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Suggestions for New Puppies

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  • As an adult, do you want your puppy to poop and pee on paper or outside?
  • If you want your puppy to poop and pee inside on paper, we recommend getting a plastic box, cutting a hole on the side large enough for the dog to walk though. The door should be cut 1 inch off the bottom so that if the dog floods the box, the urine will not run through the door. One advantage of using a box is that you can take the box with you if you travel or move and the dog will know exactly where to go. If the puppy is a male, when he starts lifting his leg to pee, he will urinate on the side of the box rather than the wall of your home.
  • Most puppy owners will want their puppy to poop and pee outside. In this case, you should start taking him outside right away as long as you have an enclosed or fenced yard so that your puppy will not come into contact with other dogs or other dog’s poop. If you do not have an enclosed yard, you should paper train the puppy until she has had enough vaccines to safely go outside.
  • Puppies are little poop and pee factories. Puppies who are under 8 weeks old will probably poop and/or pee every hour while they are awake. Puppies 8-16 weeks old will usually need to poop or pee every two hours. When your puppy is sleeping, you do not need to wake it up to have it poop and pee. Because you cannot expect a puppy less than 6 months of age to ask to be let outside, you must remember to take the puppy outside and setting a timer is a good idea.
  • Put a leash on your puppy and take it to the area of your yard where you want your puppy to poop and pee as an adult. Give it a command word but do not carry on a conversation. Do not chatter. Stand, watching the dog for two minutes. As soon as the puppy finishes squatting to poop or pee, IMMEDIATELY praise the dog profusely and offer it a small, low fat treat which you are keeping in your pocket. When you get back into the house, the puppy may be allowed to stay in the room with you until it is time for it to poop and pee again. On the other hand, if the puppy does not poop or pee, there is no praise or treat. The dog is not reprimanded. However, the puppy is taken back into the house and put into a crate. A crate is a box similar to a cat carrier that is large enough for the puppy to stand up and turn around but not so large that the puppy and poop or pee on one side and sleep comfortably on the other side. You may put a towel and a special toy that he only gets in the crate. You could try something like a kong with a small amount of peanut butter smeared inside. Half an hour later, the puppy is again taken outside and the process is repeated.
  • If you are using paper and a box simply turn the box around so that the door is up against a wall so that when you place the puppy in the box the puppy cannot walk out of the box. Give the puppy a command word, stand there and watch for two minutes and the rest of the procedure is the same as the outdoor training.
  • This technique is called crate training. Most puppies are completely trained within 1-2 weeks. It works so well because you are using positive reinforcement only, and the puppy is not given an opportunity to poop or pee in places it should not. The more often a puppy poops and pees in an inappropriate area, the more the puppy believes it is ok to do so and the harder it becomes to train the puppy. For this reason puppies that are over 4 months of age and not house trained may be more difficult to train.
  • It is very important to remove the odor of old pee spots. If the dog can smell urine spots in the house, he/she will try to urinate again in those areas. For this reason, be sure to clean up any accidents in the house with an enzymatic cleaner like “urine off” (sold here) or “Nature’s Miracle.” If you are unsure of any old accidents, purchase a black light at the hardware store, turn off the lights, and any old stains will fluoresce. These are the areas that need to be cleaned with the enzymatic cleaner.
  • The hospital does carry two books (one on house training only and one on most training issues including house training) that you may find helpful. And we highly recommend purchasing one of these inexpensive books because it does cover house training in more detail.

It is very important that your puppy stay in a safe environment because puppies will pick up things in their mouths and try to chew and swallow anything that will fit. Just like a one year old child, you cannot expect them to have any common sense about what is dangerous. The kinds of things we have had to surgically remove include: dental floss (they love it because it smells and tastes like old food), strings over 3 ft long, super balls, bones of all types, small plastic toys, underwear, socks, pantyhose, earrings, jewelry, kitchen towels, latex exam gloves, peach and nectarine pits, cherries, medication, batteries, coins, corncobs, audio tapes, any type of human food, buttons, beach balls, foam balls, any ball under 3 inches in diameter, rawhide knots, etc. Make sure all your houseplants are non toxic and inaccessible to the puppy. Your puppy will find things under furniture and under cushions that you had no idea were there. If you are in the same room as the puppy you can often hear the puppy chewing on something and can get it away from him before he swallows it.

If you are not available to consciously watch the puppy please keep your puppy confined to a pen or a small room that you know is completely puppy proofed. This means that if it’s a bathroom or laundry room, the cabinet might require a childproof latch so that there is no exposure to cleansers or poisons. Remember puppies can jump up on their back legs and reach things higher than you think. Also remember that most bathroom garbage cans are small enough that a dog can easily get into its contents. If you find that puppy has chewed up a handbag or a shoe remember that it was the human’s fault for letting it be accessible to the puppy. Most items like this are irresistible chew toys for young dogs.

Pet stores sell folding pens to help contain puppies. This is a convenient place to keep a puppy when it cannot be watched. You can have a small bed, food, water, and paper for poop and pee inside the pen.

