How to Track Your Puppy's Health in the First Year
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Congratulations! You're the proud owner of a puppy. It's important to take steps now to ensure great puppy health. Louise Murray, DVM, director of the ASPCA's Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City and author of Vet Confidential (Ballantine, 2008), offers these pointers for your puppy's first year.
Puppy Health: Preventive Care
Talk to friends to find a veterinarian you can trust. Within a week of bringing your puppy home, take him for a checkup. The doctor will perform a physical and start keeping a detailed medical history.
Puppy Health: Vaccines
The overvaccination of pets is currently a hot topic, Murray says. The question is, however, not whether to vaccinate but which vaccines to use and how often. What she calls the 'core vaccines'—those for parvovirus, distemper, adenovirus type 2, and rabies—are essential. 'These shots protect your dog from diseases that are very real, very common, and very dangerous,' she says. Additional vaccines may be necessary based on where you live, where you take your dog, and whether you travel.
Puppy Health: Diet
Choose a reputable brand of dog food and discuss your choice with your veterinarian. In his first year, your puppy will be on food that is specifically geared toward younger dogs and will likely eat three times a day rather than once or twice.
Puppy Health: Spay/Neuter
An excellent measure against pet overpopulation, this procedure ideally should be performed between ages 4 and 5 months, which is before a female dog goes into her first heat and before a male enters puberty. A female dog who is spayed before going into heat is 2,000 times less likely to get breast cancer, Murray says. Males who are neutered before entering puberty have fewer behavioral issues, such as aggression toward other dogs and urine marking.
Puppy Health: Flea, Tick, and Heartworm Medicines
Most dogs should be on medicine year-round to prevent heartworm, a life-threatening parasitic infestation, Murray says. Fleas, often seen as just an annoyance, can actually cause severe skin problems and even anemia. Ticks carry multiple diseases (including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever). Your veterinarian can prescribe effective preventives for these two problems.
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- adp_description_block167Understanding Puppy Food Nutrition Labels
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How much do you know about the food you’re buying for your puppy? When shopping for puppy food, pay attention to these three sections of a dog food label.
1. The Ingredient Panel
This section lists all the ingredients that make up the product. The ingredients are listed in descending order according to weight before cooking. In dry food, look for a source of high-quality animal-based protein: chicken or lamb, for example. Dogs thrive on animal proteins.
Manufacturers who use large amounts of vegetable proteins might be saving money by providing basic — but not optimal — nutrition. You should also avoid artificial colors and flavors, which offer no nutritional benefits.
2. The Guaranteed Analysis
Near the ingredient panel should be a chart of percentages called the 'guaranteed analysis.' These figures reveal the basic nutrient makeup of the dog food's formula and protein content. The minimum percentages of protein and fat and the maximum percentages of fiber and moisture (water) should be listed.
3. The Manufacturer’s Name and Address
This information must be included on the label by law. A toll-free number or web address for the manufacturer may also be listed. Manufacturers who list a phone number, such as IAMS™, generally have a high-quality product and welcome consumer calls and questions. If you would like information about IAMS products, visit our website or call us toll-free at 800-525-4267.
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