Understandably, puppies are rather more delicate and less hardy than their fully grown canine counterparts, and are more prone to contracting a variety of minor ills and sensitivities. As puppies grow and develop, their immune systems grow with them, offering them greater protection against a whole range of viruses, bacteria and other nasties that can lead to a multitude of problems.
Most owners of a new puppy will probably have to deal with the results of a minor stomach upset at some point, and generally, these are short-term problems that are not serious and correct themselves fairly quickly. If you own a dog less than one year of age or are considering getting one, read on to learn about some of the most common causes of stomach upsets in puppies.
Your young puppy should receive their vaccinations against transmissible illnesses as early as possible, and if your pup is over 12 weeks old when you get them, they should already have had the first of their two stage vaccinations. Until your puppy has received both of the two stage vaccinations necessary, they should not be allowed outside of your own home and garden, and should not be brought into contact with any other unvaccinated dogs.
Puppies are particularly prone to contracting bugs and viruses before they are vaccinated that may be going around, including the very nasty and often fatal parvovirus, which is very debilitating and often incurable; but totally preventable with vaccination.
When you first get your new puppy from the breeder or seller, the chances are that you will wish to change their food at some point to the food that you have researched and decided is the best fit for them. However, the chances are that when you first get your puppy, they have only ever eaten one type of food in their entire lives, and feeding them something different can prove to be quite the shock to the system. Leave it at least two weeks after bringing your puppy home before changing them on to a different food, and make sure that the change is made very gradually, over the course of a couple of weeks.
Even if your puppy really enjoys the new food, don’t be tempted to rush the changeover process, in order to allow your puppy’s tummy time to get used to the change.
Once puppies come to learn that there is a whole plethora of foods out there in the world as well as their standard meals, they will probably be keen to sample as much of it as possible! This is the stage at which your pup might begin to pick up bad habits like begging, or scavenging for food around the home and when out walking. A great many seemingly innocuous foods can actually be harmful to dogs, including chocolate, grapes and onions, so take steps to protect your inquisitive puppy from getting their paws on them! This can be easier said than done, particularly for some breeds (looking at you, Labrador Retriever!) that seem to be totally ruled by their stomachs, but it is really important!
As well as a tendency to eat everything, puppies also really like to chew, and this is an important part of the teething process as well. Make sure that your puppy has access to plenty of appropriate teething toys to cut their new teeth on, and that they are sturdy and safe with no small parts. Keep an eye on what your puppy is chewing on, and take away anything inappropriate, such as things that might splinter, or string and rope.
Puppy training is very important, and best started when young. With training comes positive reinforcement, and for the young puppy who has a very basic understanding of action and reward, this usually means treats! Understandably, treats are an important part of training, but try to control the number that you give to your puppy, and choose treats carefully.
Look for natural treats that are not high in salt or sugar, and ration the day’s treats out carefully. Too many rich treats over the course of the day can soon lead to a nasty case of the runs!
Growing up is a challenging time for puppies, particularly when you take into account their leaving their canine family, moving into a new home with new people, and being expected to learn new skills. Puppies generally handle this change well when it is properly approached, and take it in their strides. However, too much upheaval, too much outside stimulus, expecting too much of your puppy when they are young and not providing a good routine for your young dog can all lead to stress, which can manifest in a wide variety of ways, including as an upset stomach.