Getting a new dog is exciting, sometimes confusing, and often times expensive, but planning and smart shopping can make the new addition of a dog to the home an easy transition. The best piece of advice is take it slow, watch your budget, and try not to let yourself stress about every little thing you could buy if you had a wad of cash in your pocket. Nothing is worse than getting stuck in the leash and collar aisle of the local pet wonder mart trying to decide what is better about the $18 collar compared to the $10 collar. Take it easy and start basic.
Yes your new dog is going to need to eat, so what is best when it comes to buying food. There are some wonderful foods on the market for growing puppies and adult dogs and many have exotic ingredients like pumpkin, blueberry’s and all kind of odd sounding roots and herbs. Do all these wonder formulas really help your pet live a healthy life ? Maybe?. Probably. What we do know is that there are pet food brands that “just make food” for your animal, but company profit and cost cutting measures mostly drives the choice of ingredients that make-up the formula, then there are pet food brands that truly care about the health of your pet, formulate their foods with good,natural ingredients and safe preservatives, and ultimately understand that truly caring about your companion animal will make them more successful company in the long run.
The reality is that premium foods like Wellness or Solid Gold are probably better for your pet, but they are more expensive, and ultimately what you can pay will determine what you can feed your pet. Not being able to pay large sums of money for pet food is not an indictment of how much you care for your new pet, it is simply a reality of life sometimes. By using sites like this or Dog Food Advisor, and doing your best research, you will find the best food you can within your price range. Just do the best you can do within your means. Here are some of the best foods we have found for good health and life:
[box type=”warning”] Dog Foods, How to Switch Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff When feeding your pet a new food, introduce it slowly. If you feed too much too soon, your pet could suffer from stomach upset, vomiting, excess gas, constipation, or diarrhea.
Intestinal Bacteria Play An Important Role.
Normal bacteria in the intestine help your dog or cat digest food. A sudden change in food can result in changes to the number and type of bacteria and their ability to help digest food. These changes can lead to intestinal upset. Therefore, your pet must be switched to a new food slowly. A Gradual Change is Best. We recommend switching to a new food gradually over the course of 7-10 days.
For example, make a mixture that contains 25% of the new food and 75% of the old food and feed that for three days. Then make it 50-50 for three more days, then 75% new food and 25% old food for three more days. If your pet seems comfortable with this progression, you can start feeding 100% new food. If at any time your dog or cat starts vomiting, has loose stools, or appears constipated, slow the rate at which you are switching the food. And as always, if problems continue to occur, consult your veterinarian.
If your new dog (new puppy or older adoption) has not been to the Vet in the last few months then it is time you made an appointment. Even if you have been told that your new dog has seen a vet recently, but it was before you bought or adopted them, then it is probably a good idea to take him/her in for a routine check-up and as a means to help them socialize and get used to the dreaded vet visit. If you do not have a Veterinarian that you see on a regular basis there are services that will help you find animal medical professionals. VetLocator.com is a website that will find vets in your local area. Vet Locator is also an excellent source for finding emergency Veterinarian services in an area around your home in case your pet needs medical attention when your vet is not open. Of course you can also look in the local yellow pages, use directory services on the phone, or do an internet search to find care for your new pet. The easiest and probably most effective way to find a trustworthy Veterinarian is to ask your friends and neighbors who they use. You will almost always get the best advice from the people closest to you. Do not be afraid to try a few Vet’s before you settle on the one that will become almost a part of the family and care the most for your new fuzzy friend
“After this, the veterinarian will begin to examine your puppy. He or she will begin by asking a variety of questions. These may include:
- How long have you owned your puppy?
- Where did you get him?
- What type of food is he eating?
- Are you having trouble with house training?
- How are you dealing with chewing?
- What type of toys does he play with?
- How is the puppy getting along with other family members, including other pets?The veterinarian may then discuss tips on behavior, training and feeding and try to answer your questions and give you general information on what to expect as your puppy ages. If your puppy is a purebred, your veterinarian may be able to discuss breed specific topics such as health issues and behaviors. The veterinarian will also discuss spaying or neutering your puppy and let you know when her clinic prefers to do the procedure as well as the advantages of spaying or neutering. The Physical ExamAfter talking about your puppy, the exam will begin. The veterinarian will check the following:
- The puppy’s eyes, ears and teeth to look for any abnormalities
- The skin for abnormalities, dry skin, fleas or ticks
- The abdomen for pain, enlarged organs or other abnormalities
- The belly button for an umbilical hernia
- The heart and lungs to detect any heart murmurs, irregular heart rhythm or harsh lung sounds. A stethoscope will be used for this.
