Like any new pet owner, the excitement you feel bringing home your new family member is a wonderful experience. At Petland, we understand your excitement and share it too, since we are all animal lovers and have our own pets that we care deeply for.
Sometimes, even though you are filling all of your new companion's needs, he may not feel well. Your puppy's symptoms are similar to our own when we aren't feeling good. Your puppy may have a disinterest in playing, may stop eating and/or sleep more than usual. This behaviour is particularly worrisome if he has only been in your home for a short period of time. It is difficult to know what behaviour is normal for your new companion. Is he not eating because he doesn't like his food? Is his bowel movement normal? How much is he supposed to sleep? Your pet counsellor can answer many of these questions; however, excessive sleepiness, watery bowel movements or vomiting can indicate a more serious problem.
To maintain a dog's overall health, routine veterinarian exams are required. For puppies, the usual vaccination schedule is 7-8 weeks, 12 weeks, 16 weeks, and 20 weeks. After 20 weeks they will receive annual booster vaccinations as per a schedule put together with your veterinarian. There are 4 core vaccinations that are administered to protect the puppy from Canine Distemper, Canine Parvovirus, Canine Adenovirus (aka hepatitis), and Rabies.
Canine parvovirus is probably the most common viral illness of dogs at the present time. It is much more common in puppies than it is in adult dogs because they have an immature immune system. Parvovirus is a virus that attacks the lining of the digestive system, preventing the dog or puppy from absorbing nutrients and liquids. It is excreted in the feces of infected dogs, and if anyone – human, dog, bird, etc., steps in (or otherwise, comes in contact with) the excrement, it can quickly spread. Once spread, parvovirus can last a long time (9+ months) in the environment.
It can be hard to successfully vaccinate a puppy for parvovirus. If the mother was vaccinated, she will transfer immunity to parvovirus in the colostrum, or first milk. These maternal antibodies may be present in the puppy for up to 20 to 22 weeks, but may not be protective the entire time. There is a “window of susceptibility” where the maternal antibodies are too low to work, but are so high that they neutralize the vaccine. The length and timing of this window differs from litter to litter, though typically it lasts from several days to a couple of weeks.
Parvovirus is specific to dogs alone and cannot be transmitted to humans or other animals of a different species, such as cats. Symptoms usually begin with a high fever, lethargy, depression and loss of appetite. Usually they will stop eating and develop diarrhea. Generally, it takes five to 14 days from the time of exposure for dogs and puppies to start showing symptoms and to test positive for the virus.
- There is no cure. Treatment for parvovirus is mostly that of supporting the different systems in the body during the course of the disease. Through your veterinarian, supportive care may include fluid therapy, regulating electrolyte levels, controlling body temperature and other necessary needs.
- The best prevention is adhering to a vaccination schedule, starting between 7-8 weeks of age.
- There are other causes of diarrhea in puppies and dogs that are not linked to parvovirus. A change in environment, a change of diet and ingestion of foreign material are just a few. It is always best to contact your veterinarian should your puppy have more than 2 bowel movements of diarrhea and/or is vomiting.
- Should a puppy or dog contract parvovirus and then come back home, any other dogs on the premises must be current with their vaccinations. Fecal matter from the treated dog should be picked-up immediately.
For more information on canine parvovirus, please contact your local veterinarian or visit canadianveterinarians.net.
Hypoglycemia isn't a virus or a disease. Hypoglycemia is a reaction of the central nervous system and is caused by inadequate sugar in the blood stream. Although any pet can display hypoglycemic symptoms, it is most commonly seen in the toy dog breeds during their first three months of life. Hypoglycemia is a temporary condition that is brought on through certain actions your puppy makes.
Hypoglycemia usually occurs in response to one of the following stresses:
- Going to a new home
- Skipping a meal
- Becoming exhausted from too much playtime
- Over stimulation or anything that depletes their limited reserves of energy
- Falling/tumbling (off a couch, chair, stairs or even your lap)
If your puppy becomes sluggish, he will need to have his blood sugar level raised immediately. Force a finger tip or two of high-calorie supplement into his mouth as soon as possible. Cuddle him and reassure him. Once he seems to perk up, offer him small amounts of food every ½ hour for the next two hours. If you feel that your puppy's behaviour does not seem normal, contact your veterinarian.
The signs of hypoglycemia include weakness, depression, drooling, pale gums and possibly seizures. If not treated immediately, hypoglycemia can lead to coma or death. Should your puppy exhibit hypoglycemic symptoms, a high-calorie supplement must immediately be given to him.
- Ensure your small breed puppy eats often. They will be happier if allowed to graze at meal times or if they are given four – five meals a day as opposed to two – three meals a day.
- Keep your puppy on the same food he has been eating. Switching foods abruptly may cause diarrhea/dehydration, which will contribute to your puppy's stress level; something you want to avoid during his new home transition period. A premium canned wet food will also need to be offered at meal times (usually mixed with his dry food) to encourage him to eat and consume extra calories.
- Make sure your puppy's water is always accessible to him. Remember, he's small! He needs a lower dish to drink from.
- For the first few days, try not to over stimulate your puppy. Limit the amount of people and handling within the first three – five days. Like children, your puppy won't know when enough is enough. Once he is settled, expose your puppy to different people and situations, making sure to watch for signs of over stimulation and following a routine nap/quiet time schedule.
- Ensure your puppy has lots of opportunity for rest. For a small breed puppy, they may require more sleep than a larger breed puppy. This is because their metabolism is much higher and therefore the energy expended tends to come in spurts. He will need a quiet area, such as his kennel, (see Petland's Give Your Dog a Den tip sheet for an explanation of denning needs) to rest and re-charge at regular intervals.
- We recommend giving your puppy a high-calorie supplement twice a day for the first 30 days at home. If you run out of the high-calorie supplement, corn syrup may replace it in the interim.
The key to preventing hypoglycemia is making sure that your puppy is eating and drinking regularly!
HOT SPOTS (aka Moist Dermatitis)
Hot Spots can affect both puppies and adult dogs. A hot spot is a localized inflammation of the skin or a bacterial infection. It is caused from trauma to the skin, usually by itching, scratching, or excessive licking. Itchiness can be brought on by parasites, allergies, ear or skin infections, stress or boredom, dirty or matted fur, or moisture trapped in the coat from swimming or bathing. This itchy discomfort makes the puppy or adult dog more susceptible to further infection.
Treat the hot spots by bathing with hot spot shampoo or applying an anti-itch cream or spray. Be careful to not bathe too frequently as this can further irritate the skin, and always dry the dog thoroughly.
Hot spots may appear as only a mild irritation to the skin with redness centralized to one area. Other times it may cause fur loss or cover a larger area. Excessive licking or scratching to specific areas may be an indicator of hot spots.
CLEANLINESS & SAFETY
All pets can potentially carry diseases that may be contagious to people. Young children, infants, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems and the elderly are at greater risk of infections and should use caution when in contact with pets or their environments. Regular cleaning of your pet's environment with a pet safe cleaner may help avoid the spread of contaminants.
Hygiene procedures such as washing your hands before and after handling your pet and/or after having any contact with their habitat, is a necessary routine. Children should be assisted with hand washing and always have adult supervision when interacting with pets.
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