have been isolated from their mom and litter mates. It’s a great idea to place their crates in your bedroom so they feel like a part of their new family.
Although your puppy might not wear a collar full-time, it’s a great idea to have a collar and leash for safety. If you are taking your puppy out to the bathroom in a public area you will want a way to keep him safely near you. Be sure to select a collar that isn’t too heavy for him. One of my favorites is a soft nylon collar. They come in a ton of colors and are easy to clean should your puppy decide to play in a mud puddle!
The final and most important essential you will need when welcoming your new puppy into your home is a trusted veterinarian. You are likely bringing your puppy home at seven or eight weeks of age, so they have already had their first round of vaccinations. Each veterinarian might have a slightly different protocol regarding the timing of vaccinations, but most of the time your puppy’s next round will be at nine weeks of age, then 12 weeks, and the final round at 16 weeks.
There’s a very good reason for putting your puppy through so many rounds of shots. Puppies are born with natural immunities and continue to receive antibodies from their mother’s milk. This begins to diminish between five and eight weeks of age and continues to decline until 12 to 16 weeks of age. If your puppy still has a significant level of maternal antibodies when vaccinated, it won’t be effective. As the natural immunity dissipates, vaccinations begin to trigger the immune system to produce it’s own antibodies.
Go ahead and schedule an appointment for your new family member before picking him up. Be sure to get the vet records for your pup from the breeder or rescue organization and take them to your appointment with you. Together with your veterinarian you can create a plan to ensure your puppy gets the care he needs through vaccinations, micro chipping, and heartworm and flea and tick preventatives.