March 23rd is National Puppy Day. Not only is this a day to celebrate the unconditional love and magic that puppies bring into our lives, it’s also an opportunity to help save orphaned pups worldwide and educate the public about puppy mills and pet stores.
National Puppy Day was founded in 2006 by animal behaviorist, pet lifestyle expert, and author Colleen Paige, who also founded National Dog Day and National Cat Day. In recognition of National Puppy Day, Holistic Select staff veterinarian Dr. Al Townshend shares five things every new puppy parent should know to nurture their growing dog properly.
- Selecting the right name for your puppy is part of his sound development. Don’t choose names that sound like commands. For example, “Joe” might be mistaken for “no”. Also, make sure the name is something you’ll be comfortable calling out in public.
- Nutritional needs can vary greatly among breeds, particularly with larger dogs such as Labrador Retrievers, Great Danes, and St. Bernards. According to Dr. Townshend, controlled growth is important for large breed puppies. “These breeds actually need fewer calories per pound than smaller breeds… Weight gain that comes too quickly can stress developing bones, and may lead to other disorders.”
- Nourish your pup’s young, developing brain. Be sure to include DHA in his diet. DHA is an Omega-3 fatty acid that is essential to the development of visual function and nervous tissue in canines. “…DHA may promote brain and overall good health in animals of all ages,” Dr. Townshend says.
- Exercise is a must in a puppy’s holistic lifestyle. The activity doesn’t have to be too strenuous for it to be beneficial, but exercise should be performed on a regular basis. Schedule some time each day dedicated to physical activity for your pet. This gives him something to look forward to, exercises his brain, and also strengthens his bond with you.
- New puppy parents should practice discipline as well, and refrain from giving too many snacks. “People snacks” usually don’t meet a pet’s nutritional needs, can unbalance a previously balanced diet, and may have harmful side effects.