Puppy season is just around the corner, so it’s a good time to consider adding a furry member to the family. Whether your new addition is adopted through a local shelter or no-kill rescue, or a breeder across the country, a healthy and well-balanced puppy is of the utmost importance. Here are some things to look for to help set you up for success with your new family member! These tips apply to kittens as well.
Age: Make certain that the puppy you are bringing home is at least eight weeks old. Puppies separated from their mother and litter mates too early often fail to develop appropriate social skills, such as learning how to send and receive signals to other dogs, acceptable mouthing pressure and limits in play-wrestling. Play is important for puppies because it increases their physical coordination, social skills and learning limits. By interacting with their mother and litter mates, puppies explore the ranking process and essentially learn how to be a dog.
Please note, if your breeder is offering puppies younger than 8 weeks old, we highly suggest finding another breeder or going through a rescue. “Backyard breeders” are on the rise and typically are not interested in breeding the healthiest, happiest puppies from healthy, pedigreed parents.
Appearance: Make sure the puppy you are interested in has clear eyes with no mucus draining from the eyes or nose. Upper respiratory infections and kennel cough can be common among shelter pets. So keep a close eye on your pup for first week or two after adoption.
Rethink the adoption if the puppies and/or parents are dirty or have a strong odor. If the breeder will not let you see their living space or meet the parents, I would recommend going elsewhere.
Parvo: Canine Parvovirus is an acute illness – meaning symptoms develop suddenly. Without immediate treatment, puppies will often not survive. Symptoms to look for include bloody diarrhea, fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, rapid weight loss and vomiting. If your new pup develops any of these symptoms, see a vet immediately.
Temperament: While puppies at the shelter can be reserved, depending on their situation, they will typically warm up in a loving home. Puppies at a breeder should be friendly and outgoing. Select a puppy that meshes well with you and your family and you should have a wonderful life together!
As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local pet store if you have questions on this or any pet-related topic.
Got a question for Mike? Email your question to AskMike@MetroParent.com.