Bringing home a new puppy is an exciting day for everyone involved. Being unprepared for your new pal can lead to trouble. The goal of this guide is to prepare you for the journey you are about to embark on.
A dog is a man’s best friend. A lot of people might disagree with this age-old saying, but they are mostly cat people, so their words don’t really count for us dog lovers, right?
Dogs are great. They serve as excellent companions in life. They are loving and loyal. They are brave and smart. Basically, all you will ever hope to have in a human friend, such as honesty and sincerity, you can easily find from a dog because they are kind spirits by nature.
If you are reading this guide, we think it is safe to assume that you are planning to get a dog companion of your own. It all starts by adopting a puppy. But, as they say, with a cute and cuddly puppy, comes great responsibility.
Unfortunately, a lot of people who get any kind of pet—whether that be a cat or a dog, a hedgehog or a snake—seem to forget that getting one also entails a lot of hard work. You need to prepare your home for them, set aside a budget for their food and medical needs, and get them toys as you would your kids. In fact, some would even say that that is precisely what they are. They are going to be your kids; you are going to be a pet parent.
So, if you don’t prepare yourself for the responsibility, you would end up with a pretty lonely pet—one that is sickly and weak. And you don’t want such a sad life for your own dog, do you? Hence, before we move on further into this eBook, let us first ask ourselves: are we truly ready to let a puppy into our lives?
Things to Consider Before Adopting Your Puppy
To help you out with your problem, here are a few questions you can ask yourself to check if you are indeed ready to adopt a puppy:
1. Are you ready? This is a huge question that encompasses a lot of smaller ones, such as: are you ready for the commitment? Do you have time to take care of another creature? Adopting a pet is pretty much like adopting a child in that it also takes the same amount of commitment as getting one.
Taking care of a pet is a long-term thing. The average lifespan of a dog, for instance, can take 10 to 15 years. Some dogs even live for two decades! So, you can’t decide to get one now, then flake after a few years because you don’t have time for your pet anymore.
2. Do you have the budget? Veterinary expenses are very high. A regular check-up for your pet might even cost higher than yours. Not to mention that there will be other expenses as well, such as food, home, accessories…do you have the money to invest in all the dog’s future needs?
3. Do you have adequate space? How big is the dog breed you are thinking of getting? Will he fit inside your home? Will he have enough space to play and run around in your home?
4. Finally, do you want to adopt a puppy? Or would you rather adopt a rescued dog from the center? Have you done all the research necessary about the dog you want to get?
But don’t you worry if you haven’t done enough research yet, because that’s exactly how we’re going to help you right now. In this guide, we are going to provide you with all the necessary information you need before taking a puppy home.
Chapter 1: Making Your Home Puppy-Friendly
The first thing you need to do before taking a puppy home is to prepare your home. A puppy is curious and unruly, and there might be certain hazards that can put him in harm’s way if you don’t puppy-proof your home beforehand.
Not sure how? Well, this entire chapter is dedicated to just that.
How to Puppy-Proof Your Home
Before we start puppy-proofing, though, let us first get one thing straight—it doesn’t follow that a baby-proof home is a puppy-proof home as well. Puppies, for instance, have a very keen sense of smell; definitely more sensitive than a baby’s. And there are a lot of plants that are not toxic to us but are rather deadly to your dog. Thus, allow us to list down five helpful tips in puppy-proofing your home.
Tip #1: Get a reliable trash bin
Your trash bin must not be something your puppy can easily open and explore. As what we have already mentioned above, there are a lot of things that can prove toxic to your puppy (such as xylitol found in gum) and things that can easily choke him (such as bone or balls of paper). In fact, the trash bag itself might suffocate him. Hence, make the trash bin inaccessible for your little friend.
Tip #2: Put wires out of the way
Here’s another thing that can prove deadly to your puppy—electricity. With babies, all you really need to do is to purchase an outlet cover. But with puppies, you need to put all the wires out of the way, else risk your puppy chewing on it and frying himself in the process.
Tip #3: Keep your meds out of reach too!
If it’s something your puppy commonly sees you put in your mouth, then, chances are, he will be intrigued and give it a taste himself. That is how he looks at your meds. He doesn’t care if it tastes bad. For him, it is food you “eat” regularly. The bad news is that a lot of our medicines are highly toxic for our pets. So, make sure that all your medicines are out of reach as well.
Tip #4: In fact, put everything out of reach!
We are talking about everything that could be potentially harmful, such as cleaning agents, laundry detergent, batteries, house plants—keep all of them in an area where you’re little friend won’t be able to access.