There are some chew toys sold in pet’s stores that are truly not safe for dogs. Never assume that because a toy is marketed for dogs and cats that it is safe.

The toys that are unsafe are anything rock hard such as real bones and cow hooves. If it is a large bone, it is harder than the dog’s teeth, and sooner or later all dogs will have slab fractures from chewing on large bones. A good rule to keep in mind is if you can’t make a groove or mark in a chew toy with your nail, it is too hard for your dog’s teeth. The smaller bones are equally dangerous; chicken bones, pork bones, rib bones, etc can all be fractured into small sharp pieces that can lodge in the esophagus, stomach, or bowel, cause perforations, death, or vomiting and diarrhea. Many of these bones also have a large amount of fat attached to them, and while your pet may enjoy chewing on them, the fat can cause a variety of problems ranging from life threatening pancretitis to vomiting and diarrhea.

Tennis Balls and the toys made out of tennis ball fabric are too abrasive and will cause severe wearing on the teeth exposing sensitive dentin. While throwing and retrieving tennis balls is usually not as much of a problem as gnawing on the tennis balls, we suggest a smooth ball or a defuzzed tennis ball.

Pig’s Ears are very high in fat and every pig’s ear that has been tested by the FDA has tested positive for Salmonella. Interestingly, dogs can handle Salmonella without any problems however we do worry about the public health problems caused by dogs chewing on something with Salmonella and then licking their owners. Furthermore, because pig’s ears are so dearly loved by dogs can trigger aggressive behavior in some dogs when an owner or another dog approaches the dog while it is chewing on a pig’s ear.

For most dogs Rawhide (Without Knots) is usually a safe chew toy. However for the shorter nosed dogs that are more prone to choking, a chunk of rawhide can present a choking hazard. Therefore I do not recommend any rawhide for Pugs, Shih Tzu, Pekinese, Bull Dogs, and Boston Terriers. Please be aware that when a pet or a person is severely choking there is no sound, because in order to make choking sounds there must be air moving through your throat. If you do see that your pet seems to be choking, open it’s mouth, sweep your index finger in the back of its throat, and usually you can dislodge whatever is causing the animal to choke.

Squeak Toys are relatively safe for small dogs, however if your dogs starts to tear apart a squeak toy, it is very important that it is taken away from the dog before it is ripped to pieces small enough for the dog to swallow.

Recommended toys are knotted ropes, gum-a-bones (has knobs to stimulate the gums), kongs and other hard rubber toys that can be stuffed with low fat treats, and nylabones (but not the really hard ones).

Puppies can pick up parasites directly from their mother’s milk and through the placenta before they are even born. The worms can develop in the puppies by the time the puppies are one month of age. If you have a puppy that has worms, it is very important that all the poop be disposed of in the garbage so that it not allowed to disintegrate into the grass or soil in your yard. The worm eggs can stay in the soil for years and possibly re-infect the dog or expose your family to these parasites. Therefore the doctors at San Bruno Pet Hospital want to be sure that there is little to no risk to your family (including your pet). On the first visit, the doctor will want a stool sample for a direct and fecal centrifugation examination. In addition the puppy will be given worming medication in intervals of twice every three week. Over the counter medication that is often used by breeders is effective less than 50% of the time. A direct fecal will check for one celled parasites like Giardia and some abnormal bacteria such as Campylobacter as well as RBCs and WBCs. The fecal centrifugation test may detect worm eggs, but keep in mind that if a worm is too young or too old, it may not shed eggs regularly and for this reason all puppies are wormed twice and all adult dogs who are not taking Heartgard will be wormed at least once a year regardless of the fecal test results.

We assume that puppies eat everything including animal poop, therefore we strongly recommend that all puppies take heartworm medication once a month because it contains an intestinal worming medication in addition to the heartworm medication.

Heartworm is a foot long worm whose larvae are carried by mosquitoes. It is far more deadly than intestinal worms because it lives in the heart and pulmonary arteries. For more information, please visit

Dogs and cats who go outside need to have some type of flea product applied regularly. The newer forms of flea control such as AdvantageAdvantix, and Frontline are very safe and effective. Frontline and Advantage were tested by feeding them to the dogs and cats at ten times the recommended dose without any adverse affects. In addition, these products are applied to the surface of the skin and are not absorbed through the skin. In cats, these products should be applied to the back of the head where they cannot be groomed or licked off. In dogs they should be applied as a series of spots going from the back of the head down to the tail. Pull the fur forward and put a drop or two directly on the skin in six to ten spots going down the back. Do not rub it in.

The three products have slight differences. Frontline works against fleas and ticks, and it needs to be applied once a month for tick control. Advantage and Advantixstart to wear off at the end of the second week after application and are completely gone by the end of the fourth week. While these are good products, they do need to be reapplied at least every four weeks. Advantage works against fleas only, while Advantix works against fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. Advantixcannot be used on cats it is for dogs only. Frontline is not washed off by bathing, but you should not bathe within two days of application. Advantage and Advantixare partially washed off with regular shampoos; however, you can bathe with a soap free shampoo without removing these products. We carry two soap free shampoos, Relief (Oatmeal based), and Allergroom, an excellent shampoo.

