Preparing For a Puppy – A Mini Guide on Green Puppy Care
A Mini Guide to Puppy Care with An “Eco-friendly Twist”
Green Puppy Care: The Adoption Process
The time of year has come when puppy births and adoptions are very common. If you’re considering bringing home a new, furry bundle of joy (or if you already have one), this article can help you prepare yourselves, your home, and your new friend for an awesome lifetime experience.
Choosing the Right Puppy for Your Home
The first thing you need to decide is what kind of dog you want. Are you looking for a purebred, or will any type do? Are you looking for a large dog or a small dog? Do you want a dog that is active, calm, or protective? These are some of the many factors you need to consider before you bring home a puppy.
Animal Planet’s website offers a simple quiz that will help you find which dog breeds are best suited for your lifestyle, preferences, and location. You can take the quiz here.
One thing I will recommend, however, is to visit your local animal shelter before you go to any breeder or pet store. Although mixed breeds are very common in shelters, you can also find purebreds for a fraction of the breeder or pet store costs. Adoption from a shelter typically includes micro-chipping and a partial refund once the spay/neuter procedure is completed. In addition to that, between 3 and 4 million dogs and cats are put to death in shelters every year, including young ones and healthy ones, all because no one would give them a home. Not to mention, adoption a puppy from a shelter is the greenest way to go, because they are (in a sense) being recycled from one home that could not keep them to another (hopefully) better home that will.
Another site worth checking out is PetFinder.com, which includes listings from shelters across the country.
Once you’ve narrowed the choices down, the next step is to spend time with the puppy of your choosing before you adopt her. All members of the household should be able to spend time with the puppy before adoption, including existing pets. This will allow you to get an idea of how the puppy will interact with everyone and if there are any problems that may need to be dealt with (such as negative or jealous behavior from an older pet).
Also, don’t be afraid to ask the shelter, breeder, or store employees questions about the puppy.
- Has she been vaccinated yet?
- Does she have any health problems?
- What are her eating habits like and what food does she prefer?
- How often does she need to go to the bathroom?
- Does she have a favorite toy or blanket?
- How well does she socialize with other animals or people?
- What are her sleeping habits like?
All these questions and more can help make the transition much easier for everyone involved, especially the puppy. If you choose a particular breed, it will also help to do some research on the breed, so you’ll have an idea of what to expect as they grow older. This will include things like behavior, grooming needs, exercise requirements, health issues, and so forth.
Please note that if the breeder or facility refuses to answer your questions, or will not let you spend time with the puppy before adoption, it may be best to look elsewhere. In those cases I would also recommend reporting them to the authorities (or at the very least, a group that deals with breeders, such as the American Kennel Club). This is because the breeder or facility may not be providing the best care or living conditions for the puppies (or their mothers) and as such, will need to be dealt with accordingly.
Now, it should be noted that the best time to adopt a puppy is when they are between 8 and 12 weeks (or 2 to 3 months) of age. Smaller dogs, like a Chihuahua, are best adopted at 12 weeks because they are so small and fragile. A larger breed, like a Golden Retriever, can be adopted as early as 8 weeks.
BEWARE In addition to asking questions, you should also inspect the puppy yourself, to determine how healthy she really is.
Here is a list of key things to watch for:
- The nose should be cool and moist.
- Frequent sneezing or nasal discharge is not good, neither is collapsing nostrils on Brachycephalic dogs (those with a flattened face, like a Bulldog or Pug).
- The gums should be pink (a sign of good health). Pale or light-colored gums may indicate anemia.
- There should not be a soft spot on the top or dome of the skull.
- The eyes should be clear and bright; pupils should be dark, with no white spots or lines.
- Tear stains on the muzzle, swollen or inflamed eyes, extra eyelashes, or eyelids that turn outwards may be signs of health problems.
- The ears should be in the correct position for the breed (such as straight up or flopped over). Please note that it may take up to 6 months for this to happen with certain breeds.
- The tips of the ears should have plenty of fur; bald or crusty-looking ear tips may be a sign of mange or another skin condition.
- The inside of the ear should be clean and smell sweet.
- If the ear has an odor or wax buildup, the puppy may have ear mites.
- Frequent shaking of the head and ear scratching may indicate an ear canal infection.
- The puppy should breathe in and out with no problems. If the puppy has a flat chest along with trouble inhaling, there is a good chance she has an airway obstruction.
- Check the puppy’s heartbeat by placing your hand on her chest. If it is particularly rapid, it may indicate a heart defect.
- The coat should be bright, shiny, and full of fur (long or short, depending on the breed). Keep an eye out for sore spots, hair loss, excessive itching, and other signs of parasites or skin infection.
- The legs of the puppy should be straight and their movement should be smooth.
- Legs that bow in or out, flat feet with spread toes, and weak spots between the wrist and foot are all signs of structural problems.
- If the puppy is limping or not walking properly, she may have a sprain or injured foot pad.
Next week we will be continuing on the Mini Series of Puppy Care and Preparing your home for your new family member. If you found this topic on Puppy Care interesting or wanted to submit a photo of your puppy, we would love to hear from you. We may even feature your puppy in a future post at Natural Pet Grocer. To find out more about natural products for your pet be sure to check out www.naturalpetgrocer.com today. We thank you for stopping by and to raising a “Happy, Healthy Pet, One Home at Time, Naturally”.