Feeding What food
Choose a dry food intended specifically for puppies, avoiding generic foods and those that sell for unusually low prices. We suggest brand name puppy food because it is impossible to distinguish good dog food from poor dog food simply by looking at the ingredient list on the label. Many things that owners look for, such as high protein levels and extra vitamins, are as likely to be harmful than helpful. For example, overfeeding and over supplementation are factors contributing to hip dysplasia. If you have a large-breed puppy, purchase "large breed" puppy food. The actual formula is different, not just the kibble size, and is better for very rapidly growing puppies.
Offer food to young puppies three times a day. If your puppy isn't hungry that often, reduce the frequency. After ten or twelve weeks of age, feed twice a day. Even adult dogs should have their food split into morning and evening feedings. When fed once a day dogs become overly hungry and are more likely to overeat at mealtime. Let your puppy eat as much as she wants in fifteen minutes and then pick up the food dish. Having food continually available encourages overeating, and chubby puppies are more likely to have hip dysplasia and weight problems later in life. Also, because free-fed puppies never get very hungry, they don't enjoy their food unless given special treats. The combination of special treats and freely available food encourages them to become bored, overweight and picky.
Do not give people food. If you start with a balanced diet and add goodies from the table,
you won't have a balanced diet anymore, and your puppy will have more digestive
trouble. Treats that are reasonably balanced, such as Milk Bone Biscuits are OK, but
since they are not really all that great nutritionally, don't let them become an important
part of the diet. Canned puppy food is perfectly all right, but we usually suggest feeding
dry food because it is cheaper, easier to use, and better for the teeth.
Between six and sixteen weeks of age, puppies lose the disease protection they received
from their mothers and become able to form their own immunity to disease.
Unfortunately, we never know when this will happen, so there is often a brief period
when puppies have lost the disease protection they received from their mothers but
have not yet developed strong immunity of their own. Fortunately, new vaccines for
distemper and parvovirus are much more effective than what we had even two or three
years ago, and eliminate much of this problem. Also, since the new vaccines work better
we don't have to give as many, which saves money. Until your puppy is four or five
months old, try to prevent contact with stray dogs or sick dogs. Avoid boarding your
puppy or taking her places like highway rest stops where lots of other dogs go to the bathroom.
When we say "distemper shot" we are talking about a combination vaccine
(DAP) which protects against a group of diseases:
Infectious canine distemper (ICD) is a highly infectious viral disease that attacks the
lungs and affects the brain and spinal cord in somewhat the same way polio affects
Canine adenovirus type 2 (CAV-2) is a respiratory virus that causes a severe form of
Canine parvovirus (CPV) attacks the lining of the intestinal tract, and in very young
puppies, damages the heart. It remains our most common fatal infectious disease and
is the most difficult to protect against. Dobermans, rottweilers and boxer or bulldog type
dogs are especially susceptible.
Causes kidney and liver damage. The disease can affect any mammal, including people,
and is spread by urine contamination from infected animals such as raccoons, opossums,
rats, coyotes, foxes or other dogs. The newer leptospirosis vaccine protect against four
varieties of the disease. We do not recommend using the old Distemper/Lepto vaccines
that protect against only two varieties of Leptospirosis because they don't work against
the type of Leptospirosis seen most frequently in some areas.
Spread by animal bites or through the saliva of an infected animal, rabies is
always fatal. Because infected pets can give the disease to people, rabies
immunization is something you don't want to ignore. Rabies shots are started
at sixteen weeks of age, boostered a year later, and every one to three years
after that, depending on local laws and your Veterinarian's recommendation.
Unvaccinated dogs that come into close contact with a skunk must be
quarantined or put to sleep. Vaccinated dogs that have skunk contact should be
given a rabies booster as soon as possible, regardless of when they were last
Lyme disease spread by ticks,
Lyme Disease has become a significant human health problem because the disease is
difficult and expensive to diagnose with certainty; there have been few proven
cases in dogs. When Lyme disease is suspected, treatment is with antibiotics.
The dogs usually get better and we are seldom certain whether the condition
being treated was Lyme disease or something else. Dogs that roam in brushy
areas and get lots of ticks should be vaccinated. Those restricted to their own
immediate area and never get ticks probably don't need it. Immunization
is given as an initial series of two injections three weeks apart followed by
an annual booster.
Bordetella, a common cause of "kennel cough", is a severe but rarely fatal respiratory
disease. Because it spreads through the air in confined areas, kennel cough is common
even in clean, well run boarding kennels. If your dog will be at the groomer's frequently
or periodically left at a kennel, it is wise to protect against the disease. Most boarding
kennels require it. For dogs that don't need year 'round protection, the best time to
administer the vaccine is two to four weeks before going to the kennel.
Roundworms & Hookworms
Heartguard Plus and Interceptor, two new combination heartworm medications,
also kill common intestinal worms. By using either of these products, we
eliminate the need for routine fecal examinations and separate worming medications.
However, if your puppy has persistent diarrhea please take a small fecal sample
to your Veterinarian in order to check for other less-common parasites.
If you see little short white worms (1/2 inch long or less), these are probably tapeworm
segments. When the segments dry they look like grains of brown rice and may
stick to your dog's hair. If you see anything like this, let your Veterinarian know
and they will dispense medicine to use at home. Prescription tapeworm drugs
are extremely effective, very safe, and
cause no discomfort whatever. Non prescription tapeworm medications don't work very
well and often cause intestinal cramps and diarrhea.
Before dispensing medication, your Veterinarian needs to know your dog's
weight. If he is not extremely small or too large to lift, you can be sufficiently
accurate by weighing yourself with and without the dog. Otherwise, bring
him along. Your pet will be weighed to set up the correct prescription when you come in.
If the problem is discovered in time, heartworms can be eliminated, but
treatment is difficult, dangerous, and expensive. And even with treatment,
heartworms cause permanent damage. Although the treatment isn't nearly as
dangerous as many people seem to believe, regular testing followed by
treatment when needed is not a reasonable alternative to prevention.
Interceptor Chewable Tablets are recommended by many Veterinarians,
because they taste good and need to be given only once a month. In addition,
Interceptor kills hookworms, whipworms and roundworms, eliminating the
need for separate worming medications and routine fecal examinations.
It is important to use Interceptor every month without fail.
Dogs with heartworm disease ordinarily have adult male and female worms
living in the heart, and microscopic baby heartworms throughout the
bloodstream. Baby heartworms become adults only after living in a mosquito
and then getting into a dog when it is bitten by the mosquito. Because
we cannot detect heartworms until about six months after infection, we never
know for sure if puppies already have heartworms when we start them on
prevention medication. Although this is a concern, the risk of puppyhood
infection is small, and we can safely wait to perform an initial heartworm
test until about fifteen months of age, when rabies and distemper booster
vaccinations are given. After that, we encourage you to test every two years to
protect against the small possibility that a dose has been missed, or the
extremely small possibility that the medicine isn't working.