As a new parent, whether your child is two- or four-legged, you want them to experience all that life has to offer by being properly prepared for the world. Puppies are the same as human babies when it comes to the care and attention they need to become a happy, healthy, thriving adult. With planning, patience, and perseverance—and treats—your adorable bearer of puppy breath will grow into a delightful family companion. Start your new pooch off on the right paw by following these four simple steps for success. 

#1: Feed your puppy a diet formulated for proper growth

Although feeding your new pup the same food as your senior dog would be convenient, your puppy will miss out on important nutrients vital for their growth. Your puppy’s brain, joints, and structure are still developing and, without the correct balance of essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, they will not grow properly, with lifelong consequences. For example, giant-breed puppies should be fed a different diet than a small-breed puppy, or an adult giant-breed dog. Without a proper diet, a young Great Dane can develop joint issues by growing too quickly, and may suffer from orthopedic pain and abnormalities for the rest of their life. Proper nutrition can be confusing, given pet-food manufacturers’ marketing ploys, so trust in your Animal Medical Hospital of Naples veterinarian to steer you in the right direction.

#2: Set your puppy up for social success

Without adequate socialization as a puppy, you may end up with a fearful, anxious adult dog. Socialization is much more than puppy parties—it’s the act of positively introducing your puppy to new people, places, pets, sounds, sights, surfaces, and experiences, to create a well-adjusted dog. Essentially, your puppy should have several new, positive experiences each day during their socialization period, from 6 to 14 weeks of age. A well-planned puppy preschool class provides excellent socialization and training benefits, although ideally, your puppy should remain with their mother and littermates until they’re at least 8 weeks old, but preferably 10 weeks. Puppies who remain longer with their littermates and mother become well-versed in proper canine behaviors, and better adjusted, less fearful, and less anxious adult dogs. 

#3: Protect your puppy from the perils of parasites and infectious diseases

Protection, whether against intestinal or external parasites, infectious diseases, lack of training, poor nutrition, or improper socialization, is key during your puppy’s first year. To provide a healthy foundation for your new pup, lifestyle-appropriate vaccinations and parasite prevention are crucial. Like human children, puppies require a series of vaccination boosters to mount an appropriate immune response that will protect them against potential threats. If a booster is missed in the initial puppy vaccination series, your pup will be at risk for infectious diseases that could be fatal. 

Parasite prevention is also essential, to keep your pup healthy and disease-free. Fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and intestinal parasites are responsible for a vast array of illnesses, ranging from mild itching to deadly heartworm disease. As your puppy grows, check their weight each month, to ensure they receive the proper parasite prevention dose for their weight. Drop by our hospital monthly, and we will help put your pooch onto the scale, until they’ve leveled out in weight.

#4: Invest in a health insurance policy for your puppy

Puppies are known for getting into mischief, which can occasionally result in expensive emergency medical bills. To avoid forking over your entire savings account for your puppy’s third sock-removal surgery, invest in pet health insurance when you first welcome your new pup home, to avoid many pre-existing condition stipulations, and ensure you have financial backing during accidents, illnesses, and injuries, along with wellness care, such as dental cleanings, vaccinations, prescriptions, and spay or neuter surgery.

Looking for more guidance on keeping your four-legged pal happy and healthy? Follow our info-packed blog posts for new pet-care tips each month. If you’ve recently welcomed a furry bundle of joy into your life, set your new pup up for success with a wellness visit. Call us to schedule an appointment, and start your puppy off on the right paw.