If your puppy recently turned one, congratulations! You’ve made it through the puppy stage — a year of chewing, digging, training (and re-training) and of course, plenty of love, hugs and sweet memories. So what’s next for you and your pup dog now that they’re becoming a grown-up? Here’s some things to expect (and do) in the coming months.
Officially a Young Adult
Now that your pup is one year old (about 15 in human years), some people will classify them as an adult dog. However, some large and giant breed pups might not have finished growing yet. So should they really be in the same category as a fully grown, adult dog?
A better definition may be the one used by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). They consider dogs to go through five life stages related to the different approaches needed for the dog’s preventative care — puppy, young adult, mature adult, senior and end of life. A young adult dog by the AAHA definition is “From cessation of rapid growth to completion of physical and social maturation, which occurs in most dogs by three to four years of age.” This definition fits most dogs at one year of age because, no matter their breed, they have finished their rapid growth by 12 months (see this chart for some examples), even if they are still growing to their full size, which may take up to 24 months for some giant breeds.
Time for a Diet Change?
If your dog has been eating a diet specially formulated for puppies, now may be a good time to switch to an adult formula. For large and giant breed dogs who have not reached their adult size yet, they may benefit from remaining on a puppy formula a little longer. Every dog grows at a different rate, so if you aren’t sure if your dog has finished growing, check with your veterinarian on when to switch to an adult food.
Start Dental Care
Your dog has lost all of their puppy teeth by now, so it’s a good time to begin dental care, if you haven’t started already. Regular at-home dental care can reduce the risk of your dog developing periodontal (gum) disease, which can lead to other health problems. If you’re not sure how to start, we’ve got some tips in this post and the American Veterinary Medical Association has a video on how to brush your dog’s teeth. It’s important to use a specially formulated pet toothpaste because human toothpaste can cause your dog’s stomach to become upset.
Keep Up the Training
It’s important to continue training sessions with your dog so they remember what they have learned as a puppy. If you haven’t started training your dog, it’s not too late to start — you can teach an old (or young adult) dog new tricks. Training them to know these seven commands is a good foundation to build upon. It’s also important to continue socializing your dog so they are comfortable in new situations and when meeting new friends (pets and people).
If your dog has mastered basic obedience commands, they may also be ready to start participating in sporting events. Activities like agility, flyball, herding, Earthdog events, dock diving or tracking are a good way to keep your dog mentally stimulated and fit while also strengthening the bond between the two of you. And if you’re a fitness lover yourself, you may be able to start running with your best furry friend now, too (if they’re fully grown). Check with your veterinarian before you begin any new sport to make sure it is safe for your dog to participate.
It’s Booster Time
Around this time is also when your dog is due for their vaccination boosters and annual exam. The core vaccine combination of distemper, canine adenovirus and canine parvovirus (DHP or DAP) typically requires a booster at one year of age or 12 months after the last puppy booster. Similarly, the rabies booster is usually given 12 months after the first shot. Your veterinarian will determine the vaccinations and schedule appropriate for your dog and whether they need any noncore vaccines.
If you’ve moved to a new location since your dog last went to the vet clinic, ask your new veterinarian which noncore vaccines are recommended for your dog in that area, as they may recommend a vaccine that wasn’t necessary in your previous location. External and internal parasite prevention and treatment strategies may also change depending on your location.
The first year with your puppy probably flew by. But a lifetime of fun and adventures with your dog is only just beginning!