After three years of having a dog-less house with the passing of our beloved Chocolate Lab Ruby, the Olsens are getting a new puppy. Part of me is still in denial, and part of me is apprehensive as to what we need to do to prepare for a new puppy, which is something that we had not had to do in about 13 years. So now that the purchase is done, it is time to ready the home for our newest member, prepare the prior residents (our cats) for invasion of another four-legged friend, and purchase the supplies and equipment needed for the puppy.
Preparing the Home
We all know that puppies get into everything. So we will need to act like a forensic detective and get down on our hands and knees to look for things that a playful puppy might foresee as fun. Items like electrical cords should be tied out of reach. Dangerous products such as cleaning supplies and other items should be locked in a cabinet or placed out of reach. Any valuable items or family heirlooms need to be kept out of reach so they do not become your puppies new chew toy. Lastly, unless you want to be like Imelda Marcos and purchase a new pair of shoes each week, it is best to make sure your shoes are stored away in a closet and the door is secured.
Puppies are always looking for their next meal, so garbage can be enticing to them. In order to prevent them getting into the trash, it is wise to have trash cans that have sealed lids.
The puppy should not have free reign of the house, so you will need to have gates and barriers to keep him in his allowed space. This will also include a kennel for his nighttime bed, which I will talk about later in the article.
No puppy will be an entirely indoor dog unless it is in a big city with little green space. So here in Madison County, Illinois, we will want to examine the outdoor area so that there are not any chemicals or poisonous plants that will entice the inquisitive puppy. Your new puppy may be the cutest thing that you have ever seen, but your neighbor may not have the same opinion. And they always say that a good fence makes good neighbors. So it may be important to make sure that you have one that doesn’t allow your pet to roam free.
Items to Have
As I eluded in the last section, in my opinion, it is best to kennel train your pet. No, this is not seen as “doggie jail” to the pet, but as I explain to my clients, it is best to treat a kennel as it is their bedroom and their place of security. I recommend that you get a larger one as they get larger. It should start as one that is just big enough for them to sleep in. If it is too large, that will allow them to urinate and defecate in the kennel and may inhibit the potty training outside.
I am not an advocate for “potty pads.” I feel that they are just condoning bad behavior by the puppy. The learning puppy will get confused by our laziness that more or less tells it that “they can go here but not there in the house.” To a puppy, this thinking may be problematic.
Obviously we want food bowls as well as toys to keep it occupied when you can’t give it the attention it needs. With the toys, I recommend that they be they type that are indestructible like “Kong toys.” Avoid those that they can easily chew up and have the possibility of ingesting.
A new owner will want to have a collar and a leash. When you take your pet out on walks, it will be necessary to have these to protect your pet from injury by other pets or getting ran over by a vehicle.
Grooming brushes are important to have especially with those puppies that will have long wooly coats. They will need to be brushed frequently to prevent matting and tangling.
I am not a big proponent of treats, but they would be alright to have on hand, but I caution the owner to use them in moderation.
Bringing it Home
The big day to bring the puppy into your household is here, so what should you do?
Many people erroneously allow their new puppy to roam free and explore the house. This is sensory overload. Too many new places, new smells and people at once may confuse him. Instead, let him explore a designated area, perhaps where his food and water are. Or he can acclimate himself to a small puppy-proofed space where his kennel is. Then introduce him to the rest of the house one room at a time, skipping the areas that you want off-limits to him.
It is best to introduce your new puppy to its’ new owners one at a time. I know that they are cute and cuddly, and everyone wants to meet him, but that can create too much excitement for the puppy and may stress the puppy out. So it is best to let him meet each family member quietly and make it rewarding and pleasant.
As previously mentioned, puppies love to chew, so make sure that he has a safe chew toy. If he starts to chew on anything else, redirect him to the chew toy.
It is important that your new puppy know where its’ sleeping quarters are. Puppies sleep between 15-20 hours a day, and likely they will drop in their tracks. It is important to take him to his crate when he seems to be ready to nap and at bedtime. Contrary to what most people think, this is not “doggie jail” as the puppy will associate this as a safe and secure place.
House training starts on day one. Your puppy needs to know exactly where you expect him to do his business. Prevent accidents by monitoring the puppy and take him outside accordingly. This helps him to learn where not to go. Accidents happen, but don’t scold the puppy. Clean up the accident with an enzymatic cleaner.
Teaching your new puppy basic behaviors like watch me, sit, or down are important. With positive reinforcement based training, you can encourage good manners in very young puppies.
Obedience training for your new puppy is always important. It will teach basic manners that can lead to all kinds of fun dog activities and provide socialization with other dogs and humans.
In a few weeks, I will be reliving the excitement that our family experienced 13 years ago. Getting a new puppy can be an exciting and stressful time in any household. It teaches our children to be responsible and committed. So if you need advice or any tips in preparing for the new family member, please do not hesitate to contact or call the Olsen Veterinary Clinic at 618-656-5868.
Parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that is of particular concern to puppy owners due to the severity of the symptoms, the weak immune system and possible death of the puppy. The virus manifests itself in two forms. The most common form is the intestinal form, which is characterized by vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, lethargy and lack of appetite. The less common form is the cardiac form, which attacks the heart muscles of very young puppies, often leading to death.
The intestinal form of the virus is passed through oral contact both directly and indirecty with the virus. Clinical signs will show most commonly about 5 to 10 days after exposure. It can also be spread through fomites, feces, or through infected soil and once an uninfected dog comes in to oral contact with the infection, the virus can spread quickly through the lymphoid tissue in the dog’s throat. After replication the virus will then spread to the bloodstream where it attacks cells in the bone marrow, lymph nodes, and intestines. Parvovirus then destroys those fast growing cells, depleting the body of the white blood cells and the lymphocytes, along with destroying the cells in the intestines. Puppies can then become toxic and septicemic due to the poisoning of the blood system from the virus. The puppy has the inability to absorb nutrients and will become dehydrated and weak quickly from lack of protein and fluid absorption. The puppy’s abdomen may become painful on palpation and the heart may beat rapidly.
The cardiac form seen in puppies is usually fatal. It is less common and is usually spread to the puppy in utero or when the mother is pregnant with them. The virus damages the heart muscle which aren’t strong enough to withstand the virus. The death of the puppies with this form usually come on suddenly and the puppy shows little sign of distress.
Parvo is usually a disease of young puppies from four weeks to six months of age or in the older immunosuppressed dog. Time is one of the most significant factors in whether or not a treatment of parvo will be successful: thr earlier the virus is detected and the treatment begins, the better the outlook for treatment. If the virus is caught quickly enough, treatment can begin and death can be prevented. So if your pet has any of those symptoms, it is best to seek veterinary care immediately. The mortality rate is around 91% if left untreated, but with treatment mortality rates drop to 5% to 20% when treated aggressively. When presented with a possible parvo puppy, most veterinarian’s protocols will include a thorough physical examination, necessary blood work such as a complete blood count and chemistry and either an EIA or hemagglutination test on a feces sample to look for signs of parvovirus.
A puppy should always be hospitalized in order to receive treatment. Treatment usually consists of administration of IV fluids and colloids, administration of anti-nausea medications and injections of antibiotics depending upon the dog and the veterinarian administering the treatment. The administration of the fluids serve as both to rehydrate and rebalance the levels of the electrolytes to maintain healthy functions. Sometimes blood plasma transfusions may be needed to provide passive immunity to the sick individual with developed antibodies. After the initial treatment, the puppy will be weaned off additional fluids once they are able to keep fluids down. Bland foods that are easy on the gastrointestinal system is usually recommended along with oral antibiotics to help fight potential for infection due to the low white blood cell counts. Any infections following the treatment of parvovirus can lead to death because of the weakened immune system.
Because parvo can be a devastating virus, one of the most significant things any dog owner can do is prevent infection of their dog. The first step in preventing it is to properly have their puppy vaccinated based on the recommendation of their veterinarian. Most puppies derive immunity through their mother’s colostral antibodies that they receive with the first milk that they get after birth. Because of this, here at the Olsen Veterinary Clinic, we recommend starting a vaccination schedule at 6 to 8 weeks of age and then vaccinate every 3 to 4 weeks until the puppy is 16 weeks old. Our recommendation is not the number of vaccinations that it gets, but when they get them at their chronological age.
To prevent the spread of the parvovirus, it is important to decontaminate where your puppy has been. It is also important to realize that even though your puppy survived the treatment, it can still contaminate other healthy dogs with the virus through their feces. The parvovirus can survive living in the soil for as long as a year so it is crucial to decontaminate completely areas where and infected or successfully treated dog eliminates its waste. The only chemical known to kill parvo is bleach at a 15:1 ratio. The general advice is to wait about 6 months before bringing a new puppy home. It is also advised to have the puppy completely vaccinated before bringing them in to a home that has been recently exposed to the parvovirus.
The old adage of “happy neighbors are good neighbors” applies here. An important step is to notify your neighbors and friends if they have been in contact with your premises or pet. Since parvo can be spread from dog to dog in addition to being spread through feces and soil, it is important that your neighbors know. They may simply expose their pet to parvo by simply walking their puppy on your grass or even by walking across your yard and then taking it home. It is important to share the information that you have learned with your neighbors because if they see similar clinical signs and symptoms, they can act on it promptly.
Parvovirus is a very destructive and very rapidly moving disease that can kill an otherwise healthy puppy in a matter of days, but with proper precautions it can possibly be wiped out. All it takes is regular vaccinations of all dogs in addition to treatment and appropriate decontamination of infected areas. Even if a dog is successfully treated and recovers from parvo without proper decontamination of the home area, it is possible to spread the disease to other dogs in the community. It takes a combinations of responsible pet ownership, good veterinary care, and vigilant decontamination of infected areas in order to prevent and hopefully eliminate this virus.