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So you may remember me mentioning this before, but we got a puppy in March – a male Boston Terrier named Max.  And we are in love with him!  But when I say I had no idea what I was getting myself into, I mean it!  Being a first time puppy owner, I had a lot to learn.  More than I ever imagined.

I spent a lot of time searching the internet and learned a lot.  But I had to look in a lot of different places to get all the information I needed.  So for those of you that are thinking of getting a puppy, I’m going to be sharing the things I learned along the way and information I found in my search.  By all means I’m not an expert but I love sharing what I have learned.

Our puppy is now 6 months old and like I said, we absolutely love him!  But he sure is a lot of work.   And I seriously knew nothing.   The first thing I needed was a vet.  You should take your new puppy or dog to a vet within the first week that you got him.   Our vet came highly recommended by not only the place we got Max, but by many people I spoke with afterwards.

The relationship between the dog and veterinarian is just as important to the dog’s well-being as that of a human to a General Practitioner. In fact, the dog-vet relationship may be even more important as the furry friend cannot say what’s bothering him, so knowledge of medical history is vital.

The simplest way and the best way to find a vet for a new puppy is to ask for referrals. Friends or relatives who have had several dogs will be more than happy to refer or dissuade. Beyond that, the owner needs to decide how he or she feels about the vet. Is there a good personal vibe?

Any puppy purchased should have had its first rabies shot and been de-wormed. Ask for the paperwork showing this. If buying a purebred from a kennel, ask for the puppy’s history and take it to a vet before purchase. For instance,  hip dysplasia which affects many larger breeds like Labrador Retrievers.   Any dog, just like any human, can develop a health condition, but a little research can spare a lot of heartache and huge bills.

For first time owners there are a few important things you’ll want to keep in mind.  It may be mandatory where one lives that a puppy is micro-chipped at the very first vet visit. If the puppy is lost or stolen, it can be traced and brought home. Also, be sure that the puppy is vaccinated for distemper as well as kennel cough right away.

You may have heard about giving your dog a tick and flea treatment on a regular basis, but you also want to make you give him something for worms each month as well.  This was something that I didn’t realize until a few months after we had him.  I knew he had been de-wormed before we got him, but I had no idea I had to continue that.  We were giving him something for the ticks and fleas but not the worms.    They sell products that cover all of them which I found was the easiest way.  I put a reminder on my calendar of when it’s time to give him more.

The veterinarian will be a great source of experienced advice for everything from recommended trainers to safe and hygienic kennels. Do be aware that for those services, as well as recommendations regarding dog food, the vet may be receiving a commission based on referrals and sales. As such, weigh the vet’s opinion against those of friends or the dog’s breeder.

Lastly, unless one is serious about dog breeding, make arrangements for spaying or neutering to be done within the puppy’s first year of life. This will prevent many health disorders.   We took care of this right when Max turned 6 months because we have no plans on breeding him.

Treat your puppy’s life just the same as one treats one’s own body, and perhaps a little better than that!