Creature Comforts’ Ask Walter: Puppy Stuff
I’m a puppy with lots of questions. I get a little distracted and sidetracked, sometimes. When I’m goofing around with a ball or something, and then catch sight of that bumpy spot on the wall, I can’t stop myself from running over and investigating (and nibbling at the wall.) I tend to flit from one activity to another really fast — there are so many cool things to see and do, sometimes I can’t decide what to check out first. It’d be cool if I could do three things at once; I’d get a whole lot more done in a day. I get so darn tired, I can’t seem to fit it all in between power naps.
I had a sip of the boss lady’s tea the other day (Chinese Oolong.) She left it on the table next to her favorite chair, and I helped myself when she walked away for a few seconds. My dachshund housemates said it’s cool to sample people food, as long as we don’t get caught. I’ll have to work on my stealth — I got busted. Anyhoo, I think maybe I should drink more of this “caffeine” stuff (my housemates call it “peppy juice” and prefer to sneak sips of coffee with cream.) What do you think?
— Zippy McZipface
Sounds like you’re an overachiever. While that’s okay, I recommend pacing yourself — enjoy those juicy naps! Don’t give in to peer pressure — some people foods like caffeine (a drug!) are dangerous to dogs. Just say NO.
I’m a 12-week-old puppy and I get in trouble a lot. I like to grab things with my mouth, pick at the carpet with my teeth, and eat things that aren’t actually food. THE YARD IS FILLED WITH ACORNS AND STICKS AND IT’S AWESOME. Sometimes, I just grab a tuft of grass or my housemate buddy’s tail feathers and yank and yank. The reactions I get are mixed, sometimes scary — loud barks, hand claps, foot stomps. The other dogs snap at me! I know they don’t like to be teased, but sometimes, I just can’t help myself. Chewing and biting are fun and feel good. My people call me “shark puppy” and stuff a toy in my mouth when we’re playing nowadays. Don’t they like me anymore? What do I have to do to keep the games going?
— Cruisin’ and Bruisin’
Let’s face it: puppy teeth are wicked sharp. I know you can’t help yourself with the biting, sassing, and chewing stuff. Any day, your big dog teeth’ll be coming in and pushing out the tiny ones. It makes your gums tickly — you’ll want to gnaw on anything you can reach. It’ll get better, I promise.
Your people are just watching out for you, since you’re still a baby and don’t know what’s good to eat, chew or swallow. Puppies can get into serious trouble chewing dangerous things like electrical cords or poisonous substances. Chewed bits of plastics and fabrics can block your throat or clog your stomach or intestines.
About bite strength: you need to temper that bite of yours. People have much more sensitive, thinner skin than us dogs and get hurt more easily. And if you want your dog friends to like you and play with you longer, you’ll need to hold back and not bite so hard with them, too.
How come I get different food from the big dogs? Mine’s yummy and all, but I REALLY like yours — I mean, theirs. Sometimes the boss lady gives me one kibble to taste and it’s DELICIOUS. I can chew it, too, even though it takes me awhile. Those kibbles are really big, but my teeth are extra sharp and I have jaws of steel. I’ve grown almost a whole pound since I moved in a month ago, and now I’m 3.2 lbs, and 12 weeks old already, so if I eat your — er — the big dogs’ food, I’m pretty sure I could get HUGE, like my friend (we will call her Eyevee.) She’s my tallest buddy and I want to grow up to be just like her.
— Growin’ Fast
Phyllis, I know this is you. And quit trying to sneak into my bowl while I’m eating — it’s rude. Your puppy food is specially made to help you grow up at the right pace with the correct nutrition. My food is for “mature” dogs and isn’t for youngsters. So, you’ll have to be satisfied with what they give you, for now. Also, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but I’m afraid you will grow up to be pretty short. You’ll be small, but mighty — like me. I see great potential in you, so no worries.
— Daverio is a veterinarian at Williamsport West Veterinary Hospital. Her column is published every other Sunday in the Lifestyle section. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.