It's National Puppy Day - O Happy, Yappy Day!

March 23, 2010 | By Robin Wallace | Category: Care & Safety | 30 comments
Tags: care & safety, health & wellness

Happy National Puppy Day!

Some new puppy owners believe that nothing is cuter than a fuzzy, wiggly tail, but those puppy dog eyes really seal the deal, melting hearts even as owners clean up the biggest of messes. To survive the classic puppy vices — chewing on shoes, yipping at night, accidents on the kitchen floor — Zootoo Pet News got the expert advice of veterinarian Al Townshend on how to nurture a puppy into a healthy, well-adjusted dog.

Here are five key tips for new puppy parents to celebrate National Puppy Day, which is March 23. The day was started by Colleen Paige of the Animal Miracle Foundation and Network in 2006.

The Name Game

The first step to puppy ownership is both important and fun: selecting a name for your new addition. Townshend notes that choosing the right name is part of sound puppy development. Avoid names that sound like commands. A dog might mistake “Joe” for “no,” for instance. And make sure the name is something you will be comfortable calling out in a public place.

The Food Pyramid

Now that your puppy is named, be sure to nourish its young, developing brain. It is critical to feed puppies food supplemented with DHA, an Omega-3 fatty acid, which is essential to the development of nervous tissue and visual function in dogs.

“Exciting new research indicates DHA may promote brain and overall good health in animals of all ages. The benefits begin when they receive the proper diet as puppies," said Townshend, citing Holistic Select Nourish Puppy Health as a good example of a balanced food.

Not Every Dog is Created Equal

Third, consider the need of the breed. Nutritional needs can vary widely, particularly among super-sized puppies such as Great Danes, Saint Bernards and Labrador Retrievers.

“Controlled growth is essential for large breed puppies,” Townshend said. “These breeds actually need fewer calories per pound than smaller breeds. With the potential to grow up to 100 times their birth weight, a large breed puppy’s energy intake must be regulated to ensure consistent, steady growth. Weight gain that comes too quickly can stress developing bones, and may lead to other disorders.”

Townshend stressed the importance of making sure a pet's food matches their body's needs, such as proper ratios of minerals like calcium and phosphorous for proper bone growth, which can be critical to the larger breeds. Whereas for small- and mini-breed puppies, the recipe blend needs to have enhanced levels of proteins, fat, calories and guaranteed levels of natural DHA to support brain development. For these smaller dogs, Townshend also noted the importance of easy to chew kibble size for their small mouths and teeth.

All-in-all, puppies of any breed need a food combining enzymes, direct fed microbials, botanicals and phytonutrients, where the impact will be for a higher level of health for the long term, said Townshend.

Run, Spot, Run

Exercise is another essential element to a puppy’s holistic lifestyle. The activity doesn't have to be overly strenuous in order to be beneficial to their well-being, but regular exercise is key, said Townsend, whose "above the call of duty" work with the Iditarod dogs won him the "Golden Stethoscope Award."

While not every dog or owner will be an avid athlete devoted to hours of exercise, set aside a brief period of time daily dedicated to physical activity for your dog. Doing this on a regular basis gives your pup something to look forward to, exercises his developing brain and strengthens his bond with you, too.

Snack Attack

Finally, new puppy parents need to be disciplined, especially when it comes to snacks.

“Typically ‘people snacks’ don’t meet a pet’s nutritional needs,” Townshend warned. “Feeding people snacks can unbalance a previously balanced diet and may have detrimental side effects, not to mention surface food intolerances.”

With these five pearls of wisdom, Townshend says puppies and new owners will be off to a great start. As a contributing author to Canine Sports Medicine, Townshend said he emphasizes nutrition because it directly impacts a dog's body. Based on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, the vet recognizes that a holistic diet is the most important preventative step new dog owners can take to ensure that their puppies grow up health and strong.

And what can be better than celebrating a long lifetime full of happy puppy days?

To find out more about National Puppy Day, visit

To find out more about the Animal Miracle Foundation, visit

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Comments (27)

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5 years ago

I do agree what a wonderful day to celebrate, spay and neuter

Good Point | Reply ›


5 years ago

what a great day!

Good Point | Reply ›

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