Having a new puppy is somewhat like having a new baby- wonderful and overwhelming at the same time. And a quick trip to the pet store makes you wobble in your shoes! Many come out wondering, how much of this stuff do I really need? Let us share with you what we consider we might need when bringing a new puppy home.
# 1 Puppy Food. Simple, right? Not so! And asking for opinions or researching online often only adds to the confusion. There are many options and many opinions on what makes a "good" food. Generally, if your puppy is healthy and already eating puppy food, then best puppy food is the one they are already on. Changing diets is a common cause of diarrhea, inappetance or vomiting in newly acquired puppies. However, if your puppy is underweight, malnourished, parasitized or already has diarrhea, switching and try multiple new foods is also NOT a good idea and likely to exacerbate the problem. For problems puppies, try to keep them on the same food until you can consult your veterinarian as to the best feeding options for the sick puppy.
#2 Bowls for food and water. You may already have appropriate bowls at home. Ceramic and stainless steel are great for bowls. Plastic bowls can be okay but they are more likely to be chewed to bits or cause allergic irritation of the muzzle.
#3 Collar with Identification. Start with a collar that fits, don't have a puppy dragging around a large, loose collar to grow into. Large, loose collars are a choking hazard. And be aware, as puppies grow their collars need to be enlarged and even a new one purchased, otherwise they can cause encircling wounds as the puppy outgrows the collar. There are many options for collars, from the stylish to the practical. Leather always wears well, stands up to weather and is stylish. Web collars are practical and inexpensive and often your phone number can be stitched into the webbing for built in identification. Identification can be the standard tag that dangles or for no dangle noise use a tag that is riveted flat onto the collar or stitching into the webbing. Collars made with reflective materials are good for dogs that will be out at night or near night hours.
#4 Leash. Best leashes are 5-8 foot long and made of easy to hold material that feels good to your hand. PLEASE do NOT buy retractable leashes. Retractable leashes are easy to misuse and hard to untangle. If they pull out of your hand they retract to and "chase" the dog, sometimes scaring or injuring them. One of my favorite leashes is a slip on leash made of soft round rope with a rubberized hand hold. The slip on leash means no collar is needed to use the leash. NO RETRACTABLE LEASHES!
#5 Toys. Puppies don't need a ton of toys, but there are a few that are very helpful to have. A must is the Kong or similar hard rubber beehive shaped toy. The inside can be smeared with a taste of peanut butter or cream cheese for hours of licking and chewing fun. You can freeze diluted chicken broth in the Kong upside down in the freezer for a frozen toy treat that can soothe teething mouths. Small bits of food can be placed inside loose, or again frozen inside, to increase the chewing behavior. Having toys with a variety of mouth-feels helps encourage the teething puppy to chew and lets you see what your puppy prefers. Another good toy is the Flossie, otherwise known as a braided cotton rope toy. Dogs with softer mouths often like chewing on this toy that is believed to actually floss the teeth and keep the mouth cleaner. Balls are great, and the inexpensive tube of tennis balls gives alot of enjoyment to many puppies.
#6 Crate. A crate is a great training tool, helpful during travel and helps protect your home from your young, enthusiastic, energetic, curious puppy. Crate training will be discussed at length during your puppy's well visits. Consider if you will be using the crate when your puppy is an adult and buy the crate that will fit the adult dog.
Now, you have the basics you will need! Rest assured that at your first puppy visit the veterinarian will spend much time discussing puppy behavior and training as well as more general well care issues. Be ready with any questions you may have!
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