Tip #5: Establish boundaries
Speaking of access, you also have to establish boundaries within your home. Install an indoor gate if you don’t want him to enter a room, go downstairs, or run outside. Also, keep in mind that dogs are not like cats who can jump from one tall place to another and not get hurt. Dog bones are, unfortunately, more fragile than cats’. Thus, heights are more unforgiving to them.
With all those in mind and a little bit of thoughtfulness, we are sure your puppy will not only have a loving home but a safe one too!
Chapter 2: Your Puppy’s Health
Here’s another important concern for your puppy’s safety—his health. And that’s exactly what we are going to talk about in this chapter. First, we are going to share a quick guide on puppy vaccinations, and later on, we will talk about puppy vitamins.
A Guide To Puppy Vaccinations
Like humans, young dogs also need the support of vaccines in order to keep them healthy as they grow up. If you are unsure about any health-related concern, then please feel free to consult your nearest vet. If you want an overview of what types of vaccines your puppy will need during the first year, though, then you have come to the right spot.
Here is a quick guide to the different vaccinations your puppy will ever need:
During the First 2 Months:
Your puppy will most likely need shots for distemper, parainfluenza, and Bordetella. Distemper is an airborne contagious disease that can cause real damage to a dog’s respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous system. There is no cure for this ailment, so it’s very important to get your dog vaccinated against it.
Parainfluenza, on the other hand, resembles human influenza with a lot of dry coughing, retching, and gagging. Finally, Bordetella is a contagious disease that can also lead to coughing, vomiting, even seizures!
On the Third Month:
Your puppy would need to get a DHPP vaccine too, which is a shot for distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, and parvovirus. Parvovirus is probably one of the scariest ailments your puppy can contract and may even lead to death in less than 72 hours!
On the Sixth Month:
Your puppy needs a rabies shot. Rabies is now required by law in most states, and it’s not only for the protection of your dog but for your own safety as well. Humans can get rabies from a bite or even a scratch
Finally, your dog needs to get a yearly shot for DHPP and rabies.
As what we have mentioned above, it is still best to consult a vet regarding your puppy’s health as different puppies have different health needs. In fact, your puppy might need more than just a vaccine. Who knows what else your puppy might need after getting him checked up?
Will the Puppy Need Vitamins?
Does your puppy need them? And, if he does, what kind of vitamins should you give him? Here are some helpful information about puppy vitamins:
So, while we can tolerate different supplements, your little puppy might not. As such, please consult a vet first before giving him any type of supplement. As what we have mentioned in the previous item, some supplements may even be harmful to your pet if not given at the proper dose. Thus, in order to make sure, contact your vet first.
Another thing to talk about with your vet regarding your new puppy is his diet. If you need more information on what to feed your pet, then let’s move on to the next chapter.
Chapter 3: Your Puppy’s Diet
If you still recall, we have mentioned in the previous chapter that if your dog receives proper nutrition through her diet, you won’t even need to give her vitamins or supplements anymore. That’s how important your doggie’s diet is!
Thus, we have dedicated an entire chapter just talking about a puppy’s diet, which includes the different nutrients your puppy needs, helpful information about two different types of dog food (commercial vs. homemade), and how often should you feed your puppy. Let’s get started.
The Nutrients Your Puppy Needs
One of the most important questions you will need to ask yourself when choosing the best dog food choice for your pet is, “will this dog food’s nutritional value be enough to keep my puppy healthy and satisfied?”.
The problem is, you won’t be able to answer this question if you don’ know what sort of nutrients your puppy needs, right? Hence, let us first talk about that before moving on to dog food.
Protein is considered one of the most important building blocks of life, and the same consideration applies to your puppy. Your puppy needs enough protein to help him build and repair his tissues.
Too much fat is never a good thing, but your dog still needs enough fat in order to make sure that he has beautiful skin and hair, a smart brain, and good vision.
A lot of humans tend to shy away from carbs, but your puppy needs them a lot as his primary source of energy.
Other Vitamins and Minerals
Just like us, our doggie friends need different vitamins and minerals too. Just make sure that your dog is going to get his fill in the right dosage, though. So, if he’s already getting enough vitamins from his food, you shouldn’t give him extra doses in the form of supplements anymore.
If we’re always reminding you to be careful on the proper dosage of vitamins and minerals, here’s something your dog won’t overdose on—water. No matter how much wet food you give your dog, it will never be enough to keep him fully hydrated the whole day. Thus, always make sure that your dog has clean water to drink at all times.
