Guidelines for Healthy Puppy Adoption

Selecting a healthy puppy will make your puppy adoption experience a happy and memorable time for your family. Take a few minutes to give your prospective new pet an initial examination before you bring him home. This act can save you heartbreak and financial expense in the future.

Questions to Ask before Puppy Adoption

Before you adopt a puppy, there are some things you will want to know about his health and socialization. The care a puppy has received before adoption can affect him for the rest of his life. Here are a few things to ask the person you are adopting the puppy from:

  • Did this puppy receive vaccinations, parasite prevention and treatment and other routine veterinary care?
  • Has this puppy been exposed to a normal family environment?
  • Has this puppy had an opportunity to play with other dogs?
  • Where was this puppy housed? 
  • Was he allowed to relieve himself away from the area he slept and ate in?

Physical Appearance

A healthy puppy should have a soft, clean coat that is free from dander. His coat should not have an oily feel or appearance. His stomach should not appear hard or bloated, which may be an indication of internal parasites. You should not be able to see a puppy’s ribs or vertebrae poking out through his skin. He should not be limping or holding his head or tail in an awkward manner. Puppies should have shiny eyes and behave in an active and playful manner.

Health Examination

Some puppy health issues can only be found during a veterinary examination. However, there are some obvious indicators that you can look for to gain insight into a puppy’s overall physical health. Begin by looking at his eyes. They should be shiny, alert and free of any discharge. The puppy’s ears should be light pink and clean. There should be no odor or discharge on the inside of the ear. Look inside the puppy’s mouth. His teeth should be clean; his gums should be a light pink. Press gently on his gum with your finger; the resulting white spot should return to pink rapidly. Puppy noses should be moist and free of discharge.  His stools should be formed and free of mucous or any matter that looks like grains of rice.

Mental Health Considerations

Puppies should stay with their mother and litter until they are at least eight weeks old. This will allow them to learn bite inhibition and other important dog to dog interactions. If a puppy is nervous and fearful, be aware that this behavior can be hard to overcome and can result in aggression later on. Early socialization experiences have a significant impact on a puppy’s mental health and future behavior. Know the type of environment your puppy is coming from. Look for a puppy that has grown up in an environment with varied social experiences that will have prepared him to move into a home and be a family pet.