- The joints for normal movement and the knee caps will be checked to make sure they are not loose.
- The genitals for discharge or abnormal developmentSome purebred animals have special concerns. For example, the bite is important in many different breeds. Some dogs have an underbite, while some have a very narrow nasal opening, a dome shaped head or an open fontenelle on top of the skull. There are various other breed specific items that your veterinarian will check out. VaccinationsOften, the puppy is first brought to the clinic when he is due for a vaccination. Puppies should be vaccinated beginning at six to eight weeks of age and every three to four weeks until 16 to 20 weeks of age. Sometimes, the breeder will have given the first vaccination and dewormer. The veterinarian will need to know when the breeder gave the vaccine so she can give the next dose at the appropriate time.Typically, the puppy is given one vaccination that includes vaccines against several different organisms, including distemper, adenovirus, parvovirus and parainfluenza. The puppy may also vaccinated against leptospirosis and/or coronavirus. In some areas of the country, Lyme vaccine can be administered.Parasite ProtectionThe veterinarian will also give a dewormer. Even if the stool sample is negative, nearly all puppies are born with roundworms so at least two doses of dewormer are recommended three weeks apart. Some veterinarians recommend dewormer every three weeks until the puppy has finished his series of puppy shots. When the puppy has reached at least 12 weeks of age, he can receive a rabies vaccination.Your veterinarian will likely discuss parasite prevention. This includes heartworm prevention and flea and tick prevention. Unlike adult dogs, puppies under 6 months of age do not need a heartworm test before beginning heartworm preventative. Young puppies can be administered ivermectin (Heartgard) if at least six weeks of age. Puppies can be administered milbemycin (Interceptor) if at least eight weeks of age. Nitenpyram (Capstar) can be administered to puppies over 4 weeks of age. Fipronil (Frontline) can be administered to puppies over 10 weeks of age and imidacloprid(Advantage) can be administered to puppies over 12 weeks of age.At the end of the visit, your veterinarian will let you know when you should bring your puppy back for additional vaccinations. Usually, this is 3 to 4 weeks later. This continues until your puppy is 16 to 20 weeks of age. At that point, the vaccines become annual. The puppy will likely need to visit the veterinarian to be spayed or neutered at around four to six months of age. Then, visits usually become annual until he reaches seven years of age, which is considered geriatric for most breeds. At that point, twice yearly visits are recommended.”
Nobody want to lose a pet, but sometimes it just happens. Pets can be stolen, lost on vacation, or just run out the front door or side gate when no one is looking. Proper identification on your pet will help you recover your lost friend if they do run away. The first line of recovering your pet is a name tag on the collar. the basic information you inscribe on the tag will help anyone that finds your pet get in contact with you. This information should include:
- Name of your pet
- Address of your home
- A phone number where you can be reached
You can also include you Veterinarians phone number if there is enough room on the I.D.Tag
The second most important means of identification for your pet is an Identification MicroChip embedded under the skin. A small RFID (Radio frequency Identification) micro-chip is implanted under your dog’s skin with no more pain than a common injection (good for cats too), and can be read by any chip reader carried by animal control officers, local animal shelters, or Veterinarians office. The chip is very small, about he size of a grain if rice, does not have a power source and will last the life of your pet. When a scanner is passed over the chip it reads a unique identification code that is then cross referenced to your pets information. Each chips code is unique. Each year thousands of pets are found, identified, and returned to their owners with the help of Identification Microchips; it is simply something that is worth the price you pay. Low cost Micro-chipping can be found in almost any city by calling a local animal rescue, ASPCA or SPCA, or even a pet super store like Petco or Petsmart. Low cost vaccination and low cost Spay and Neutering can also be found through this method.
Crating and House Breaking
Crating can be a controversial issue. I crate trained and continue to use crates for my dogs. My reasoning (as a multiple dog and cat owner) is simply this; my pets are safer and controlled when I use crates during certain situations. I will say that even though my pets do not seem to mind being crated I do have a certain degree of guilt when I close and lock the door on them, but I think the safety and security they provide outweighs my guilt.
Crates for house breaking.
