You have just purchased a new puppy. Now you have a new "baby" and of course you want that baby to grow up to be a healthy playful little bundle of joy. BUT there are certain things that you need to know and do to make this happen. In the following paragraphs, I have tried to cover the basics of how to care for a new puppy and some information that may save your baby's life in an emergency situation. I will also try to educate you to be observant so you may meet the needs of even the tiniest of our little puppies.
TAKING YOUR PUPPY HOME: One of the biggest mistakes I have observed when some people purchase a new puppy, is they immediately have to take it visiting to show it off. NOT A GOOD IDEA!!! Take your puppy straight home and try your very best to keep it there until it has adjusted to it's new surrounding and it's new "parents". Don't do anything that stresses the puppy out. If it is put into some sort of pen and allowed to "cry itself to sleep", you may awake to a dead puppy. If possible before you go to pick up your new puppy, take along some sort of stuffed toy or just a baby blanket and ask the litter owner to let the other puppies from that litter or at least the puppy's sleeping partners, to play on the toy and leave their scent. Usually placing this toy in the bed with your baby at home makes it feel secure enough to sleep without crying. You can also put a plastic bottle of very warm water securely sealed so as not to leak into a soft blanket or towel and allow the new baby to cuddle up to it at night. This simulates the body temperature of another puppy in the bed with your baby so it doesn't feel abandoned.
If you are required to have the puppy checked out by a Vet within a certain length of time, use some common sense. Keep your puppy in a crate or in your lap when visiting the Vet's office. Do not let it romp on the floor or furniture and most certainly do not allow it to socialize with other animals that also may be in the office at the same time. Where do all people take sick dogs? To the Vet!!! Where is the best place to pick up germs or contract disease? Naturally, it's where everyone takes sick dogs. TO THE VET !!!!!
Now my Vet is my best friend and ally. But then she also knows what is best for my animals. But please note: ALL VETS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL !!!!!!! All of them do not have the welfare of our animals as their number one priority. If they are pushing you for this shot and that worming all in the same visit, run out the door very quickly. Chihuahua puppies should never be given shots and wormings at the same time. Remember, the dog is yours and the Vet is supposed to be working for you. You ALWAYS should have the right to say "NO" if you think anything they suggest doing is unreasonable. Some of them are more interested in how high they can run that bill instead of what is the best thing for your animal. More than one shot should never be given within a 3 week period. Nor should there be multiple shots given on any one visit. Your little puppy's immune system just can not stand it. Remember, you can always make another trip later. Find out what shots your puppy has been given before you picked it up and what shots will be due to come later. If the Vet you chose says your puppy will have to be started on it's shots all over again even after the breeder has told you they were already given,---run, don't walk as fast as possible for the door. There are many other Vets out there that puts the welfare of your animal before the lining of their pockets with your money. If in doubt, ask around until you find someone that you feel comfortable with taking on your new baby.
DIET AND FEEDING: . If you were caring for a human baby you would be feeding it every few hours and constantly changing it's diaper and keeping the environment clean. Same thing for a new puppy. Whatever food was recommended to you by the breeder at time of purchase should be fed for at least the first week so as not to "stress" the puppy any more than necessary. Depending on the age and size of the puppy, it is wise to keep food and clean water for it 24 hours a day until it shows signs of being capable of going longer lengths of time without being fed. It may be necessary to wet the food and add baby food for added flavor to encourage the puppy to eat better. Some breeders may be feeding the puppy canned foods along with dry kibble or alone. The main subject here is: DON'T change the puppy's diet or eating routine too abruptly. The smaller the puppy, the more times a day it has to be fed. You have to remember that because of the small stomachs, they have to eat much more often just to sustain themselves. NEVER confine a small puppy for any length of time with no food or water. I've heard horror tales where new owners thought they were keeping their puppy safe by putting it in some sort of soft crate or bed and putting it on the bed with them with no food or water to sleep through the night. Puppies also have to eat and drink during the night time hours just to sustain themselves. If you feel it necessary to confine a small puppy, leave it on the floor beside your bed in some sort of pen with sufficient room to sleep, eat and drink and relieve it'self. Yes, they also have to go potty during the night. So do not put very small puppies in the bed with yourself or your small children. They will attempt to move as far away from where they have to sleep to relieve themselves and could fall off the bed and break bones.
Puppies have no concept of heights. They will walk right off the edge of any furniture if they are left unattended. So please warn children not to play with them on the sofa or the bed. Play with them in the floor for their own safety.
YOGURT: The miracle drug for puppies. Plain yogurt can literally save your puppy's life. We recommend to everyone that takes a new puppy home to make sure you have a supply of plain yogurt on hand for several days. This should be fed to your puppy a couple of times a day along with it's normal diet. Please check the label and make sure it has the acidophilus culture and not the aspartame. ASPARTAME IS PURE POISON for humans and should not be fed to small dogs.
Stress occurs when you take a new puppy out of it's natural environment. This means that when you purchase a puppy and take it home, you are creating a stressful situation for this puppy. Stress kills off the good bacteria in the G.I. tract. When anything occurs out of the ordinary, it is stressful. Wormings, shots, shipping, riding---all create stress for small animals. Plain yogurt culture puts the good bacteria back into the system so you will have a healthy puppy. So feed them all they want for the first couple of days until they adjust to the new environment. Yogurt can be force fed with a syringe in situations where your puppy has stopped eating and shows signs of being hypoglycemic.
