Your Puppy is Finally Home!
The first few days!
The first day usually goes pretty well, and your puppy will run around and play, and no doubt there will be lots of "ooooo's and awwww's" and puppy snuggles and kisses!
Your puppy may seem fine, but all of the new sights, sounds, and smells ... and you (yes YOU!) are very overwhelming to your puppy. All of the past 8 weeks worth of instincts and the socialization skills are being tested right now! At 8 weeks of age, your puppy's coping skills are just developing and change may be stressful, but this is still something your puppy needs to go through in order to learn how to deal with change in the future. Dogs do not like to show that they are in distress, and just because your puppy is playing and wagging it's tail ... keep in mind that your home and everything in it is new and be aware of the signs of stress.
Some of the signs of stress that are sometimes observed in the first few days:
-Lack of interest in food
-Sleeping a lot (may breathe heavily while sleeping)
Some puppies experience one of these symptoms, and other puppies experience them all, or none at all! If your puppy does show some signs of stress, just take a deep breath and *relax*!
If your puppy is panting a lot, offer your puppy a drink of water and allow your puppy to relax by some snuggle time, or some low key activity. Panting can be caused by too much exertion during play time (overheating), or it can be a coping mechanism. Observe your puppy, and as long as there are no other signs for concern, give your puppy a few days to relax. You can always call us at Pleasant Meadows or call your veterinarian if you are concerned.
If your puppy is not interested in eating food, try something a little more interesting than straight kibbles. A little bit of canned food will usually entice a puppy to eat something, and you can add some water to it as another way to ensure that your puppy is getting enough to drink. Just be careful not to feed anything that will upset your puppy's stomach. Table scraps, too many treats, or switching to a new brand of food too quickly can cause diarrhea. Our puppies usually eat anywhere between 1/4 to 1/2 cup of food 3 times a day, depending on the size of the puppy. If your puppy does not eat exactly the same amount once in your home, it doesn't always mean that it's a sign of stress. Sometimes it can just be a change in activity level, or because your puppy no longer has the same competitive drive to eat more food that would be present in a litter of puppies.
If your puppy sleeps a lot ... this can be a *good* thing! Sleep is a way of rejuvenating the body as well as the mind. If your puppy needs a good long nap ... it will help your puppy to wake up more refreshed! Puppies usually twitch or move some part of their body in their sleep (leg/toe or body movement), and if your puppy is in a deep sleep you may hear them make little barking/vocalizations and is usually a sign that your puppy is dreaming. Obviously, if your puppy is unresponsive to touch (puppy may not respond to sound right away if in a deep sleep!) when you pick them up or touch them in some way ... please go to the vet immediately! Puppies do sleep a fair bit and it's considered normal, most of their energy is in short bursts and they can sleep for hours and then wake up and be ready to go again. So another signal that your puppy may be stressed is when the sleeping is accompanied by your puppy wanting to go into a secluded area and sleep alone.
You can help avoid tummy upset and loose stools by feeding food that your puppy is already used to eating, and if you need to switch your puppy's food, do it gradually over a period of time! Please visit the link below to see what your puppy has been eating while here at Pleasant Meadows:
And if you must switch your puppy's food, please do so GRADUALLY using the mixing method illustrated below. Please do not try to "cheat" and switch a puppy over to a new food quickly as it can cause irritation to their intestines and may damage their digestive system. Click on the photo to enlarge!
We send all of our puppies home with 5 days worth of Probiotics which can help with the stress of going to a new home! Click the photo above for more information!
Food, Water, and Probiotics!
Let's talk poop!
If your puppy has loose stools just take a moment to evaluate the situation before you start hitting the panic button. When a puppy or dog is stressed, loose stool can just happen! Dogs have dormant parasites inside them at all times, and when a dog is stressed their immunity is weakened and these parasites can become active. Deworming only rids your puppy/dog of the active worms. So, if your puppy gets loose stools for a few days, just observe them (yes it's gross!) and if they don't return to a more solid state by 3-4 days then you should make an appointment with your veterinarian just to make sure that your puppy's immunity has gone back up and that your puppy doesn't need extra help (dewormer or medication) to fight off the little intruders! Loose stools doesn't always mean that your puppy is fighting worms or parasites -- they can occur for other reasons like ingesting something they shouldn't eat, if stressed in any way, like going to a new home/leaving mom and siblings, or if your puppy has a change in diet. So be aware of your puppy's surroundings and puppy proof your home, and be considerate of your puppy's stomach when making diet changes! Ensure that your puppy drinks lots of water to avoid dehydration if loose stools do happen. Stools that have a mucous appearance/texture and/or a *small* amount of blood can occasionally happen from stress, but it should *never* persist for more than 1-2 days and should be monitored *very* closely. Here are for some links to info on the different reasons a dog could get blood in their stool:
If bloody stools persist, it could be a sign of Coccidiosis which is a parasite that ALL DOGS CARRY INSIDE and is "dormant" until the puppy is stressed in some way. This is, unfortunately, something that can pop up, so you need to be prepared for it. It is a parasite and NOT a worm, and therefore cannot be treated with dewormers. Healthy adult dogs have an immunity towards parasites like Coccidiosis, but young puppies who are still developing immunity are at risk. To read more about it follow the link:
And as always, if you are concerned, please speak with your veterinarian.
