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New Puppy Care

Advice on buying and caring for a new puppy

If you are considering getting a puppy, Dr. Susan Nelson, assistant professor of veterinary medicine at Kansas State University, suggests a few things to keep in mind.

Before buying a new puppy, here are a few things Nelson said to consider:

  • Lap dog or jogging partner
  • Small or large
  • Male or female
  • Long or short hair
  • Grooming needs
  • Purebred or mixed breed
  • Exercise needs

If you want a mixed breed dog, your area shelters and are good resources.

If you want a purebred dog, Nelson said the next step is to research the breed. Know the qualities of the breed before you purchase it, so you are not surprised or disappointed by behaviors expected from that breed. A prospective owner should also research the cost of owning a dog. Costs for foods and medications are higher for large breeds.

Nelson said it’s important to research breeders and to ask around to find a reputable breeder. Consider breeders who will guarantee the health and quality of their dogs.

After choosing a breed and buying the puppy, Nelson said the new owner should take the puppy in for a veterinarian check-up right away to make sure the puppy is healthy and physically sound.

At this time, the owner should make appropriate appointments for distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza and parvovirus vaccines, as well as deworming and fecal examinations for intestinal parasites. Nelson said a puppy’s shots should be started at 6 to 8 weeks of age, with booster shots every two to four weeks until the puppy is around 16 weeks old. Nelson said the puppy should receive its rabies shot between 12 and 16 weeks of age.

Nelson said additional vaccines may be needed depending on breed and health status and that all new owners should check with their veterinarians.

Nelson recommends obedience training for puppies � the earlier the better. She said it’s important to be willing to train your dog, because good behavior means a better time for everyone. Before choosing an obedience training class, Nelson stressed researching the classes and methods used by the instructors. Ask to visit a class in progress, but do not take your puppy when you go to observe.

Some basic needs of a new puppy include shelter and food. Nelson said a dog crate or carrier is usually the best and safest place for a puppy to sleep. She said it provides a safe haven, is the best way for house training and keeps the puppy from destructive chewing while you are gone.

Nelson said puppies should be fed in 10-15 minute timed feedings two to three times a day for young puppies and one to two times daily for older puppies. The number of feedings should be increased if the puppy is a small or toy breed. She said timed feedings are important in helping the owner more closely monitor how much the puppy is eating and regulate bowels for easier house training.

Nelson said to use the feeding guide on the food bag as just a general guide of how much to feed. The puppy will require more or less depending on exercise levels, weight and age.

While Nelson said these are the basics of adding a puppy to your family, she said new owners also need to take the dog to the vet at least once yearly and account for other needs, such as heartworm prevention, flea and tick control, exercise and “lots of tender loving care.”

Nelson has been at K-State since the fall of 2003. Prior to that she served as an associate veterinarian at a small animal hospital in Manhattan for 14 years. Nelson received her bachelor’s from Hastings College and her doctorate of veterinary medicine from K-State in 1989.


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