First Time Owners with a Puppy

So, you decided to adopt a puppy and now you have a cute bundle of joy. After playing, cuddling and kissing your new pup, you run into a big problem—you never owned a puppy before and you don’t know what to do next! Fear not…this week on Q&A with Dr. Quest, we go over important information for first time puppy owners!

When should a puppy have their first vet visit?

Generally, unless there is a problem beforehand the first visit should be between 6-8 weeks of age to coincide with the first set of puppy vaccinations.  At this time a general physical exam should be done to check for any problems, record weight and check for internal & external parasites.


What should pet parents do to prepare for their first vet visit?

It is a good idea to begin making your puppy accustomed to being handled and picked up by other people so they will not be as anxious for their first Veterinary visit.  Getting them used to riding in the pet carrier is also a good idea not just for Veterinary visits but for other necessary trips as well like to the groomer.


What are the major shots for puppies?

Most healthy puppies should have their vaccinations begin at 6-8 weeks of age.  This can be a combination vaccine including parvovirus, adenovirus, distemper virus and parainfluenza virus.  Some Veterinarians may add in coronavirus depending on the individual puppy.

This combination vaccine is usually every 3-4 weeks until the puppy reaches 16 weeks of age.  Then a rabies vaccination is generally given then as well.

How much should you feed your puppy?

There are some nutritional differences between dog foods for adults and puppies so it is important to feed a puppy diet that states it is formulated to the requirements of AAFCO for canine growth.  There are also some instances where it is appropriate to feed certain breeds such as large breeds a different growth diet than small puppies.  A pet parent should consult with their Veterinarian to determine what diet is right for their puppy.  Most experts agree that it is better to divide a puppy’s daily total diet into multiple feedings for several reasons.  It can reduce GI upset by feeding small meals more frequently and it can provide for multiple happy feeding occasions during the day giving your puppy times to look forward to.  Most manufacturers will have the recommended amount to feed your puppy on their package based on the puppy’s weight and/or their expected weight when they reach maturity.  Please remember most of the time this is the minimum requirement and each individual’s needs may be different so it is always best to consult with your Veterinarian.

Any other advice to new pet parents about owning your first puppy?

Having your first puppy is a wonderful feeling.  This young trusting canine will look to you as its parent now and puts complete trust in you.  Raising a puppy isn’t particularly difficult and there is a lot of good information to help but always go to a credible source for any helpful advice.  We recommend regular Veterinary exams and care and feeding high quality premium diets.  Using quality prescription heartworm preventatives and flea/tick preventatives is very important for your puppy’s health.  Having a puppy is a significant time and financial commitment and one should make sure they are capable of providing both before getting their first puppy.

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