The theory at work here is that a puppy or adult dog does not like to soil the area where it sleeps or eats. Many people use crates as a means of helping to house break a puppy by crating them overnight (when they cannot be watched) and when they can not be home (for short periods of time). By letting the pup out of the crate as soon as it wakes, and taking it directly outside, it teaches the new puppy that outside is where you use the bathroom. The theory continues that a dog will then begin to learn that leaving the crate and going straight outside (or on a pee pad) is the proper means and timing to relieve themselves. Using this method in conjunction with regular, hourly (or so) trips outside when you are at home should be enough to potty train your pet quickly. The problem with the theory is that until the age of 6 months a puppy’s bladder is not fully developed and they have little control over when they go. If your pet does relieve themselves inside the crate, depending on how you react and how often it happens, this can lead to a longer time to potty train and a lot of frustration, not to mention the anxiety or embarrassment your pet will suffer by having to sit inside the crate filled with urine or worse. So if you are going to use a crate (and again I do recommend them) it is best to use them in as short an interval as possible.
Crates for safety and control.
Outside of house breaking your pet by using a crate you can also use your crate for “den-ning”, travel safety, and bed time. The safety of my pets is my top concern and having the option to crate my dogs (away from each other and the cat) at times when I can not keep my eye on them is extremely comforting to me. Even though my pets are properly socialized and love people and other animals, if I have people over or workers at my home, I can keep my pets safe and sound in their “dens” when it is time for them to be out from under foot. When I need my front door open for unloading groceries or paying for a pizza, I can keep my pets safe from running out side. At night my pets sleep safely in their “dens” and I sleep sound knowing they are not getting into anything or chasing the cat. I am sure the cat appreciates the crates as well. On a side note – We live in Arizona and get scorpions in the house, using a Kuranda dog bed and our crates we keep our pets up off the ground and happily away from any scorpions that might crawl up to them while they sleep; of course this is purely situational and most people do not have this problem. If you do not use your crate as a long term babysitter and use them prudently and responsibly, your dogs will be safe and secure, and that is what is truly important.
The best rules when purchasing a crate for your dogs are:
- Do not get a crate that is too big or too small. The instruction on most crate boxes at the store give approximate sizing compared to the adult size of your dog.
- Your dog should be able to stand up, turn around, and have some space to move back and forth.
- Get a crate that your dog will grown into. Some crates have a removable center divider to use when your dog is small (to reduce space in the crate) and remove when they grow larger.
- Make your crate comfortable with a blanket, pad or pet bed. We use Kuranda dog beds for crates. make sure to monitor your pet for any chewing on bedding and remove/replace if they chew.
- Get a crate cover or throw a blanket over three sides. A crate is a secure “den” and your dog should only be able to see out the front. It makes them feel secure and safe to be in their den. When you cover the crate be watchful that your dog can not pull the cover through the crate, giving them an opportunity to chew the material and create a chocking hazard.
Collars, Leashes and Etc.
You will also need a collar that you can attach a pet ID to. Make sure the collar is not to snug. If you can put one or two fingers between the collar and you pets neck it is the right size. Use one collar for pet tags ( a simple rolled collar left on most all the time) and a separate harness or collar for walks. A quick, easily released collar is best in case you need to remove or put on quickly in an emergency, but do not buy one so easy to release that it might come apart when walking. Remember to check for correct sizing as your pet grows and do not let the collar dig into your pups neck.
Leash –Get a leash that is securely bound in stitching and comfortable to your hand if you have a big puppy. Expandable or pull out leashes are not recommended as dogs can pull to far out and are to hard to retract in an emergency, putting your pet in danger. A fixed length leash is preferable.
Toys – One toy at a time is a good rule. learn from your pets chewing tendencies and replace broken or overly chewed toys often. If your dog kills plushies and eats the stuffing, do not buy plushies. Squeakers are great until they are chewed out of the toy and swallowed. Kongs and other food puzzle toys are amazing time killers, but the treats placed inside may not fit into your pets overall diet needs. Again, one toy at a time and monitor your pets play tendencies. Always remember toys are not babysitters and any toy play should be watched for destruction and swallowing. We recommend that you stay clear of rope toys as dogs tend to chew then swallow the strands of rope that break off; this can cause serious damage to the intestines, sometimes even death. Also, if you can find something not made in CHINA it is probably safer (chemical wise) toy to buy; but good luck finding something not made in CHINA.
Just relax and have a happy healthy time with your new pup or older dog adoption.
for Pet Health and Life