Nothing is cuter or sweeter than puppies. Working as a small animal veterinarian, there is nothing better than when a client comes in with a puppy for me to evaluate. Suddenly the entire animal hospital is taking tons of pictures and squeezing and hugging them. To be totally honest, puppies and kittens are a big reason why I pursued a career in veterinary medicine. I just love their adorable, innocent sweet little faces. As much as it is fun to play with puppies at work for a brief moment, it is a major endeavor to care for them at home. Today I would like to take some time to discuss ways that pet parents can prepare for all the challenges and fun of raising puppies, ranging from training tactics to health and wellness recommendations with a puppy survival kit. Lets get started:
Making Your New Puppy Survival Kit
- Find a trainer early – as early as 8 weeks old. It is always better to have a professional trainer show you the proper tools and methods to work with your puppy. As dogs get older, they develop habits and become more difficult to train.
- Crate training is the easiest way of house breaking your puppy.
- Puppies chew and tear apart everything in sight. Choose toys at the pet store that are indestructible and avoid stuffed animals with stuffing or noisemakers inside. My favorite training tool for this is Fooey Gel – This is a gel that is very bitter. When used in conjunction with recommended training methods, Fooey®! stops dangerous and destructive behaviors such as: unwanted chewing, licking, biting, ingesting and more. Great for doors, crown molding, furniture legs, dangerous plants – and even on the pet (hot spots & surgical wounds) because it is safe and nontoxic on the skin. I prescribe Fooey for pets that underwent surgery to prevent damage to surgical sutures, and to discourage gnawing on hot spots and inflamed areas.
- Put away your garbage, make sure they can’t get near the toilet paper, and pick up anything from the floor that is not a toy for your puppy. Puppies eat everything and surgery to remove a foreign body is not uncommon in puppyhood. I promise this one small tip could save you a lot of stress and money.
- Play with your puppy’s paws and nails, clean their ears weekly (ask your veterinarian to show you how). Getting them accustom to having their nails, ears, and teeth fussed with will help them be more comfortable with the process when they are older. I recommend Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Ear Therapy, this is a gentle relief for fungal, yeast and bacterial infections, while cleaning, disinfecting and deodorizing the ear canal. I also commonly recommend Dr. Gold’s Ear Therapy. Dr. Gold’s Ear Therapy has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties which effectively reduces foul odors, redness and swelling, while also providing daily care maintenance for a healthy pet. It is alcohol-free, so pet parents’ can clean and dry the canal without irritating pets’ delicate ears as frequently as needed. Always speak with your veterinarian when starting any medications on your pet.
- Bathe your puppy every week or 2 to get them used to bathing and grooming. I love Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Hypoallergenic shampoo and recommend it for my pets all the time. Many shampoos can be harsh and cause allergic reactions, especially with pets that are already predisposed to allergies. This shampoo has the gentlest coconut-based cleansers and no harsh ingredients, dyes and fragrances so it will not irritate sensitive skin. It also contains vitamin E (Stimulates capillaries to promote blood circulation and, in turn, promotes strong and healthy hair growth), lactic acid (an alpha-hydroxy acid, naturally exfoliates, buffers and conditions skin), and allotoin (a moisturizing ingredient used to treat or prevent skin from becoming dry, itchy, scaly, rough or irritated). Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Hypoallergenic shampoo is paraben-free, will not remove topical spot-on flea & tick treatments and is dye free.
- Stay informed on parasite control and place your puppy on monthly flea and tick and heartworm preventions. I love Veterinary Formula Flea & Tick Shampoo – This shampoo kills and controls fleas & ticks on contact. What I love about this anti-parasitic shampoo is that it is paraben free, dye free, pH balanced, and soap-free which is less harsh and damaging to your pet’s skin. Most importantly this shampoo is safe for your pet promoting their overall well-being and health. I also prescribe Veterinary Formula Flea & Tick Spray – This topical spray provides dogs with up to 14 weeks of protection against fleas and ticks – the longest lasting results available on the market today. Also prevents re-infestation and the development of flea larvae and eggs. Like the organic shampoo, this spray uses the natural insecticide, pyrethrum to kill fleas and ticks on contact. It also includes Nylar® to prevent the development of flea larvae and eggs and permethrin to give long-lasting protection against adult fleas to prevent re-infestation.
- Brush your pets teeth early- this is a great tip and one I highly recommend all my new parents start doing early. Puppies will tolerate and even learn to love having their teeth cleaned. It is extremely difficult to start brushing your pets teeth at a later age. With periodontal disease being the most common disease I diagnose, this is one of the most important tips I can recommend. The key is to use a soft bristle toothbrush and pet formulated toothpaste. My favorite tooth paste for pets is DENTAL FRESH® ENZYMATIC DENTAL GEL FOR DOGS because of the 7-zyme properties which other pet toothpastes do not have. 7-Zyme™ attacks the cell walls of mouth bacteria, depriving them of the oxygen and iron needed for survival and proliferation. This gel is also clinically proven to heal oral wounds which are common with periodontal disease.
- Spay or neuter your pet – speak with your veterinarian regarding all the health benefits and reasons why you should spay or neuter your pet.
- Make sure your puppy is on a vaccination protocol recommended by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). Discuss with your veterinarian what is needed for your puppy based upon demographics and where you live.
- I highly recommend pet insurance! One of my favorites is ASPCA.
Puppies are THE BEST! They are fun, adorable, loveable, and definitely entertaining. I hope these tips help you get started into your journey of becoming a pet parent. Although puppyhood is hard and can be stressful at times, it goes by in a blink of an eye. Squeeze your cute pup and takes lots of pictures! All the work and dedication in the beginning will be worth the lifetime of love.
Dr. Alison Birkin Streit
About Dr. Alison Birken
My name is Dr. Alison Birken and I am a small animal veterinarian, wife, mother of three, and a sister to my three siblings. I graduated veterinary school from The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in 2006, and completed a year internship in small animal medicine at Florida Veterinary Specialist in Tampa, Florida. I have been practicing small animal medicine for 11 years and over the past 6 years have dedicated my life to building and operating an animal hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, accomplishing a lifelong goal of mine. In addition, along with my sisters (Katie, a pediatrician and Carrie, a fashion stylist), I am a co-founder of Forever Freckled (www.foreverfreckled.com), a website dedicated to helping people with pets, children, and everyday lifestyle. It has been an incredible journey turning my passion for animals into a career and nothing brings me more joy than to help pets and their parents with wellness and healthy living. For wellness and health tips for pets, and other lifestyle advice, please follow our journey on www.foreverfreckled.com.