There are also products, such as Advantage Multi and Revolution, that will take care of fleas and heartworm.

We do not recommend using any of the older flea products such as: Flea collars, flea powders, Biospot, and flea sprays. All of these products contain pesticides that can be harmful to your pets, and possibly to the owners.

Foxtails and Cattails are two types of wild California grass, which are extremely common. They are most dangerous for your pet when the grass is dry. Dogs may eat them, and awns can lodge in the tonsils, gums, esophagus, and stomach. Please do not allow your dog to eat any wild grass. In addition, the awns can get into the dog’s ears, up their nose, between their toes, or anyplace the seeds can settle in the fur. The longer your dog’s fur is, the greater the hazard. For this reason, if your pet is around a lot of foxtails we may recommend shaving your pet’s feet June through October. If your dog inhales a foxtail up it’s nose, it will suddenly start violently sneezing. This is such a huge sneeze that your pet’s chin will seem to hit the ground. Your dog may furrow it’s nose to one side and may have a bloody discharge from that side. After five to ten minutes, the foxtail will become coated with mucus. After that, the frequency of the sneeze may be diminished, but the violence will not change. If you see this pattern, it is important that you take your pet to a veterinarian very soon. Do not feed your pet because the veterinarian will have to put your pet under anesthesia in order to thoroughly check the nasal passages and remove the foxtail.

If your dog’s adult weight will be over 50 pounds, please feed a large breed puppy food only. We prefer dry food because that will help to keep your puppies teeth cleaner. Do not feed any extra vitamins, minerals, or high protein food. Large breed puppies have a rapid growth spurt between four and eight months of age. These supplements will tend to speed up their growth pre-disposing them to hip, elbow, and other orthopedic problems later in life.

A recent study by Purina showed that thinner animals have significantly fewer orthopedic problems than overweight animals. You should be able to easily feel your dog’s ribs but not see them from a distance. You do not want to overfeed, nor do you want to underfeed. And remember that treats can add significant calories. Some examples of lower calorie treats might be carrot sticks and other veggies, unflavored rice cakes, thin apple slices, or “lean treats” broken into small pieces.

If your puppy weighs less than five pounds, it is important that you make sure it eats at least a tablespoon of food every five hours while it is awake. These tiny puppies are pre-disposed to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) if they don’t eat often enough. It is particularly important that you pay attention to this within 24 hours of a vaccine.

The smaller the puppy, the more careful you have to be about offering any human food. Remember that if your puppy weighs 10 pounds and you weigh 150, you must multiply the amount you are giving your puppy by 15. If you would not eat 15 times the amount you are offering your puppy, then it is definitely unhealthy for your puppy.

In general, we do not recommend feeding any table food to your dog. It encourages begging, stealing, and gastro-intestinal upsets.

While puppies and kittens can be awkward in their gait as they mature, you might watch for changes in gait that could indicate a problem. If limping persists for more than a day, you should call for an appointment. Limping indicates discomfort or pain otherwise the dog would be using the leg normally!

Whatever your puppy gets used to on a regular basis will seem natural and acceptable. And everyone trains better with positive rewards rather than negative reprimands. Food or treats usually help the training. It is important to pick a low fat, healthy treat that will not cause an upset tummy. The treat should be small, and it should be accompanied with verbal praise.

All pets should become accustomed to handling at an early age. This means that every day you rub the puppies’ gums (this will get your pet ready for tooth brushing), bounce your finger on it’s tongue (This will get your pet ready to accept pills from you), rub the eyelids (this will prepare your pet in the event that you might need to apply eye medication), handle the ear canals, lay your pet on it’s side, hold it down, rub the tummy and chest, massage a foot, and trim a nail or two. As soon as you are done, immediately praise your puppy or kitten and offer a treat. Puppies and kittens should enjoy being touched virtually everywhere on their bodies. When teeth brushing and nail trimming are started at a young age, it is more likely to be tolerated.

Socialization of puppies is learned, so it is important to expose puppies to many different situations so they learn not to be fearful. Car rides when you run errands and visits to the vet just to get weighed and say hello are just a few ideas to help with socialization.

We also encourage you to enroll your pet in a puppy class, and we have brochures for some of the better dog training classes in the area. The receptionists will give you a packet of helpful brochures with your first visit. If for some reason you do not receive the packet, please ask the receptionists.

If you feel you are having a behavioral problem, please discuss this with your veterinarian or trainer. Undesirable behaviors such as barking, pulling on the leash, growling, snapping, jumping up, chewing furniture, house soiling can usually be helped with simple training exercises. We also have a behaviorist at the hospital once a month. The receptionist or veterinarian can explain more about this.