Make sure your pet has identification of some kind, rabies tag with your veterinarians phone number, or a personalized name tag with your home phone and cell phone. Better safe than sorry!
Yeah, I know I've written about puppy care before but there's so much to know.
Now that spring here, there will be adorable puppies at our wonderful McCook Humane Society, in parking lots and in front of discount stores with 'Free Puppies' signs. Puppies adopted from the Humane Society will also come with discounts on routine veterinary care (quite a perk!).
So, you've decided you want a puppy. Well, there really is quite a bit to do and puppies are never free. First there are VACCINATIONS, and HIGH QUALITY FOOD, and PHYSICAL EXAM, and DEWORMINGS, and INTESTINAL PARASITE TESTING, and DAILY EXERCISE, and OBEDIENCE TRAINING, and well you get the point. The best time for weaning puppies is 8 weeks of age although their mommies may decide to do so earlier. The other reason to keep them with their litter until then is that mom teaches them good dog manners and socializing with other dog skills.
Does my puppy really need VACCINATIONS? You Bet! Puppies from birth to between 6-8 weeks still have some immunity from their mothers' colostrum that they ate right after birth. After 6-8 weeks that immunity begins to decrease leaving them susceptible to some pretty severe diseases. When you pick out a puppy, make sure they've had at least 1 puppy combo (usually the other 2 are up to you). That's right, one VACCINATION doesn't mean they are protected from every contagious dog disease. You'll also want to get the date and type/brand of vaccine given, not all vaccines are equal). According to NE state law, Rabies should be given at 12 weeks of age (3 months) and needs to be given by a licensed veterinarian. We have three veterinarians that do small animal care so you have no excuse to not have your dogs and cats vaccinated. Luckily we don't have much rabies in our part of the US (there have been a few cases so watch out and make sure your pets have their shots regularly).
Puppies first deworming should happen at the age of 5 weeks (not all dewormers are created equal). Puppies are very susceptible to intestinal parasites. Some intestinal parasites like hookworms are so nasty that they may kill a puppy and may be transmitted to humans. Intestinal parasites also make your dog food bill higher because they need to eat more or they don't reach their full height and weight.
Probably the most important thing you can do for your puppy other than feed him high quality dog food is to take him to a veterinarian for a complete nose to tail EXAM. A good veterinarian will check eyes, ears (ear mites and other infections), mouth (tonsils, cleft palates, retained baby teeth or infected teeth), lymph nodes, chest (heart rate and rhythm and murmurs or other congenital defects), lungs, abdomen/belly for hernias, and legs and feet (hips and knees for laxity and more severely dysplasia where the hips or knee caps slip out of place leading to pain and arthritis later in life). Just like us, a lot can be wrong.
You can also start their dental care as a puppy by teaching them to like having their teeth brushed (just ask me, I've cleaned hundred of dogs with mouths so foul most people would gag just from the smell alone). Exercise is also a key point in keeping your puppy happy and you as well. Take them for a daily walk and start leash training them at 8-10 weeks. Both of you will be much happier.
So how much money can you expect to spend on Fido? Depending on big your puppy gets? I'm not sure but in this area, expect up to $500 with dog food, veterinary care, puppy crate, obedience training. Be thankful you don't live in a large city.
Best of luck with the new bundle of puppy love and give us at the veterinary clinic a call when you have any questions. That first 1-2 years can try your patience but what kid doesn't.
Click here to learn about parvo virus http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?cls=2&cat=1556&articleid=467,
here for canine distemper (not related to feline distemper) http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?cls=2&cat=1556&articleid=419
and for rabies http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?cls=2&cat=1556&articleid=347.
(click here for vaccination recommendations -->) http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?cls=2&cat=1648&articleid=950
Here are a list of 2007 RABIES positives: http://www.vet.ksu.edu/depts/dmp/service/rabies/2007/NEpos07.htm and
a map of last year http://www.vet.ksu.edu/depts/dmp/service/rabies/2007/NE07_map.gif
About hookworms-à http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?cls=2&cat=1622&articleid=747
and here is a list of more parasites with related articles http://www.peteducation.com/category_summary.cfm?cls=2&cat=1622 .