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Food & Nutrition

New Puppy FAQs

Val Cairney July 23, 2021 120

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Hi everyone, and welcome to this episode of Val Talk’s Pets.  Well the puppy craze continues and many, many people are getting a puppy for the first time or getting a puppy after many years without a dog and some are adding to their canine family.  With these new pups coming into the family we are finding quite a few questions that are cropping up and there are certain ones that are asked more than others.  Now, not all new canine friends are pups.  Some people have gone to great lengths to adopt a dog from a rescue or shelter and that opens a whole new sort of questions for many pet parents.  So, I thought I would go over the most popular questions we get on a regular basis and perhaps some of these are just the same questions you may have. 

So, I’m going to start with a new puppy.  You can also access my episode called, “Getting a new puppy”, to get more in depth information especially if you are in the thinking stage of getting a new dog.  But, if you already have your puppy here are the most asked questions.

When does a puppy start teething?

This question or statement actually is I think the top one we hear regularly.  In this case a new puppy parent says they need something for their puppy because it is teething.  The first question I ask is, how old his your puppy?  The answer I get most often is, the pup is 8 weeks or 12 weeks.  Guess what?  The puppy is not teething.  Here is your timeline from, “Around 4 – 6 months, puppies will lose their canine teeth which are those sharp little fangs teeth.  Puppies lose their molars last, usually around 5 – 7 months of age.  The age at which your puppy will lose its baby teeth depends on the breed and size of the dog.” Well there you go, generally by 6 months of age all the puppy teeth should have fallen out and the adult teeth should have grown in.  I often say to pet parents that have a 8 or 9 week old puppy when they say it is teething, that no its not and wait for it!  Young puppies do what is called “Mouthing” and as points out, this is when the dog puts his teeth and mouth over a person’s skin using little or no pressure from his jaw.”  Regardless of the so called pressure, there is no doubt that this hurts.  Their little teeth are like razors so employing some training techniques to let your puppy know he has hurt you is a good idea by giving a high pitched yelp yourself which will startle him to stop mouthing when he uses too much pressure.  

Which chews should I give my puppy?

This also brings up the question about the type of chews a puppy with baby teeth can have.  Well, the selection is not huge.  Puppies with baby teeth have to be very careful not to break one of those little teeth.  Yes, they are sharp, but not that strong.  People will load up with a handful of pizzles and antlers and unfortunately none of these are appropriate for a puppy with baby teeth.  There are some edibles from different body parts that are softer that can be given, but you will need to ask your pet specialty store to help you with these selections.  There are also the specific puppy chews from Nylabone, but I know, not all dogs go for these, so the hunt is on for something else.  So, the bottom line here, is your pup is not teething until he or she is getting to about 4 or 6 months.  During teething your pup may experience sore gums and a bit of a fever.  Puppy teething toys that can be frozen are a great option to sooth inflamed gums.  Before teething and as teething begins, be cautious and make sure nothing is too hard.  So, the answer to what can I give my 9 week old puppy for teething is, nothing.  He is not teething, so let’s look at soft chews to distract him from mouthing.  

Which training treats should I use?

The next most popular question about new puppies is treats or more specifically training treats.  Well there are a lot of treats on the market and you can access my episode called “Treats, treats and more treats” to get some more in depth information.  This question is obviously a good one, because not all treats are good for a young pup.  There are specific puppy treats available and if the puppy is still very young, I like the soft chewy treats that have added DHA specifically for puppies.  Biscuits and hard cookies again, can compromise those baby teeth so be cautious.  And while we are on the topic of treats, some people ask about putting peanut butter inside a puppy Kong.  You can do this but you have to be very careful as to the ingredients of the peanut butter.  I suggest using only natural whole peanut butter.  There should be no sugar added and definitely no artificial sweeteners, these can be very toxic to dogs.  Kong does make an actual treat filler for puppies that you can squeeze into a Kong if that makes things simpler. 