COCCIDIA: This is an "opportunist protozoa" that lives in the bowels of all dogs. Did you understand that? ALL DOGS carry coccidia. But something has got to weaken the immune system of an animal for the protozoa to have an opportunity to take hold and start multiplying. That "something " is usually stress of one kind or another. Coccidia is usually accompanied by a loose, stinky stool that can even have streaks of bloody mucus in it. Some Vets will explain coccidia to their clients by saying the animal is loaded with parasites. This is sometimes interepreted by that client that the animal has worms. Coccidia is not exactly a parasite but can be just as hard to get rid of . A daily supply of yogurt prevents coccidia from getting a foot hold as it keeps a good balance of bacteria in the G.I. tract. So long as good bacteria exists in an ample supply in the gut, coccidia can not grow. Coccidia is shed in the stool like a virus. If the animal is not shedding it when a stool sample is taken, the animal can be misdiagnosed as being free of the protozoa. If your puppy is put on antibiotics of any sort, feed yogurt to replenish the good bacteria that is killed off by the antibiotic. It will in no way affect the antibiotic from completeing it's job but may save your animal from secondary infections caused by an imbalance of good bacteria.
When coccidia does exist in the G.I. tract of your puppy, it can easily spread up through the system and into the lungs and if unchecked, it can cause pneumonia and eventually death. The first signs of coccidia is usually a lack of eating properly accompanied by a loose stinky stool and sometimes escalating into bouts of hypoglycemia. Coccidia can be transmitted to humans if hands are not washed and contaminated utensils are handled improperly. Coccidia should never be allowed to progress to a point that the puppy's life is threatened. If your puppy shows signs of this disease, immediately seek professional advice and treatment.
HOUSE TRAINING: Sometimes I think too much emphasis is placed on training a puppy not to urinate on the floor instead of making sure it gets proper nutrition. It is possible to train your puppy and feed it properly at the same time. Never withhold food from a very tiny puppy in an effort to teach it not to evacuate in the house. Feeding is and always should be your first priority in trying to raise a healthy puppy. Some people tell you to put your puppy on a "feeding schedule" in order to house train it. All dogs have regular bowel movements. If they eat, they will have to go within an hour afterward. But this should only apply to a puppy that is old enough and large enough to eat enough at one sitting to sustain it for several hours. This does not apply to the tinies or the teacups that have to eat several times a day just to sustain themselves. It is best to paper train these little ones at an early age and teach them to go out later when they are much older.
HAIR LOSS OR THINNING: In chihuahuas, when they are between 8 and 12 weeks of age, you may notice a sudden thinning splotchy pattern in the coat. Some of us breeders call this the "hen pecked look" because the coat looks just like a chicken has pulled out tufts of hair in the shape of a chickens beak. This has very often been misdiagnosed as mange of one kind or another. Many Vets opt to do skin scrapings to determine if mites are present. Please note that this is a very normal condition that usually only lasts a couple of weeks to a month and will completely clear itself up with time. It is caused by the changing of the coat. Smooth coats looked like they have bare places and some long coats will shed off their coats until they are nearly as slick as an onion skin. It will grow back and is perfectly normal. It will sometimes occur again when they are about a year and a half old. Females blow coat when they experience heat cycles and when they are recovering from nursing puppies. You should only be alarmed if the shedding is also accompanied with some sort of rash or what appears to be pimples on the skin. This is usually a sign of demodectic mange mites or some sort of alergy.
TEETHING AND IT'S EFFECTS ON PUPPIES: Puppies usually have a full set of baby teeth by the time they are 6 weeks old. But some of them lack jaw muscles strong enough to crush dry kibble in order to get enough nutrition. You should watch your puppy for signs of hunger and make sure it is getting enough to eat even if you have to feed it "soft" food for a couple of weeks. When puppies get about 12 weeks old, they usually start to cut their permanent teeth. This is a process that sometimes goes on for 3 to 6 months. It can effect different puppies in different ways. You may notice some that had very errect ears are now resembling Beagles. Or you will see them with one ear up and one ear down. Tomorrow it can be the other ear up and the mate down. It is not uncommon to see one or both ears actually roll up backwards like window shades. This is all perfectly normal and if given enough time the ears will stand erect again all by themselves. There are cases of puppies coming from lines with "weak" ear leather where you may have to tape the ears in order to help them keep them erect until they can again hold them up on their own. In your male puppies it is also not uncommon for one or both testicles to suddenly dissappear. At this point, may I also add--please do not try to palpate testicles in a puppy. They are so very tiny and so very delicate at this stage that feeling for them can insure that they will never have them when they are needed. If you are concerned about testicles, stand the puppy on it's hind legs and spray the sac with a fine mist of warm water (not cold water) and you will be able to see the imprint of both of them if they are down. If they are not down at this time feeling for them will not bring them down. It is not uncommon for males not to have both of them descended until they are at least 6 months old. If you purchased the puppy for a possible breeding dog, have an experienced Vet check him at about 6 months. On some occasions I've seen males have none at 6 months and suddenly at 8 or 9 months have both of them down and in the scrotum. But it seems to be a "rule of thumb" that both are supposed to be down by 6 months. But remember there are exceptions to all rules so don't rule him out just yet. It is also not unusual to see a male with both testicles down that still won't breed when he is old enough.