Puppies - Furry Friends Friday

Dr. Megan Gibbings
West Coast Animal Hospital

I'm Alex Steiniger. Many people welcome new puppies into their homes during the holidays, and now that they're over, we might need some help on what to do with our happy little pups. Dr. Megan Gibbings of West Coast Animal Hospital is here to help us. Thanks so much for being here, Dr. Gibbings.

What tips do you have for new puppy owners to get through it?

We often see more puppies this time of year as many people welcome new pets into their homes for the holidays. Puppies are a ton of fun, but they're also a lot of work. Puppies get into everything, so I recommend that people puppy-proof their homes and get ready to clean up some messes during potty training. It's also really important to plan and prepare for their first veterinarian visit.

There are also a lot of healthcare aspects that people might not have thought of before taking the dive. What can you tell us about that?

In general, most pet owners can expect their puppy to visit the veterinarian about once a month for the first four to six months. During those visits, the veterinarian will perform a physical exam to make sure your puppy's healthy, and they'll do a screening for any congenital diseases. They'll also start their vaccine booster series for the core viruses, including distemper, parvo, leptospirosis, bordetella, and rabies. Those vaccines will be given at various intervals to boost your puppy's immune system. General deworming and fecal and parasite testing are also recommended, as many puppies can acquire parasites from their mom, not just from the environment. Your veterinarian will also discuss the nutritional recommendations for your puppy and the best time to spay or neuter. Socialization and training are also critical aspects of your puppy's growth and development. For most dogs, this can start around nine weeks of age, but be sure to avoid heavily trafficked dog areas like dog beaches or dog parks until they're fully vaccinated.

Getting a puppy is one of the most special things a family can do. What are some of the first steps they should take when they bring them home for the first time?

In addition to puppy-proofing your home and maybe purchasing some carpet cleaner, it's important to know that there's a lot of misinformation on the internet about puppy care. Your veterinarian will give you the best advice. I recommend that if you take home a new pet this holiday season, reach out to your veterinarian and set up a visit today.

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