November 24, 2021
At the end of May, my wife and I picked up a Lab puppy. Sadie’s role is to start learning the ropes so she can eventually take over our eight-year-old lab which slows down with the seasons. Anyone who has faced the reality of an older dog and the need for a new recruit knows there are big shoes to fill in this situation.
As we all do, I wondered if there was anything I could do differently with this pup that I haven’t done with my old duck dogs. To figure this out, I spoke with Dr. Craig Grant, who spends his working hours at the Shelby Center Hospital For Animals in Memphis, Tennessee.
It turns out that most of what he had to advise me involved prevention in many, many forms.
It’s not good for a dog to be overweight. This is simply not the case, whether it is 10% heavier than the ideal weight or 50%. According to Grant, starting a puppy the right way weight-wise involves following manufacturers’ recommendations and simply learning to read a dog’s body. “Most of us have forgotten what a fit, sized puppy looks like. Fitness is the best way to keep your young dog at the right weight, and it’s not a one-size-fits-all feeding strategy. .
Grant is right, of course. Two cups of kibble might be ideal for my pup and be 25% more calories than needed for another lab of the same age. He also mentioned that this mission is more easily accomplished by only feeding kibble and keeping track of it.
This is where many of us run into trouble because we don’t factor treats into a puppy’s overall intake. In fact, it’s the number one reason for the obesity epidemic in all dogs. Just as a can of Mountain Dew and a few Twinkies each day can help us gain weight over time, a few extra treats in a dog’s diet often provide way too much nourishment. To protect your dog’s joints, give him the best chance of a long life, and keep him hunting and active, it’s essential to pay attention to the calories going into them. Our responsibility here begins the moment we bring our new puppy home.
Punch Drunk Puppy Love
If you want to see a professional dog trainer reach out, insist that your four-month-old pup meet the Rottweiler just as someone walks down the street. Puppies are silly and like to jump on other dogs to play. Some dogs, mostly young dogs, welcome this kind of brutality. Older dogs, or dogs with a low tolerance level, or very anxious dogs will not.
A trainer once told me that he sent a puppy home with a family that had been harshly corrected by an older dog, and it cost the puppy an eye. If your pup needs to meet other older dogs that he doesn’t live with (another story), control that situation in every way possible. This one can go south in an instant, so be very careful here.
Puppy-proofing the house
Every vet I’ve interviewed has had horror stories of dogs eating household items that can dangerously clog their plumbing. Grant says the most common are underwear and socks, but he’s heard of or been involved in cases ranging from tubes of Gorilla Glue to buzz bait, which is a bass lure you definitely wouldn’t want to have. in your guts.
As someone raising a puppy and nine-year-old twin girls, this category scares me. My daughters have a very, very poor understanding of our home’s puppy protection and what it actually means. In fact, I should probably start building up an emergency vet fund, because the amount of hair ties, random clothes, food wrappers, and other assorted puppy killers left in our home is a constant source of frustrating for me. We’re working on it, but the potential for us to be the source of another “you won’t believe this” story worth telling at a vet housewarming party is all too real. .
Like most potential health issues, whether it’s slow weight gain, gum or tooth problems, or swallowing an impossible toy toy, the best way to deal with them is to remain vigilant with preventive maneuvers. You can’t protect young dogs from all the random things that might happen to them, but you can do a lot of defensive work to keep them as healthy as possible while they’re still young, and of course, throughout. of their life.