Getting a dog? Some pointers

 GOING out to get a pet for your home is merely one of a number of important steps in a journey of pet ownership that calls for long term care and commitment to the pet on the part of the designated owner/family. In this article, we focus on getting a dog as a pet.

spca_familydog.jpgWhere to get it from

The obvious avenue is to buy one from a pet shop but you could also consider adopting an abandoned puppy or dog from the SPCA. Among the many reasons, a social one includes helping to reduce the number of unwanted pets in the city.

What are some relevant issues to consider? Well, ensure you get a healthy puppy. Also, if you are planning on a pedigree puppy, note that many pedigree dogs are inbred resulting in the possibility of developing chronic health, skin and behavioural problems as they get older.

Guidelines on selecting the right puppy or dog

  • Choose a reputable breeder or pet shop.

spca_dog4.jpgCheck the AVA website for a list of the most reputable shops. Note that a good pet shop keeps the animals in clean surroundings, avoids too much handling by prospective buyers, provides proper veterinary care to the animal, and would give you a seven-day guarantee. This last item is very important because often a puppy can seem well at the pet shop but fall seriously ill within the first few days after they are brought home due to diseases that were incubating inside the puppy prior to your purchase.

  • Buy a puppy older than seven weeks old.

spca_dogthumb.jpgJust prior to this age, a puppy learns how to interact with other dogs. Studies show that puppies isolated at a very young age risk developing inappropriate or abnormal behaviours. Therefore it is important for a puppy to continue to interact with its mother and littermates. After this age, puppies can progress in learning how to interact with people and as they get older, how to interact in different environments. If deprived of such opportunities, these puppies may become fearful and never form close attachments.

  • Always look for an active puppy.

spca_dog5.jpgIs the puppy tired looking? It may not respond to human handling. Such puppies could be harbouring life-threatening diseases.

  • Check the eyes and nose for discharge.

Is there any greenish mucoid discharge? This could mean life-threatening illnesses. Always check with the staff about the causes of the discharge and whether the puppy is being treated by a veterinarian.

  • Check the poo.

Is there signs of diarrhoea, bloody poo and even white strands or eggs in the poo? Of course, this may not be convenient to check if the shop staff cleans the pet enclosure regularly. The whitish strands usually indicate intestinal worms which can be solved easily with dewormers. Diarrhoea can also be caused by flagylettes and the puppy would need to be treated. If there is undigested food in the poo, it means the puppy does not have a good digestive system which result in other diseases.

  • Check that the puppy is not coughing.

Kennel cough is common in pet farms and can usually be treated with antibiotics. If persistent and untreated, this could lead to death.

  • Check the fur of the puppy.

Make sure that it is healthy and shiny. Ensure there are no fleas or ticks. However, note that any small numbers detected can be easily treated with anti-flea products. Pimples or thickened skin patches with hair loss can be signs of other severe skin diseases. Skin mites – mainly mange and demodex – can cause severe itch and hair loss. Demodex can involve a long treatment time, sometimes lasting a few years.

  • Check the body condition of the puppy.

The puppy should not be overly thin such that the ribs of that puppy can be seen even from afar as this can be an indication not only of inadequate diet but also of hereditary or life-threatening diseases.

  • Check the vaccination schedule.

spca_dog3.jpgA puppy can be vaccinated as early as six weeks. According to the AVA website, pet shops can only sell puppies after they have had two vaccinations after which there is a waiting period of two weeks before they can be sold. In Singapore, the most common viruses that puppies are vaccinated against are distemper, parvovirus and canine infectious hepatitis. Generally, a puppy that is vaccinated earlier than eight weeks will need two boosters ie three vaccinations, preferably four weeks apart early on in life. Vaccination is a good safeguard against viruses but be aware that sometimes there is vaccination failure.

Source material used with permission: Singapore Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

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