Puppyproofing - before you let your puppy loose in your home or yard, check the following safety hazards.
- Poisonous plants - our non-exhaustive list of poisonous plants for cats, amy of which also apply to dogs
- Medicines - ibuprofin, in any dosage, is toxic to dogs
- Electrical and phone cords left dangling
- Keep toilet lids closed (puppies can drown or drink the water which contains chemicals and other toxins)
- Make certain they cannot get in the fireplace.
- Open stairways (kittens, puppies, cats and dogs are at great danger in home with a 'half wall' or even open rails on an upstairs room. They can easily fall through or jump over a half wall, pluging down to the floor below! Take precautions!)
- Human food (especially chocolate) and accessible garbage (especially any kind of bones - bones can either splinter and perforate the stomach or intestines, or form an intestinal blockage)
- Needles and/or thread; knitting and/or crocheting materials
- Rubber bands (which can wrap around the intestines)
- Plastic wrap or bags (the dog can eat, or strangle or suffocate on)
- Styrofoam (especially packing "peanuts") which the puppy may eat
- Cigarettes (puppies may eat)
- Cellophane (turns glassy in the stomach and can cause internal lacerations)
- Christmas tree needles, tinsel and decorations
- Open refrigerators, dishwashers, microwaves, ovens, washers, dryers - always check for puppy before shutting or turning on any appliance!
- Keep your workshop off-limits (puppies will jump at moving objects such as drills and power saws - may also swallow screws, nails, wire and other small parts)
- Cleaning products and other chemicals
- Fences that have loose posts or are easily escaped from
- Compost or other waste material (may contain toxic molds)
- Litter box (both litter and waste may be of interest to curious puppy)
Emergency Numbers: Keep the phone numbers of your vet, an emergency 'after hours' clinic, and local poison control center, posted by your phone. The number for the National Animal Poison Control Center is (888) 426-4435 - they may charge $65 for a consultation.
Outdoors: When allowing your puppy outside, make sure your yard is secure. Also, monitor weather conditions - extreme temperatures (heat or cold) are difficult for all pets but especially bad for puppies and older animals (see our article on heatstroke). Keep in mind that puppies are artful escape artists because of their size and can hurt themselves easily if left unsupervised outside. Leaving your new puppy outside all of the time by himself may also have an impact on your relationship with him or lead to behavioral problems. As the puppy gets older and you want to let him roam the yard for longer periods of time, consider purchasing a doggie door, to facilitate re-entry into the home if the dog tires of being outside or weather conditions change. Pet doors also allow a fire escape and can assist with housetraining. If you cannot install a pet door, read out article on winter / summer outdoor safety for dogs.
Find a veterinarian immediately and establish a relationship. Waiting until you have a sick animal is not the time to find a vet you like and feel comfortable with. Make sure to ask the vet about who would you contact during the hours their clinic is not open. Some vets treat their own emergencies and other vets send you to an animal emergency clinic. Keep the phone numbers of your vet and an emergency 'after hours' clinic (you may want to drive by the emergency clinic so you know how to get there) readily available. Also, keep a vaccinations/worming schedule and all other health information in a place you can easily locate.
The AMVA recommends the following vaccinations for puppies:distemper, canine adenovirus-2 (for hepatitis and respiratory disease), and canine parvovirus-2. Other vaccines include leptospirosis, coronavirus, canine parainfluenza and Bordetella bronchiseptica (for kennel cough), and Borrelia burgdorferi (which causes Lyme Disease). Your dog's lifestyle and circumstances will play a large role in what vaccinations he needs - talk with your veterinarian about the best vaccination plan for your puppy. If you have adopted your puppy from CAP, the puppy's vaccinations will be up to date, he will be wormed, spayed/neutered, and checked for heartworms.
Fleas: Do not use flea collars, first because their effectiveness is questionable and second, because flea collars can cause skin sores on long-haired dogs due to the concentration of poison around the neck. Rather, a good rinse or monthly single dose of products such as Frontline or Advantage (available from your vet) is a better solution to the problem of fleas. Consult your vet for the best option. Flea products contain toxic substances and their use should be minimized to the extent possible.