Another source of loose stool can surprisingly be a change in water! Since we live in a rural area and all of our dogs drink well water, it can be a big switch for a puppy to all of a sudden drink "city water" which is treated with chlorine. Each water source has it's own unique mixture of "ingredients/chemicals" and a switch can upset a puppy's digestive tract. We mention this simply as a heads up to families, as there is really not much that a breeder can do about it unless we were to send every puppy home with water to mix during a transition phase.
The sorrowful "midnight howl" !
It's time for your puppy to go to sleep and all you hear coming from your puppy's crate is heart wrenching whimpering and howling!
Take a deep breath and as hard as it is ... stay calm ... relaxed ... and don't give up!
Dog's are pack animals and so it's only natural for them to feel upset when they are alone. But, in the wild, the wolf pack goes off to hunt and leaves the puppies in the den alone ... this is the equivalent of leaving your puppy in a crate. The only difference now is that your puppy has just "moved dens" and is insecure in your home. A whimpering puppy is not a bad puppy and it doesn't mean that your puppy is "traumatized by the crate" ... it simply means that your puppy is insecure.
Here's what you can do to help your puppy relax:
Set up your puppy's crate near you in your bedroom so that your puppy is "not alone". You can move the crate farther away from your bedroom after your puppy becomes more comfortable with your home.
Before placing your puppy in the crate for the night, make sure that your puppy has gone to the bathroom! Take away your puppy's food and water at least 1-2 hours prior to bed time and give your puppy ample time to eliminate!
Take some time to get your puppy used to the crate. Even if your puppy slept through the night while still at Pleasant Meadows -- you still need to introduce your puppy to the crate again in your home! Leave the crate door open and lure your puppy into the crate with a toy or a treat and allow your puppy to become comfortable. You can practice closing the door if your puppy is relaxed and calm. If you close the door and your puppy gets upset and starts to whimper, simply distract your puppy for a moment with treat, toy, or even your hand/fingers and open the door only when your puppy is clam. Your puppy may still whimper for a period of time when it's actually time to close the crate door for the night, but it's a step in the right direction and each night will get easier and easier!
Watch for Hypoglycemia!
Puppies can stress when adjusting to new homes. Stress can also be caused by too much handling. Do not overtire your new puppy. You should not allow your puppy to run and play for periods longer than 1 hour at a time. The puppy needs quiet time to rest and eat. A playpen works well for this purpose.
Do not just assume your puppy is eating. The best way to make sure is to put a small handful of food on or close to pups’ bed several times a day and if this disappears you know the puppy is eating something. You can also soften some dry food with warm water to entice your puppy to eat until it is adjusted. PUPPY MUST EAT. Food and water should be available AT ALL TIMES. Puppies (especially tiny pups) eat a small amount at a time and need to replace this frequently to prevent hypoglycemia.
For small puppies 3 lbs and under ALWAYS keep Corn Syrup, or Maple Syrup, or Honey on hand and if your puppy displays any symptoms of a hypoglycemic episode -- it is better to treat as a preventative measure morning and night for the first 2-3 weeks to help maintain sugar levels. It can also be given mid-day if you feel puppy is acting tired or sluggish. A dime to nickel sized amount of any of those syrups mentioned can be given to your puppy to lick off a spoon or your fingers. You can also rub the syrup on the gums or the roof of your puppy's mouth if he will not lick it off a spoon or finger.
Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can occur without warning when a puppy goes to a new home, misses a meal, becomes chilled overtired or exhausted from too much handling or playing.
Small puppies are more likely to develop hypoglycemia because they have less ability to store and mobilize glucose. Puppies need frequent meals to prevent hypoglycemic crises.
The signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia include depression, lethargy, glassy eyes, weakness, unsteady walk, seizures, nervousness, and tremors. In severe cases, the puppy may become unconscious or comatose which can lead to death if not treated immediately.
If your puppy shows any of the signs above, give a small amount of syrup (½ teaspoon). If puppy is unconscious, rub the syrup on gums. Warm puppy on heating pad. Puppy should respond within 5 to 10 minutes. If puppy responds, follow up with some softened food or some canned food. You should take puppy to your vet so that he can make sure sugar level is normal and do a fecal to check for coccidian or other intestinal parasites.
Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar is a possible problem with all small breed puppies. Veterinarians who are unfamiliar with small breeds will often mis-diagnose the condition as viral hepatitis or encephalitis. As a pet owner, it is important to recognize the symptoms of hypoglycemia and know how to treat it. Hypoglycemia is EASILY treatable in the early stages, but can be fatal if allowed to progress.
If caught in the early stages, treatment is simple. Rub the syrup on the puppy's gums, under the tongue, and on the roof of the mouth. Get a heating pad or heating blanket and slowly warm the puppy to proper body temperature. If the puppy responds, all is well. Feed a quality canned food right away (you may want to mix it with egg yolk) and then monitor the puppy to be sure that the condition does not reoccur. Be sure to eliminate the stress that caused the episode if at all possible.
It is important to understand that just because a puppy has an episode of hypoglycemia, it does not mean that the puppy is truly "hypoglycemic." True hypoglycemia is a chronic condition caused by overproduction of insulin by the pancreas. Even though the pancreas may normally function properly, small puppies can still have an isolated hypoglycemic incident in reaction to stress. Hypoglycemic incidents are almost always preceded by a stress of some kind. Some examples of common stresses include weaning, teething, vaccinations, a change in environment, over-handling, cold temperatures, intestinal parasites, infections, etc. Many puppies simply play too hard and stress their system or forget to eat. Hypoglycemia most often occurs when the puppy has not eaten for several hours. This is not always the case, however. A puppy can have eaten recently and still show signs of hypoglycemia if his system is stressed and the food has not been digested and assimilated.
A summary of important reminders is as follows:
1) always keep Corn Syrup, Maple Syrup, or Honey on hand. This is the quickest way to revive a hypoglycemic puppy.
2) If you ever see your puppy becoming listless, or laying on his side and acting unresponsive IMMEDIATELY rub the syrup on his gums, under his tongue, and on the roof of the mouth. Slowly warm him to normal body temperature with a heating pad. Feed him as soon as he responds. Call your veterinarian if the puppy does not quickly respond.
3) See that your puppy eats often and maintains a proper body weight.
4) Do not over-handle your puppy. Be sure to allow him rest time and alone time. Like all babies, puppies need to have a regular schedule of rest, meals, and play.
Walk, Play, or What?
Daily exercise is good for both your pooch's mental and physical well-being. Exercise can help your puppy avoid arthritis and other problems with his joints later in life. Dogs are also prone to the same types of obesity related illnesses as humans, so exercise is crucial to helping them keep off the pounds. Basically, getting your dog in the habit of regular physical activity while he's young is the cornerstone to a long and healthy life and helps his physical development.
Puppies also need exercise for mental stimulation. Moving around keeps them from becoming bored and mischievous. Many owners find that taking their dogs out for regular outdoor play and walks cuts down on the behavioral issues like incessant chewing, digging, and nonstop barking that make owners want to pull their hair out.
How much is enough?
Make sure you're consistent with the amount of exercise your puppy gets. You need to help him build his stamina, and the only way he can do this is by exercising regularly but with caution. At the puppy stage, he's much too young to be doing rigorous activities that he will be more able to do as he grows older.
The amount of exercise your puppy needs depends on his age, breed, type of exercise, and energy level. A general rule is that puppies need five minutes of exercise per month of age up to twice a day. In other words, a 3-month-old puppy will need 15 minutes of exercise while a 4-month-old puppy will need 20 minutes. This may take the form of low-impact activities like swimming (supervised at all times!), playing tug 'o war, tossing a ball or toy, etc. You can also take your puppy out for short walks on a leash. However, if he starts to sit down, give him time to rest. If he does not start walking again, you may have to carry him home.
Most adult dogs should participate in some form of physical activity for at least 30 minutes and up to two hours every day. Your puppy's genetic will determine when it's time to move him up to an adult dog exercise. If he won't get any larger than 25 pounds (11 kilograms), then he can start at around 9-10 months of age.
Please visit our Puppy Care and Training Tips page to help you get started on your next chapter with your puppy!
Endochondral Ossification of the Elbow joint in the dog
Age 1 week - 12 months.
This video shows x-rays taken throughout a dog's first year of life and its very interesting to see how your dog is still developing up to a year old. We're sharing this to help people understand how high impact or repetitive motion exercise like jogging or running beside a person or a bike too early can damage the growth plates in your puppies joints. Damaging the cells can stop or alter growth and can lead to deformities in the bones and joints later leading to instability and degeneration like hip or elbow dysplasia or the early onset of arthritis.
In our Pleasant Meadows Puppy Purchase Agreement we ask that ALL families avoid high impact or repetitive motion exercise until 1 year of age.
Credit to Physio Evolution for this video: https://www.facebook.com/PhysioEvo/videos/201964403744475/?v=201964403744475