Dr. Kyoko Yoshida
Hudson Animal Hospital

How will proper puppy care impact the life of my dog?

Proper puppy care—including giving good nutrition, good veterinary care, and vaccinations—are very important to keep the puppy's health. So obviously, from day one when you get a puppy, I would certainly like you to provide the best care so the puppy can live a happy and long life.

Why is it important to start good puppy care on day one?

Puppies love routine. So from day one, you want to have a good routine, including oral health care, nutrition. Exercising the puppy and training are important, too. Do the latter as soon as you get the puppy, so they can learn quickly as well.

How soon should I bring my puppy in to see a veterinarian for their first exam?

That depends on when you get the puppy and the age of the puppy, and then how many vaccines the puppy has gotten before. So you definitely want to ask the breeder or adoption place to see when the puppy needs to be seen by the vet because, according to their age, the scheduling for the vaccines will vary. If you are not quite sure, of course, we're happy to let you know.

What are some common health problems in puppies?

The number one health issue here in New York City is diarrhea. Puppies are curious animals, so they will just potentially eat things on the streets or something in the house. Puppies can have sensitive stomachs, so if they have too many treats for their training, that can also cause diarrhea. Vomiting is another common health issue as well. Sometimes we also see conjunctivitis (eye infection), upper respiratory issues, and skin infections.

What are some signs and symptoms of health issues in puppies?

The health issues with the puppy, as I described before, are diarrhea, vomiting, inappetence too. If the puppy is not showing a great appetite, that could be a sign of health issues. Another common thing would be coughing, sneezing, and just not feeling good. Puppies sleep for a very long time, but if you feel like they're acting very lethargic when they’re awake, that's another sign that you should be concerned.

What are the signs of a healthy, thriving puppy?

Healthy, thriving puppies are very active in between the long naps that they take, so that certainly is one of the good signs of being a healthy puppy. Of course, good appetite and just simply acting like a happy puppy are signs of good health.

When should I start training my puppy?

I would say day one. As soon as you get the puppy, I think you need to really think about how you want to potty train. Do you want the puppy to have the wee-wee pad at home or not? You have to make that decision and train the puppy right away. Also, some good commands are very important as well. So I always recommend having at least several sessions with professional dog trainers, so you can just properly teach your puppy what to do and what not to do.

What will my vet be looking for when examining my puppy for the first visit?

At our hospital, we check top to bottom, and just basically make sure that the eyes are great, baby teeth are coming in well, or if it's at the age of losing teeth. We always want to make sure the adult teeth are coming well. Obviously, we figure out whether the heart sounds well—does a puppy have a murmur or arrhythmia? Those are important as well. We also make sure they’re well orthopedically, so we make sure there's no joint or bone pain. That's what we're looking for, and of course the skin health...making sure the puppy doesn't have fleas or a skin infection. We basically check everything. Puppies can't talk, so it's very important for us to examine everything.

FAQ - Puppy Care

Dr. Kyoko Yoshida
Hudson Animal Hospital

What should I ask my veterinarian at my puppy's first appointment?”

The very first question that you should ask is what kind of vaccine schedule your puppy should have. It really depends on how many vaccines the puppy has received prior to coming to see us. So please make sure to bring all the records that you received from your breeder or adoption place so we can formulate the schedule specifically for your puppy's needs.

Another question to ask is what kind of vaccines your puppy should get. There are some core vaccines that every puppy should get, including rabies and distemper. There are other vaccines we recommend for certain puppies that go outside more often or go to the countryside and potentially get exposed to the ticks. So please let us know what the lifestyle of your puppy will be and we can start to formulate a vaccine schedule catered to your puppy.

You should also ask what kind of heartworm prevention or flea and tick prevention your puppy should get. Also, be sure to mention any training problems that you have, whether it's potty training or biting issues.

Make sure to find out when you should get your puppy spayed or neutered. That's a very good question. It really depends on the breed and size of your puppies, especially large breed puppies. We're starting to recommend that you may want to wait to spay and neuter your dog later because there's a medical benefit from it, but again, it really depends on the size and the breed of your puppy. So of course, please ask us a question about when would be the best time to neuter or spay your puppy.

Oral care is also very important to address, as you need to train your puppy so they can get used to being their teeth brushed. So please ask that question. And let's see, the next question would be, how often does my puppy need to go to the veterinarian? And again, that really depends on how many vaccines they've received before. In the case of distemper shots, we like to see your puppy get the vaccines three to four times, depending on when the first vaccine was started. So depending on that, we'll formulate the schedule specifically for your puppy. It will usually be about two to three times, depending on how many times the vaccine was given to the puppy.

You’ll also want to know what your vet will be examining during the puppy visit. We basically examine everything from head to toe. We're looking for anything that's orthopedic related—are the joints and long bones are they growing nicely? Does the pup have any pain? We make sure the belly feels great. Are the baby teeth coming in nicely? We check the ears, eyes, heart, and, most importantly, we make sure the puppy does not have a heart murmur. So we check everything.

And lastly, oral care—it’s very important to train your puppy so he or she can get used to being their teeth brushed. So please ask your veterinarian about how to best handle your puppy’s oral care.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (212) 706-4088, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.