Dog Food or Homemade Food?
So, now that you know the different nutrients your puppy needs, the question now would be what kind of food to give him? Commercial dog food or homemade food? Well, both kinds of dog foods have their own pros and cons.
Here’s the deal, homemade dog foods are preferred by a lot of owners since it allows them to know what their dog is having. It has fewer preservatives, less artificial flavoring, and just downright fewer chemicals. The problem, however, is that unless your recipes were created by a certified pet nutritionist, there really is no knowing whether what you have prepared for your pet is enough to fulfill his nutritional needs.
On the other hand, while some commercial dog foods are said to be teeming with chemicals and are rumored to cause more harm than sustenance, the truth is that these dog foods are specially formulated to contain the proper ratio of the nutrients your dog needs per serving.
So, here’s the verdict: if you are absolutely sure you can wing it with your home cooking, then that’s okay. But if you would rather feed your pet something that’s already been prepared, something that you really don’t have to think about anymore, then feel free to choose commercial dog food instead.
Just do your homework and perform some research on the different brands, or better yet, consult your puppy’s vet before buying one just to make sure that your pet is getting the nutrition that he needs minus the chemicals and preservatives that can make him sick.
Finally, here is a quick list of food items you should never feed your dog:
Your Puppy’s Feeding Schedule
Have you finally decided on the type of food to feed your puppy? That’s great! The next challenge now is to determine how often you need to feed your pet.
For the purposes of this guide, we are only going to talk about a puppy’s eating schedule, which means the first year of your dog’s life.
During the First 2 Months
A puppy needs to feed on his mother’s milk during the first two months. His mother’s breast milk will have all the nutrients he will ever need during the first few weeks of his life. But what if the mother is gone? We are so sorry to hear that, but during cases that the mother’s milk is not available for the newborn puppy for any reason at all, then there are formulas actually available for that. Consult with your puppy’s vet.
You might need to personally bottle feed your puppy, though, just to make sure that he feeds well.
Transitioning to Dog Food
You will probably want to transition to dog food starting around six weeks of age. Keep in mind that this is a process and not something you can do overnight. The first thing you would need to do is to select the brand of dog food you will give him. Then, mix it with the milk formula. You can even blend it to make it easier for your puppy to eat and digest.
As for the amount of food, consult your vet as every puppy breed requires different serving sizes. For frequency, it is recommended that you feed this three to four times a day. Practice small and frequent feeding with your puppy for better digestion and nutrient absorption.
Just continue this method of feeding, and by your puppy’s third month, he should be ready to chow down on solid dog food.
Around Six Months of Age
Once your puppy gets around six months of age, you should be able to reduce the frequency of his feeding time to just twice a day—once during the day and once at night. Doing so is definitely more convenient for us owners, right?
You should still double check with your vet, though, since larger breeds might still require the three-to-four-times-a-day feeding frequency.
When to Graduate from Puppy Food?
Your puppy should be able to graduate from dog food when he matures enough to eat regular adult dog food. Again, the timing depends on the type of breed your dog is. Smaller breeds mature faster, and that might mean transitioning to adult dog food in 10 months. Medium-sized dog breeds can take a year. And, lastly, large dog breeds can take a year and a half before being able to do the transition.
In the end, there are different factors to consider when it comes to the type of food to give your dog and feeding frequency. Due to the limitations of this eBook, though, we would not be able to specifically list down each of the dog breeds and their requirements. So, again, it’s better to consult the vet for more detailed information.
Wow, we have finally reached the end of this guide. So, what do you think? Are you ready for the challenge to be a puppy parent? For more information about your furry friend, feel free to come back and visit our website. We constantly update it with more helpful articles to help you become a more responsible pet owner, so be sure to check that out!
All the Puppy Love in the World
Honestly, if you were able to finish this guide up to the very end, then that only means one thing: you really have the interest to be a responsible pet owner. And, most of the time, that is enough to determine whether you will be a loving and responsible puppy parent or not.
Most people just dive head-first into bringing home a new puppy without any prior research. But, you, you’re different. You actually took the time to read this entire guide just to prepare yourself for the upcoming commitment.
In the end, what’s really important is that you have a lot of love to give. And, you will be pleasantly surprised, that your puppy also has a lot of love to give back. Being a pet parent surely comes with challenges, but the rewards are totally worth it too.
You will gain a friend for life, who will never betray you, always look at you with admiration, and just be there whenever you need someone to love.