An option that may work for you for a treat for your dog or pup is blueberries.  They are a great source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  You can also see if your pup will like bananas.  Bananas in moderation are a great low calorie treat.  They do have a high naturally occurring sugar level, so again, in moderation.  

So the answer to what treats can I get for my puppy will depend on the age.  If they are very young I suggest sticking to a proclaimed puppy treat that is soft or chewy.  Stay away from hard biscuits.  If the pup has its adult teeth you can venture into the world of biscuits but I would still stay with something that is specific for puppies.

What is the best food to feed my puppy?

Okay, the next question we seem to be getting more frequently is about food. The question we get is, what is the best food for my puppy? This is a loaded question.  But to begin, the breed or breeds in your dog and size they will be as an adult will dictate whether you are looking for large breed food or small breed food or the in between.  If your dog is going to be over 50lbs as an adult, it is highly recommended to feed large breed puppy food.  If your dog will not go over 20lbs at its ideal adult weight, then this would be a small breed.  There is metabolism differences between large and small dogs as well as the medium dogs, so matching the food to this is important.  Plus, large breed dog food is formulated to make sure a large breed pup will not grow too fast but at the same time they are getting all the nutrients needed for a growing dog.  The one thing that is really odd with puppy kibble is that it is mostly all chicken based.  Often a customer will say they tried chicken with their pup and it just didn’t go well.  At this point they are looking for an alternative, but to be honest sometimes that is a bit of a challenge.  There are some very good formulas that use turkey and lamb so you will again have to ask at your pet specialty to be shown these alternatives.  

Now I know that people who purchase pups from a breeder will often be given some food to go home with.  A lot can be learned about the breeder based on the food they have been feeding their puppies.  But, remember these pups have pretty much just started eating solid food so if you wish to change food you can certainly do this.  As always, do your research and ask questions.  Keep in mind that certain brands do give breeders incentives, so if you are not keen on what the pups have been fed, you should feel free to do your own homework and feed your pup as you see fit.  

As for feeding puppies raw, you will need to do a fair bit of research on this and I would suggest having an open discussion with your vet.  The one thing I do recommend and really, really feel is important is to make sure if you are feeding raw to a puppy you add a fish oil to their meals everyday so they get the DHA they need for eye and brain development and perhaps adding one of the food fortifiers wouldn’t go amiss to make sure your pup is getting all the vitamins and minerals needed for a growing dog.  

So the bottom line on the question, what is the best food to feed my pup, the answer is there isn’t one, as no one food is the best and one size does not fit all.  Every dog is different, so you will need to have a period of trial and error to find the food that best resonates with your dog.  The breeder police will not show up at your door because you changed YOUR dog’s food. 

What should I know about spaying and neutering?

Okay, the last big question we get is about spaying and neutering.  I have to say that it still astounds me that there is that some owners of male dogs are against neutering for macho reasons.  There is quite a bit more detail about spaying and neutering in my episode dedicated to this topic but let me go over some of the questions or statements about this that we are hearing most often. 

New pup parents often ask when they should be getting their pup fixed.  Traditionally 6 months was usually the time.  However, because a girl dog is capable of getting pregnant at 5 months as well as a boy dog can get a girl dog pregnant at 5 months, some vets have recommended a month earlier for fixing.  Now, there has been quite a bit of discussion lately about neutering male dogs from the large breed categories too soon.  There has been studies showing that the hormones in large breed dogs are needed to prevent bone and joint issues or hip dysplasia.  Some sources are saying to wait until 1 year before neutering a large dog.  I think if you have acquired a large breed dog, it is best that you have a very thorough discussion with your veterinarian about what age to neuter.

