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Having a New Puppy: 101

By October 14, 2021 PETCARE Blog

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Congratulations on getting a new puppy! It’s such a fun and challenging part of life.

In this article, I will go over some basic information that it is good to know when raising a puppy.

Dental Care:

  • It is never too young to start teaching your puppy good dental habits.
  • Puppies will start to lose their puppy teeth around 4-6 months of age, and their adult teeth will usually grow in at the same time.
  • It is a good idea to examine your pet’s mouth frequently – to make sure they didn’t eat something they shouldn’t have (and may have gotten stuck), but to also make sure their puppy teeth are falling out.
  • Occasionally, puppy teeth will not fall out on their own. If the puppy teeth are still there by 8 months old, then it is a good idea to have them removed, usually at the time of a spay or neuter. If you allow those teeth to remain, they can cause overcrowding and shifting of their adult teeth.
  • Typically, the first step to dental care is getting your puppy familiar with having your finger/hand in their mouth.
  • It is best to try and make it fun (without getting bitten with those sharp, sharp puppy teeth) for your puppy.
  • Once your puppy is comfortable with having you in their mouth, then add a doggie toothpaste, specifically made for dogs.
  • The trick to doggie toothpaste is you do NOT need to scrub their teeth as a human would.  With a doggie toothpaste, you just need to place the paste on the front and back of the teeth and let the toothpaste activate, in which it will start foaming.
  • Once the puppy has become familiar with the toothpaste, then you may either continue to use your finger to apply the toothpaste or you may use a soft-bristle toothbrush.
  • Brushing puppy’s teeth should be done DAILY for the best effects.
  • Puppy teeth are just like human’s. If you were to never brush a pet’s teeth, then tartar/plaque & gingivitis will start to occur at a quicker rate than brushing daily.
  • Keep in mind – even if you are diligent on brushing your pet’s teeth daily, they will still eventually build tartar and gingivitis. Humans need to go to the dentist every 6-12 months, and they (hopefully) brush their teeth 1-2x daily.
  • At each examination, we will let you know how well your pet’s teeth are doing. For small/medium sized dogs, they will generally start to need a dentistry (which can ONLY be done while under anesthesia) around 2-3 yrs of age. For larger dogs, they can sometimes wait til 4-5yrs old.
  • If your pet never received a dentistry, then they will start to have bad breath, may lose teeth, and eventually it can start to affect their overall health – including damaging their organs.
  • Dental treats & water additives can help a tiny tiny bit but brushing is the best thing for them. If you are interested in using a dental product, then you should use products with the VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council) logo on the product bag/box.


  • All pets can benefit from having some sort of identification on them.
  • Regularly inspect their collars and/or harnesses
  • Collars should be tight enough that two fingers can fit underneath the collar. Super loose collars are more prone to slipping off (and running away) or getting stuck on objects (risk of strangulation etc…)
  • We highly recommend having an ID tag on their collar and/or harness, as well as a microchip.
  • Animals have the potential for slipping out of their collar/harness, which is why having an extra way of identification is a great idea!
  • We offer ID tags at our front desk – they are mailed to the clinic within 4-6 weeks after purchase
  • Microchip identification can be implanted at any time.
    • Some people elect to have them microchipped at their first visit because they will receive less injections (vaccines) at this visit.
    • Some people elect to have them microchipped at their first visit because they are less familiar with their surroundings and may be more prone to bolting out the door.
    • Some people elect to have them microchipped during the time of their spay/neuter because they will be under anesthesia.
  • Microchip needles are slightly larger than a vaccine needle, thus do not require anesthesia for implantation.
  • We use a MicroFindr microchip, offered by
  • MicroFindr microchips do NOT have a registration fee or annual fee associated with them, which means you only pay for the microchip itself.
  • If you sign up for the PuppyCARE program, you will receive $5 off of the microchip.


