Hard to believe in 2 weeks the pups will be going home. We have continued to have a few visitors, and introduced the freedom of the deck. They love to run or hop, and are so happy to be outdoors.
A few questions have arisen about food, grooming etc. so I though I would try to answer them in a blog so everyone can get the information.
Food: We have been feeding the pups Purina Proplan Chicken and Rice. We are still soaking it, but keep reducing the amount of water we add. The pups seem to like to eat from one bowl, so I have not introduced individual bowls. Seems like a waste of time at this point, as even when I spread them out, they all end up at the same bowl. It all gets eaten so they are migrating. The pups are getting about 1 1/3 cups of food aday. The recommended feeding amount at 6 weeks to 3 months is 1 1/4 to 2 cups of food aday. The smaller amount would be for your smaller females (50 lb), while the larger amount would be your larger males (70 lb). While we feed Purina, we recommend any good or premium puppy food for your pup (up to 18 months), as there are many on the market. It is important that the crude protein for growth is minimum of 22.5% and fat 8.5%. Calcium content should range from 1.2% to 1.8%. Excess calcium can have a detrimental effect. The Calcium to phosphorus ratio should range from 1:1 to 2:1. While there is no established evidence of risks associated with high protein diets, there has been some reported heart-related problems due to excess protein in the diet. While raw has many benefits, there are risks associated with pathogens when the raw meat thaws. So if you want to feed raw, please have an area that can be santized easily and wash bowls after every meal. If for some reason your pup is refusing food, please watch them carefully, as this is the first sign of sickness in a pup. It will not hurt them to go without food for 24 hrs, if it is a gastro-intestinal issue. But if vomitting and diahrea occurs, take to the vet as it is possible as it may be something more sinister. Parvo is the biggest fear. Although your pup will be vaccinated on June 17, it does take time for full effectiveness.
Ears: Clean ears every month with a product recommended by your vet. Once they shake it out, then gently wipe out the gunk with cotton balls. You will find out if your dog has an issue with dirty ears pretty quickly. Of the four dogs we currently have, two have ear issues and two do not. We only clean if necessary, and in the summer if there has been alot of swimming.
Teeth: Use an enzymatic toothpaste. Please do not use a human toothpaste, as they often contain flouride that is toxic to dogs, and dogs do not spit out. As for a toothbrush, as a pup you can use you finger, or get a finger brush. We have used a child's size toothbrush with soft bristles. You can get dog toothbrushes (centre in picture), but we just use any soft bristled adult toothbrush. The more often you can brush the better. (If we can get it done more than once a week, we consider it a good week.)
Nails: Some dogs need to be taken to a groomer to have their nails trimmed. Some dogs live on concrete or take lots of walks on concrete so wear their nails down naturally. Otherwise, take the time to trim your pups nails once a week if you have kids (to prevent scratches), or once a month as the pup ages. I use the type of clipper in the picture. It is fairly easy to use, just clip off the tip until you see white. That is the start of the quick. If you cut off too much you will cut the quick and it will bleed (dogs bleed profusely). If it bleeds, you can use stop-quick or baking soda. The pups have five nails on their front paws as their dew-claws were not removed. They have four nails on each of their rear paws.
Coat: Brush as needed. We find there is a significant shed in the spring and one again in the fall. During that period we use a fine tined brush to get out the undercoat too (see pictures). It is not unusual during the shed to get four or five brushfuls of hair, every day. So you are either brushing or vacuuming, it's your choice. As for bathing, we only do it if they get into something like a skunk (dead or alive). There are dog shampoos and anti-skunk shampoos. We have opted for baby shampoos as least hard on the coat. For skunk, we google the hydrogen peroxide/baking soda/dish detergent formula, and it works. It is important to remember that labs have a good double coat, and that stripping oils will cause skin and flaking issues. When wet, they usually take about an hour to dry, however, in very cold weather, do not bathe and then go outside for a long period of time. Let them dry for at least 24 hours to ensure the insulation effect of their coat is maximum.
Collars: Have one or two. We like to use martindale collars for training. These are the collars with the chain, that tighten when the dog pulls. So the idea is that the collar is generally loose around the neck, but when the dog pulls it tightens to the size of their neck, creating pressure (but not choking). The pressure is a feedback that they are pulling and should come to heel. The downside to the martindale, is that when you have multiple dogs, the chains can get caught together and may cause issues. We have never had any issues with martindale collars. The other type of collar is the flat collar. These are also good for training. The downside to them is they have to be on tight enough that the dog does not slip out of them. Getting loose from a collar can be an issue for dogs that are just learning to obey commands, or who are fearful.
Leashes: Best by far is a flat, 6 foot leash with a nice handle and an easy to release clasp. Kong makes one that has another handle down about two feet. This leash is by far the most versatile we have every had, as when meeting other dogs, there is that handle to pull back on if lunging occurs. Rope and retractible types get tangled too easily (in storage, or when there are more than one dog around). A long flat 30 foot leash can also come in handy for training at distance. PLEASE always leash your pup when out of your yard until you know that his/her recall is absolute or you are in a dog park where it is safe to be off-leash.
Bowls: Labradors are messy drinkers, and they love water. So always have water available, but ensure your bowl does not tip over. It didn't take long for our nursery to be flooded by pups taking the flat sided water bowl for a walk! Feeding bowls can be either plastic or metal (but just know that if it is plastic, it will be chewed unless you take it up right after feeding time.)
Crate: all pups should have a crate big enough for their adult size. Then you should spend time training your family that this is the pup's safe zone and where he/she can go to rest. Alway treat your pup for entering the crate, and big rewards for staying in the crate. Start the pup out at a few seconds, and build up. Eventually the pup should be able to stay in the crate for hours without incidents or compaints. Although all pups will whine if they know they are missing something exciting. The pups have been exposed to both metal and solid sided crates, but have not really been crate-trained. Some pups like to go into the crates already for naps. We cover our wire crates with a blanket so there is less stimulation and it is more of a cave for the dog, however your pup may be fine without one.
Vaccinations and vet visits: They seem expensive but can reduce the risk to your pup and yourselves. Your pup will have its first set of vaccinations, but will need a booster in a month (So about July 14.) Also the rabies vaccination can only happen when the pup is older. Your vet may recommend neutering/spaying as early as 6 months. However, the longer you wait, the more time growth plates have to mature and the sturdier your dog will be. For females, waiting for at least a year is highly recommended. Although there may be a heat cycle, one cycle should not greatly increase the risks associated with cancer. However, if you live in an area with lots of intact males, you may wish to spay earlier as the risk of an unwanted pregnancy may warrant it. It would be highly unlikely for these girls to go into their first heat cycle before 18 months, based on their family history, but not impossible if there are intact males around. We also use Heartgard once a month for worms and Nexgard for the six months of April to October for tick control (your area may be different). Dosage depends on size of the dog.