Now as for female dogs, more and more we are hearing that breeders are telling customers and even putting it in their purchase contracts that the dog has to have its first heat before spaying. According to, “medically it’s better to spay your dog before their first heat.  It greatly reduces the risk of mammary tumors.  People who wait to spay their dogs until after their second heat greatly increase the risk of mammary tumors in their pets”.  According to, tumors in dogs are 50% malignant, so spaying a female before the first heat cycle almost eliminates their life long risk of mammary tumors. Spaying dogs before the first heat drops the risk of to less than ½ of 1/10 of 1%. (0.05%).  A dog that cycles into heat and is not bred will experience uterus changes so this may be why many veterinarians charge more to spay a female that has had a heat.  This is something to think about seeing as spaying a female is not a cheap surgery to begin with.  I’m not sure why this archaic thinking has risen again with regards to females and one heat.  I see where the studies are showing merit for delaying neutering in large breed males, but this is not the same hormones being dealt with here and according to several veterinarian clinics when asked this question, whether to wait to spay after a heat, the answer is emphatically, NO. 

So again, a thorough discussion with the vet is needed here and do some serious research.  

What should I consider when bringing home an adult dog from a rescue/ shelter ?

Well if you have acquired a new canine friend who came from a rescue or shelter and is already past the puppy stage, we find that many of these pet parents are pretty seasoned when it comes to owning a dog.  Their questions seem to be more of a research nature, finding out about new products and thought processes for training for introducing a new friend to the household.   

 Sometimes these guys come with baggage and these parents are ready for the challenge.  I think the most asked question is about calming products.  This stands to reason in many cases and a calming product in the form of a calming treat or liquid or a homeopathic certainly can be tried.  There are quite a few options now for calming products so doing some research and visiting your pet specialty should allow someone to find the right fit for your new family member.  

Sometimes rescues can also have some issues with food.  Believe it or not, we often hear that the pet parent is having difficulty getting the dog to eat.  Well, again, trial and error for this with regards to finding what the dog likes, but there are also many options on the market to add extra flavour to a pet’s food and again my secret is goat’s milk.  But, either way, a pet expert will be able to point out the options to try if a new dog is having difficulty letting you know what he or she likes.  

Well I think that is the main questions we have been getting lately, so that leads me to my pet peeves section.

Pet Peeves

I think my biggest pet peeve with all the puppy craze right now and questions, is what the questions are revealing.  Many of the questions we are getting are ones that I would think someone would have looked into or spoke to a vet about before acquiring the pup.  So many people are saying, this is my first dog or cat for that matter, and if that is the case, I am surprised at how little some of these people know about caring for a puppy.  Now, there are those who have done quite a bit of research and I love these people, but they are fewer and farther between that you would think.  I think the mere fact that the number one question we are getting from people thinking their pup is teething when it is only 9 weeks of age, speaks volumes about a lack of general knowledge with regards to puppies.   So, I’m glad new pet owners are asking questions, but it is surprising that puppies are being acquired without learning about their needs and traits before getting them home.  I’m always concerned when I see a senior person with a new puppy all frazzled saying, this thing never stops!!  Well, that’s what puppies do!  Maybe you should have considered that before getting it?  The upshot of this is that we are already starting to see dogs showing up in shelters that were acquired without the knowledge of what a puppy requires or the traits that certain breed’s exhibit.  This is really shameful. 

And there are some rather odd things coming from breeders about food and this rise of not spaying before a heat.  Remember, you paid the money, the dog is yours.  

But, for others, the journey is not over, it’s a learning curve and one that needs to be dealt with daily if this is a first time dog.  So as always, call your vet, go see your vet, research, talk to an experienced dog owner, ask your pet specialty experts.  The biggest mistake will be not asking, because as I say, knowing is caring!

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Val Cairney

Hi everyone, and welcome to Val Talk’s Pets, the forum for pet parents and enthusiasts alike. So, I have been working in the pet industry now for almost 10 years and, on a daily basis, I handle a lot of issues and questions arising from pet parents. I am not a veterinarian but I do have certifications in Canine, Feline, Small Animal, Fish and Herptile and Avian Health and Nutrition from the University of California, Davis Extension, the Vet College.

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