5 mistakes new puppy owners really need to avoid, according to TV vet Luke Gamble
Vet Adventures star Luke Gamble offers advice to everyone who has bought a dog during lockdown
MANY families welcomed a new puppy into their home during the coronavirus pandemic.
And it's easy to see why - dogs are great company, give us purpose, help children learn about responsibility and, because they need exercise, help families get out and about together.
Getting caught up in the excitement of having a furry new family member is understandable, but it's important to remember puppies really need to be looked after - even if the easing of Covid lockdown restrictions means we are less tied to being stuck at home all day.
Looking after a puppy, then, is a bit like having a baby - a serious commitment.
Dogs demand a lot of attention, knowledge and research.
Veterinarian Luke Gamble, star of TV's Vet Adventures, says there are five mistakes new dog owners need to avoid.
1. Putting off a visit to the vet
"A trip to the vet is one of the first things you should do with your new puppy. Your vet will be able to talk you through any questions you may have and get your puppy vaccinated, so they can be free to explore the outside world.
"It's also important to check your puppy's microchip is working correctly - this will help if your dog ever goes missing, and is now a legal requirement for all dogs by the age of eight weeks.
"Your vet will also be able to advise on the best parasite protection for your puppy too.
"Did you know puppies are normally born with roundworm and need frequent treatment in their first few weeks of life? Your vet will be able to recommend a preventative product that covers all the parasites they will encounter, as they start to explore the world."
2. No protection against lungworm
"I recently found out that over a million estimated dogs bought during the Covid-19 pandemic may be unprotected against a parasite known as lungworm.
"As a vet and dog lover, this statistic is frightening, as lungworm has no symptoms and, if left untreated, can kill the puppy.
"Lungworm is a potentially fatal parasite for dogs; they can become infected when they accidentally or deliberately eat common slugs and snails in their garden, or whilst on their daily walks.
"Dogs can pick up lungworm whilst rummaging through undergrowth, eating grass, drinking from puddles or outdoor water bowls, or picking it up from their toys.
"I always say, prevention is better than cure, so advise all puppy owners to speak to their vet about a monthly preventative that covers lungworm.
"So many dog owners are unaware of the dangers.
"The key thing is understanding that over-the-counter medications can't protect dogs against lungworm, so it's vital owners speak to their vet to make sure their dog is continuously protected."
3. Missing out on socialisation
"Socialisation is key when it comes to puppy care, and unfortunately with the pandemic, many puppies have missed out on the usual interactions they would have.
"After your puppy has had the correct vaccinations, it's time for them to try out as many new things as they can. Whether that's meeting new friends in the park, attending puppy training classes or just learning the sounds of moving traffic - they are all vital to a puppy's development.
"I will say, though, that this has to be done on your puppy's terms. Follow their cues and ensure they aren't becoming overwhelmed in the situation. Short, regular, positive interactions are the way forward."
4. Dehydration in hot weather
"As we are now beginning to adjust to the warmer weather, our puppies need a helping hand to ensure they are kept cool and comfortable throughout.
"I have a few methods that I always use with my own dogs; these include placing down cold, damp towels for them to lie on; filling a hot water bottle with cold water, wrapping it in a towel and placing it in their favourite sleeping spot, and making sure I encourage them to move into the shade and avoid direct sunlight, especially in the middle of the day.
"I also get out the sprinklers and paddling pool, and let them go wild.
"Many pups love running through the jets of sprinklers, making this tip great for keeping them cool and keeping their playful mind occupied."
5. Delaying purchasing insurance
"I believe, like microchipping your pet, that insurance is an important part of responsible pet ownership. I recommend all owners take out pet insurance to help pay for the costs of unexpected vet treatment.
"There is nothing worse than receiving a huge vet bill unexpectedly.
"It's important to do your research first, before choosing your insurance provider, as they all offer slightly different things - choose one that's right for you and your puppy."