Puppy Health And Diet
Keeping you puppy fit and well is of utmost importance however there is a lot to think about. One point to keep in mind is just like humans it is much easier to stay fit and healthy than to try to get that health and fitness back once you have lost it. So put a little bit of time in and spend the extra money where you can providing the best food and exercise because in the long run it will pay off.
Food and Water:
When you get your new puppy home it is best to stay on the same food that he has been eating before you got him at least for a few days. Then you should ween him over onto his new food over the course of a week – there is no rush. Never make any sudden changes to a puppy’s diet or it can cause diarrhoea and stomach problems. There is so much discussion about what is the best food to feed puppies and dogs from organic and raw food diets to premium commercial brands. It is safest to start off your puppy with a good commercial puppy formula from a vet or pet shop, this will provide your puppy with all that it needs in the early months and then you can look to branch out into something a little more adventurous when it is older. I vary my dogs feed including some top quality organic commercial feed, some premium standard feed, raw meaty bones and some good old home cooking!
How much to feed your puppy/dog
The best test for how much to feed your dog or puppy is done by how your dog or puppy is looking. This is because there are hundreds of breeds and sizes of dogs and they all vary! However here are some guidelines. If you are in doubt then take your dog or puppy to the Vet.
- You should not be able to see any of your dogs ribs – there should be a good covering over them. However if your puppy has a thick coat on then it will be hard to tell.
- Dog food manufacturing guidelines are usually a little bit on the heavy side so do not worry if your puppy doesn’t eat all that they are recommending.
- If your puppy is leaving food then the chances are he is not hungry or he is playing the Golden Rule No.1. So remove the bowl immediately, this will stop any grazing behavior and your puppy will start to eat properly.
- If your puppy eats all its food and is looking for more – and is very active and not fat – then consider increasing the amount you feed him by a small amount and monitor the change.
- Grazing puppies who leave their food are still usually hungry. They are choosing to try to control the food rather than eat it and will not consume as much in the long run unless you start to take it away immediately. Then they start to eat it all up and stop playing games 🙂
How many times to feed your puppy/dog
0 -6 months you should feed 3x per day
6 months – 2 years old you should feed 2x per day
2 years – 7 years old you can cut back to one feed per day however I am sure that your dog appreciates 2!
above 7 years old you should definitely consider going back to 2x per day so it is easier for your dog to consume all the food in one sitting
Be very careful of any bones around dogs especially puppies. The danger is that they swallow them and they will become lodged in the airways. Always check that the bones will not splinter and have no sharp corners on them The best bones to give your dog or puppy are ones that are too large and strong for them to break.
Apply Golden rule no.1
When feeding remember Golden rule no.1 it still applies even to puppies. Once your puppy walks away remove the bowl until its next scheduled feed.
Vary your dogs meal times
This way you give your puppy the message that you make all the decisions, you provide the food and decide when you eat, this is a very powerful message.
If your puppy gets too excited when the food bowl comes out simply put the bowl down on the side until your puppy is calm. Then place it on the ground and walk away leaving your puppy alone to eat. However immediately remove the bowl if she walks away and leaves food in the bowl!
Always leave water down for your puppy or dog, there is nothing worse than thirst and it can set in very quickly especially during hot weather. If your puppy is put in a crate, outside, or in a time-out room then make sure there is water available there as well.
Do not feed your puppy between meals unless it is training and never feed your puppy from the table – or you will regret it!
Medical check up:
It is recommended that within a few days of bringing your puppy home you take him for a complete medical check up. This way you can be sure that all is well and that his sleeping during the day is because he is tired and not sick!
Spaying and Neutering:
It’s also very important that you get your puppy all his shots at the right stage of life, the best way to make sure that this takes place is to ensure that your puppy is on a comprehensive vaccination schedule. Contact your nearest Vet and talk to them about exactly what your puppy needs and when. This will partly depend on where you live and the type of vaccinations used. There are many serious illnesses that your puppy can pick up including Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus and Leptospirosis. To prevent this from happening precautions are taken before coming into contact with other dogs and before going out onto the streets. Kennel Cough is very similar to the human flu and can spread very quickly amongst dogs and puppies. With all these diseases and illnesses there is no highly efficient medicine so prevention is the best cure……get your puppy vaccinated!
Vaccinations are usually started at around a month and the course should be completed by 3 months of age. Sometimes a booster is required if you are traveling abroad or wish to put your dog into kennels. After you have been to the vets for your vaccinations you should be issued with a little book that confirms what your puppy has been given and the date of administration. Keep this safe as you may need it in the future.
The two main parasites that dogs and puppies will pick up are worms and fleas. Both parasites have numerous forms and again prevention is far better than cure.
If your puppy is eating lots but not putting on any weight then she could well have worms, if your puppy is scratching excessively then it could be fleas. Talk to your vet about using a recommended flea and worm product that will prevent both of these unpleasant parasites coming into yours and your puppies life! Later on if you are in doubt contact your vet immediately.
Warning: Never use dog flea treatment on cats as it is extremely dangerous to cats
Other signs of trouble:
- Loss of hair
- Reddening of the skin
- Red rings
- Grey lumps hanging off your dog (blood sucking ticks)
- Discharges from the ear
- Weeping eyes
- Strange behavior such as lethargy or not wanting to move
As you can see dogs in many ways are like humans…..they can go wrong in all sorts of ways
In all cases, contact your Vet immediately – don’t take the chance that your dog will just pull through.
Check your dog regularly:
You should be checking your dog thoroughly to see if there are any abnormalities, sores or lumps. If you don’t look you won’t see them!
From a young age make sure that your dog is used to you inspecting all parts of his body, if you leave it until your dog is much older then they may suddenly find it strange having something done to them that has never happened before. Use calm energy and make it enjoyable with a massage at the end. Here are a few things to check over on your puppy.
- Check in between your puppies paws for redness. Most dogs don’t like their paws being touched but it will help if it happened when they are young and they grow used to it.
- Look inside your puppies ears to see if there is any build up of discharge or redness.
- Being able to look inside your dog’s mouth is something to practice from a young age and may one day be critical. Recently I noticed my dog had a fish-hook stuck through her lip that she had found on the beach however she allowed me to take it out. Whilst holding her mouth open with one hand I was able to easily inspect inside her mouth and remove it with the other. I was grateful that I had practiced since she was a puppy opening her mouth and checking inside it.
Many people consider insurance to be a wise choice however like human insurance there are things to be weighed up.
How much is too much exercise?
Again this is a difficult topic to give an exact figure as every dog is different. However here are some guidelines and things to consider.
- Too much exercise can damage your dogs joints irreversibly, especially in large breed dogs
- Puppies do not know what is best for them so they will keep on running and playing long after they are doing damage
- Puppies will play on through the pain
- Softer ground such as grass and sand is better than hard concrete for walking on
- If your puppy keeps sitting down then this is definitely a sign that you have walked too far
- Take a break at a park bench, what does your puppy do? If she sits down with you then she is probably exhausted!
- In the wild puppies will not drop back and lose the pack, they will do anything to keep up in the fear that they will be left behind, so of course your puppy keeps walking!
- In the wild puppies do not really go out on the hunt until they are nearer 6 months of age