Getting a new puppy is an exciting time in any household but for first-time dogs owners it can be a bit of an anxious time too. Once puppy is safely esconced in their new home, keeping an eye on their health is essential but there are going to be times when you're not sure whether your new little four-legged friend is sick or not which can be a bit of a worry.
However, before you call the vet and make an appointment, there are a few things you can check out yourself which are listed below:
- Take a close look at their eyes - your puppy's eyes should be bright and clear with no apparent discharge. If they look dull and there is any discharge, then a trip to the vet could be in order
- Check puppy's nose – it should be cool to the touch and moist with no discharge from either nostril. Their noses should be glistening but if you notice any discharge and your puppy's nose appears dry and cracked, then you need to get them to the vet as soon as possible
- Check their breath – a puppy's breath should smell nice and fresh, they should be breathing quite evenly which is normal. However, if you notice a nasty odour on their breath and they appear to be out of breath, again a trip to the vet is essential
- Take a look at your puppy's gums – they should be nice and pink. Press gently on the gums and if all is well they should go from a light colour right back to it's natural pink in under two seconds. If you find your puppy's gums are very pale or very dark in colour, then a trip to the vet is in order sooner rather than later
- Check their teeth – are they nice and white, clean? If you notice any plaque or damage on their teeth, discuss the problem with your vet and make sure your puppy is being given the right diet and some healthy chews to bite on
- Take a look at puppy's ears – their ears should have a clean smell about them. If you notice any dark, greasy looking gunk in their ears don't attempt to clean them with cotton buds, but rather talk to your vet and get some ear drops because your puppy might have picked up ear mites which will cause them a lot of discomfort
- Take a look at their coat – this should be nice and shiny. If you puppy has a dull, lifeless coat, you should make an appointment to see the vet because they could be lacking in some essential vitamins, nutrients and minerals
- Examine your puppy's skin – this should be nice and supple, clean and smooth. If you gently pinch their skin it should go back to normal as soon as you let go. If you find your puppy's skin stays pinched, they could be dehydrated so you would need to take them to the vet as soon as you can
- Check their paws – make sure there are no tears or sores on their claws or pads which could get infected. If you notice any swelling or redness on their pads or claws, then you should make an appointment to see the vet
If you make it a routine to check all of the above points on a weekly basis you'll have the peace of mind that puppy is doing well and in great condition. The added advantage of doing this on a regular basis is that it is a great way to form a strong bond with your pet. It also means puppy gets used to being handled which is particularly important because if and when an injury should occur, your pet will be quite used to being handled and gently poked and prodded whether it's by you or your vet.
Does Your Puppy Need Vitamin Supplements?
You would need to take puppy along to the vet and ask whether your pet needs any extra vitamins because if you give too many, it could prove harmful for their health. It is important to understand the value and what vitamins do to improve their health which includes the following:
- They help process other nutrients in your puppy's body – the right balance ensures their body repairs itself when necessary and they help the body grow properly
- The two types of vitamins – puppies need to have two types of vitamins in their diets which are water-soluble vitamins C and B-complex as well as the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K to stay healthy
Water-soluble vitamins help build up teeth, bones and connective tissue but because of their make up these vitamins are flushed out of the body quite quickly. This means a puppy's diet has to include this type of vitamin in order to "top" them up. The thing to bear in mind is that Vitamin C is naturally produced by the body so if it is given in excess it can cause a puppy to have serious health problems. The rule of thumb is NOT to supplement a puppy's diet with Vitamin C unless specifically directed by your vet.
When it comes to fat-soluble vitamins, they are found in most animal fat and puppy will absorb these through their intestines before storing them for future use. However, a build-up of too many fat-soluble vitamins could result in health issues and in particular physical abnormalities. Unless your vet has prescribed a fat-soluble vitamin supplement for your puppy, you should avoid giving them because if you are feeding the correct puppy food diet, all these vitamins should be included in the formulation.
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