  • Begin bathing your pet at home
  • Please avoid getting shampoo in your pet’s eyes – even if they say it is water-proof. Burns can occur.
  • Dogs are VERY waterproof – if you were to apply shampoo and immediately rinse it off, you are very likely to dry their skin out and cause extra, unnecessary flaking.
  • When bathing a puppy, be sure to use a doggie shampoo that is age appropriate (most are 8 weeks and older). Please do not use human shampoo.
  • When bathing a puppy, it is BEST to leave the doggie shampoo on your pet for at least 10-15mins before rinsing it off. You will typically need to start with a 5min bath and work your way up to 15mins due to most puppies level of hyperness.
  • The first couple of times you let the shampoo sit long-enough, you will likely see more flaking and more dandruff. This is because you are releasing the deeper layers of dead skin.
  • Once of the BIGGEST myths out there is that you can bathe your dog too much. MYTH MYTH MYTH.
  • If your puppy got dirty every single day, you can bathe them as long as you are letting the shampoo to sit long enough.
  • It is a good idea to get a routine going for your pet. This routine can include: trimming your pet’s nails (if comfortable to do at home), bathing your puppy, and then cleaning their ears out with a doggie ear cleanser. Most ear cleansers have a drying agent to help with drying their ears out, in case you got water in their ear canals. Please ask one of our staff members on how to trim your puppy’s nails or clean their ears.


  • Professional dog grooming (if applicable) can be started around 16-18wk of age, AFTER they have completed all of their puppy vaccinations.
  • With the Doodle breeds becoming very popular, groomers are asking owners to have their Doodle professional groomed every 6-8wks, depending on their coat. Doodles are more likely to matt up quicker than other hair coats & if you are interested in keeping their puppy hair curly and not shaving them down, please schedule accordingly.
  • In preparation for profession dog grooming, groomers have recommended using an old electronic toothbrush (something that vibrates) to help them become familiar with the feeling of grooming clippers.


  • Human socialization can be very beneficial to your puppy.
  • Start by touching (playing) with your puppy’s face, feet, tail, and basically all over. If you fail to touch them in one particular spot, then they might react negatively to someone touching them there.
  • It is BEST to avoid taking your new puppy to the dog park, playdates, pet stores, or boarding/grooming facility, and around the neighborhood until your pet is FULLY vaccinated (which is typically around 16-18wk of age). Puppies are at a large risk for catching canine parvovirus (which can live in the environment for up to 1yr after exposure) and for catching an upper respiratory infection (which is often spread through the air and does not require physical contact with another dog).


  • Every puppy (with or without behavioral problems) can benefit from puppy classes and socialization.
  • There are many different types of training available now days (puppy classes, behavioral classes, one-on-one training, boot camps, etc…) – these can be easily Googled. There are too many to keep track off.
  • Potty training can vary depending on the time of year and the breed. If you adopt a baby Shih Tzu for Christmas, you might expect them to be fully potty trained in one year – this is because most small dogs hate the cold and/or snow, and some dogs are more stubborn than others.
  • We highly recommend crate training your puppy. Crate training has a lot of good benefits for you and the puppy.
  • Crates should be big enough for the puppy to stand up and turn around in, otherwise they should NOT have a lot of extra space. If they have extra space, the puppy can learn to urinate/defecate in the extra space and still be comfortable.
  • Crates can also be a good, safe space for your puppy. Especially if you have children, other pets, or visitors.
  • By crate training, it can teach the puppy to be comfortable being in kennels of any type. This is VERY beneficial if you have a family emergency and need to kennel your pet (including surgery stays, grooming visits, etc…).


  • ALL puppies should be a fed a PUPPY diet
  • For most puppies, they should be fed a puppy diet until 1yr of age. After they turn 1yr old, then you should slowly transition to an adult diet.
  • If you have a giant breed (example: great dane) then they should stay on a large/giant breed puppy diet until usually 18-24 months of age.
  • If you ever need to change your puppy’s brand of food, you should always slowly transition (over a two week period) to avoid vomiting/diarrhea.
  • Some of our recommended diets include: Hills Science Diet, Purina Pro Plan, Iams Eukanuba, Royal Canin, or Nutro.
  • Dogs need grain! Grain-free is a huge marketing campaign, started by Blue Buffalo.
  • It is a great idea to buy the same brand/flavor of food each time, to avoid causing vomiting/diarrhea.
  • Find a brand of food you are familiar with and can consistently afford.
  • Each brand of dog food will typically have a low-quality dog food line, all the way up to a high-quality food line. (Example: We highly recommend AGAINST using Purina Puppy Chow – as it is a low-quality brand. BUT we highly recommend using Purina Pro Plan, as it is their best-quality brand.)
  • Brands of food should also be sold across state lines, as this means they are FDA approved and meet nutrition guidelines. If there are only sold in one state, they do not require a FDA approval and can put whatever they want in their food. They also do not have to meet nutrition guidelines.
  • If you are interested in knowing what human foods and plants are good vs bad for dogs – please visit ASPCA’s website


