Puppy Survival Kit!

Hi Everyone!  So I usually see an influx of puppies to the animal hospital right after the holiday season.  I love this time of year. The hospital is filled with playful, happy and healthy puppies and kittens.  Whenever clients bring in a new family members, my associates and I give our “puppy talk” to get them ready for this fun new adventure.  Carrie has my speech memorized because I have given it to her 50 million times to help with her puppy, Newman.

Making Your New Puppy Survival Kit

  • Find a trainer early – as early as 8 weeks old. It is always better to have a professional trainer show you the proper tools and methods to work with your puppy.  As dogs get older, they develop habits and become more difficult to train.
  • Crate training is the easiest way of house breaking your puppy.  Here are some great articles on how to get started- Crate Training and House Training.
  • Puppies chew and tear apart everything in sight.  Choose toys at the pet store that are indestructible and avoid stuffed animals with stuffing or noisemakers inside. I like products from Nylabone and Kong.
  • Put away your garbage, make sure they can’t get near the toilet paper, and pick up anything from the floor that is not a toy for your puppy.  Puppies eat everything and surgery to remove a foreign body is not uncommon in puppyhood. I promise this one small tip could save you a lot of stress and money.
  • Play with your puppy’s paws and nails, clean their ears weekly (ask your veterinarian to show you how) and use a dog toothbrush set to get them used to cleaning their teeth at a young age. Getting them accustom to having their nails, ears, and teeth fussed with will help them be more comfortable with the process when they are older.
  • Bathe your puppy every week or 2 to get them used to bathing and grooming.
  • Stay informed on parasite control and place your puppy on monthly flea and tick and heartworm preventions.  My picks are Heartguard for heartworm prevention and Nexgard for flea and tick prevention.
  • Spay or neuter your pet (please see my previous blog- Why Should I Spay or Neuter my Pet?).
  • Make sure your puppy is on a vaccination protocol recommended by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).  Discuss with your veterinarian what is needed for your puppy based upon demographics and where you live.
  • I highly recommend pet insurance! One of my favorites is ASPCA.

Puppies are THE BEST!  They are fun, adorable, loveable, and definitely entertaining.  I hope these tips help you get started into your journey of becoming a pet parent.  Although puppyhood is hard and can be stressful at time, it goes by in a blink of an eye.  Squeeze your cute pup and takes lots of pictures!  All the work and dedication in the beginning will be worth the lifetime of love.



 This is my adorable puppy patient Mabel and her big brother Pete! They melt me!

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  1. Dr Birken, our furever Westie will be home in 3 1/2 weeks- can you pls recommend a few brands of dog food for Westie puppies & also training with puppy Pads do you think it’s worth the money? We’ve tried to prepare for his arrival as we would a baby! lol but food concerned about the brand because we want him around furever- Thank you for your time and expertise.

    1. Thank you Vernessia for your support on our blog:) Congrats on your new pup! How exciting! The main point I stress to my clients are to make sure the dog food is AAFCO approved (this is like the FDA of the dog food world) Being AAFCO approved means the food has been tested and is balanced for your pet. The 2 dog food brands that I prefer are Hills Science Diet and Royal Canin food. These foods are made in America and have strict quality and health guidelines that must be followed. There are a lot of great options of dog food brands, but again being AAFCO approved is the most important. Make sure the food is puppy formulated until they turn 10 to 12 months of age and then you can switch over to an adult food. Puppy food has more calories and fat for growing puppies! You can absolutely train your new pup with puppy pads, but can still use the crate training technique to accomplish this goal. Puppy pads verses outside house breaking is a personal preference for your lifestyle and what works best for you and your pup. Hope this information helps and make sure to send us cute pics of your new puppy. I love Westies! They are a great breed!Good Luck!