44–47 Weeks: What to Expect From Your Puppy
How to Prevent Injuries in Your Growing Puppy
You've seen the gangly 11-month-old puppy bounding down the driveway only to end up head over heels in the trash can. At this age, puppies will push themselves to the limit and can easily hurt themselves. They also get easily distracted so that when they're running toward an object, such as yourself, the sound of a can opener can make them turn suddenly, causing feet and legs to get all tangled up.
Just like humans in adolescence, puppies are dealing with growth spurts and awkwardness ensues. They also have little sense of caution and react quickly to any sort of "prey," which can be a squirrel or a paper bag blowing down the street.
You don't always see your pup as he's getting injured so it's important to know the signs of an injury. Even if you do see your puppy run into a brick wall, it's likely that at first there will appear to be no injury because his adrenaline is running so high. If your puppy is suddenly limping, has trouble getting up, is licking a certain area constantly, or whimpers when he moves, you probably have an injury on your hands.
Prevention is the best medicine in this case and you can do several things with training and making spaces safe to avoid injury.
Common Injuries in Puppies
Sprains - Knee and ankle sprains are the most common injuries in puppies at this age. While a bad crash can definitely cause these, sometimes something as simple as jogging with your puppy can be the culprit. Look for signs of your puppy twisting his knee or ankle. It will be sore to the touch. Sprains are usually treated by wrapping the offending area.
Strains - Straining the muscles in the back is another common injury, as are neck and groin strains. These can occur during physical activity or may happen as a result of children climbing on Fido or your Fido wearing a doggie backpack that's too heavy. These can be harder to see but usually a puppy will favor a strained area. These can be treated with warm compresses and rest.
Broken Bones - These usually occur in the legs and are often the result of a fall. Likely, your vet will put a cast on your puppy and he may have to wear an Elizabethan Collar so he leaves the injured area alone.
Ways to Prevent Injuries in Puppies
Spay and Neuter - If you haven't spayed or neutered your puppy, injuries are more likely. This is because unfixed dogs are more likely to wander and are more likely to get into fights at places like the dog park.
Baby Gates - To keep your puppy from running frantically up and down stairs, put a baby gate at the top or bottom, whichever floor he is on.
Pick Up - Keep objects such as toys, books and clothing put away. Your puppy is less likely to trip over them that way.
Crating - Keep your puppy safe from injuries when you aren't home by crating him.
Leash and Fence - Make sure your puppy is on a leash at all times when you are outside the home or in an enclosed area such as a dog park or fenced-in yard. Do not assume that if you have the car door open your puppy will automatically run from the front door to it without a leash. Remember they are easily distracted at this time.
It's imperative that you catch any injury as soon as possible and, better yet, that you prevent them from happening. Though puppies heal well at this age, there is always the possibility that an injury won't heal completely or correctly and you might have a puppy with a part of him that doesn't work optimally.
Keep in mind that training comes in handy with prevention because a puppy who knows what "Slow!" means (to slow down) and who will come when recalled is less likely to turn the corner going 90 miles per hour. He'll grow into those lanky legs but, for now, try to teach him that slow and steady always wins the race.
Advice from Other Dog Owners
Puppies Eat Less When They are Teething
When my dog was teething his appetite decreased quite a bit. Our vet recommended adding water to his food to soften it up, which worked great. He did not recommend that we do that all the time because the hard food helps their dental hygiene. That worked for us! Ice cubes and toys in the freezer also helped (i.e. water down a rope toy and freeze).
~TALIE D., owner of Labrador Retriever