  • ASPCA has a great website for general information, including toxic plants and foods, healthcare, and pet insurance

Pet Insurance

  • Not all pet insurances are created equal.
  • Many pet insurance companies will not provide coverage for pre-existing conditions so it is often best to get your pet health insurance while they are young and without medical problems.
  • How pet insurances work:
    • You select which plan you want – these can range from vaccine coverage only, all the way up to cancer etc…
    • Once you are enrolled and have coverage, you will pay your veterinary clinic directly (be sure to get an itemized receipt, as your pet insurance company will want this) and your pet insurance company will reimburse you, depending on your plan.
  • It is a good idea to get pet insurance with a company you are familiar with, as they are more likely to stay in business longer.
  • Many companies are starting to partner with employers and offer pet insurance as a benefit – check with your employer to see if this is an added perk.

Spay & Neuter:

  • If you are not planning on breeding your pet, then it is a good idea to have them spayed (female) or neutered (male).
  • Unfortunately, the veterinary society is currently very mixed as far as to when your pet should be “fixed”. So you will likely here a different recommendation from each person you know – so sorry!
  • Historically, pets under 40lb could be spayed/neutered two weeks after completing their vaccinations & pets over 40lb should wait til 6mo or older.
  • Research is currently being done on breed-specifics and to as when it is most beneficial to spay/neuter. This research is very slowly moving along at this time.
  • If you are planning on breeding, most people recommend waiting until your pet is 2yrs old before breeding.

Deworming Medication:

  • Every pet should receive multiple doses of deworming medication as a puppy
  • Usually most breeders will give the first dose of deworming (that usually only kills 1-2 types of worms) before sending the puppy to its new home
  • Veterinarians will give at least 2 doses as a puppy (that kills 3-4 types of worms)
  • You may or may not ever see a worm. Just because you cannot see the worm does not mean they do not have them.
  • Pets are dewormed due to the risk of spreading to humans and other pets. They can be spread from shoes, stool, ground contact, etc…
  • Pets should be dewormed at least once annually after completing their puppy series.
  • Pets that catch mice/birds etc… should be dewormed 3-4x annually.


  • Vaccines can be started as early as 5 weeks old. Most people will start vaccinations between 7-9 weeks old.
  • We offer a PuppyCARE Plan dependent on your pet’s age – feel free to call or text us for more information
  • Vaccinations occur every 3 weeks until 16-18 weeks of age then are needed every.single.year.
  • We do not accept any vaccinations done at home (IFA, CAL Ranch) – the vaccines sold there cannot be guaranteed on how they were handled, etc…

Stool Eating (Coprophagia):

  • Puppies eating their own stool or stool of other animals can be very disgusting – this problem is called coprophagia (eating of stools).
  • In humans, stool eating can be a sign of mental illness. Luckily, in dogs – it can be a very normal behavior (even though it is gross), as dogs sniffers are great – they don’t have very many taste buds.
  • When you find that a puppy has been eating stool, these are a few things to try to discourage it:
    • Pick up the stools as fast as they happen and wash your hands after handling stool
    • You may call/text to try CoproBan – an over-the-counter medication we carry that disflavors the taste of the stool. You typically would need to feed this with each meal for 10-14 days. It works for some pets and not for others. You will need to feed every animal in the house in which their stool is being eaten. Biggest downfall to CoproBan is if your pet is eating an outdoor cat’s (that isn’t yours) stool, then there is no way to fix this problem.
    • You can “booby-trap” the stools by placing a small amount of hot sauce on the stools. Unfortunately, some animals think this can taste better. Yuck.
  • Occasionally, you will have a pet that nothing you have tried works for. This is more on the rare side of things but it can happen.

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