A reader is planning on getting a new puppy, and wanted to know my top tips. Here they are!
Q: I’m getting a puppy for Christmas! What do you think are the most important things that new dog owners should know?
A: Congratulations on the beginning of a beautiful friendship. The love of and from a dog is one of the greatest things in the world. Here are my best tips on how to get a great start together.
Most people want to take advantage of the incredible advances in veterinary medicine, but some simply can’t afford it. The solution for many is pet health insurance. Several reputable companies offer pet insurance, and it can allow you to give your new dog top-notch care with much less worry about the cost.
There is no one-size-fits-all recommendation when it comes to frequency of vaccines. After puppy inoculations during the first two to four months of life and a booster dose at one year, core vaccinations (distemper, adenovirus, parvovirus, parainfluenza and rabies) — those recommended for every dog — are expected to provide immunity for a minimum of three years. Talk to your veterinarian about non-“core” vaccinations, such as influenza, that may be recommended in your particular area or needed more frequently.
Preventing accidents saves your dog and saves money. To protect your curious puppy from the No. 1 poisoning hazard, keep human and pet prescriptions, as well as over-the-counter products, safely locked away.
Your dog doesn’t have to hate going to the veterinarian. If you work with your veterinarian to keep early experiences pleasant — such as having the staff give your pup pats and treats on every visit — your dog will look forward to visiting the clinic.
You can save money on care without short-changing your dog. Price-shop for prescription medications, buy in bulk and keep your dog thin to help prevent development of joint diseases such as hip dysplasia or osteoarthritis.
There’s more in Pet Connection, the weekly nationally syndicated pet feature I co-write with Kim Campbell Thornton and my daughter, trainer Mikkel Becker.