Few things in life are more exciting than bringing home a new puppy!
But caring for an animal is also a huge responsibility.
It’s up to you to keep your new pet safe, healthy, and happy.
The Responsibility Of Pet Ownership
If you’re a new dog owner, it can be difficult to know where to start.
To make the transition into pet ownership a little bit easier, we’ve put together a helpful checklist.
Here are nine steps that will set your puppy up for a long and healthy life.
1. Find A Vet
The first and most important thing on your new puppy health checklist should be to establish a relationship with a local veterinarian.
If you’re not already connected with a vet, you should pick one before bringing your puppy home.
One thing to consider when finding a vet is convenience.
Are they located nearby? Do their hours work with your schedule?
It’s also important to choose a vet that comes highly recommended. If you don’t have pet owner friends to ask, you can read reviews online.
Your vet should also be someone you feel comfortable with. After all, you will be entrusting them with the care of a family member!
If you start going to a vet and then decide you don’t feel 100% comfortable with the services you are receiving, don’t hesitate to find a different office.
2. Schedule Vaccinations
Just like baby humans, newborn puppies require vaccinations to prevent severe or fatal illnesses like parvovirus, Bordetella, and giardia.
Vaccines for dogs are given in a series, and it’s important to follow the schedule in order to remain effective. Some vaccines also require an annual booster in order to continue protecting your dog.
Certain vaccines are required for all dogs, while others—referred to as non-core vaccines—are only required if you meet certain lifestyle requirements or live in a certain area.
3. Start Flea, Tick, And Heartworm Treatment
Beyond vaccinating your puppy, you also need to consider how you’ll protect your puppy against fleas, ticks, and heartworms.
These parasites are common in dogs and can cause serious health issues, or even death, if your pup isn’t properly protected.
Talk to your vet to determine the best course of action in order to protect your pup against these parasites. It’s also important to educate yourself on best practices for avoiding fleas and ticks, and how to recognize heartworm symptoms in dogs.
4. Consider Pet Insurance
Pet insurance isn’t for everyone, but it might be something to consider if you plan to bring home a puppy soon!
Many pet owners are okay with paying out-of-pocket for standard vet procedures, but what happens in case of an emergency?
No matter how careful you are, accidents happen.
Puppies are known to ingest things they shouldn’t, and dogs can develop chronic illnesses later in life that you never would have expected when they’re young.
In these cases, pet insurance can help. Most pet insurance policies cover broken bones, toxic ingestion, surgery, prescription medications, and dental illnesses.
Considering how quickly vet bills can add up—the average dog owner in Canada spent $4,412 on their pet in 2021 – pet insurance is a great investment for many people.
5. Plan For Spaying Or Neutering
Everyone knows that spaying or neutering your dog helps with population control.
But did you know getting your pup fixed can also help prevent major health issues?
In male dogs, neutering can prevent prostate problems and testicular cancer. And in females, spaying can help prevent breast tumors or uterine infections.
Talk to your vet to determine the best time to get your dog fixed. The timeline for spaying and neutering varies depending on your dog’s gender, breed, and temperament.
6. Get Your Puppy Microchipped
In a perfect world, your dog will stay with you always. But the sad truth is that sometimes, dogs run away.
As much as they love you, their curiosity can get away from them!
An open door or loose gate just might be too much temptation for a curious and adventurous puppy.
The best way to be reunited with your puppy in case they run away is to get them microchipped.
The vet will place a small chip beneath your dog’s skin in a simple and non-surgical procedure. Sometimes, the microchipping procedure can be done while your dog is being spayed or neutered.
Once chipped, if your dog is ever lost and then found by someone else, any vet’s office can scan them for the chip. They can then use the chip’s database information to bring your dog back home.
7. Choose The Right Dog Food
Have you thought about what your puppy will eat after you bring them home?
Be sure to choose pet food that meets your dog’s nutritional needs. There are different dog food formulas for different stages in a dog’s life. If you’re not sure what exactly your dog needs, your vet can help you decide.
You should also talk to your vet about establishing a proper feeding schedule based on your dog’s breed, age, and lifestyle. Meal subscription services like Pet Plate can help with this.
Even if you’re feeding them the best food, overfeeding your dog (or not feeding them enough) can have a negative impact on their health.
8. Puppy Proof Your Home
Keeping your puppy healthy is one thing, but keeping them safe is another!
Your dog will spend most of its time at home. Will their surroundings be safe enough?
Take some time before bringing your dog home to puppy proof your environment, both inside and out.
Keep in mind that puppies are extremely curious creatures who love getting into things they shouldn’t mess with!
Medications, cleaning supplies, and electrical cords should all be out of sight and out of reach. Ensure that all human food is kept out of reach as well, as some foods are dangerous if ingested by puppies.
And make sure all of your windows and doors close and lock securely.
9. Establish A Grooming Routine
Grooming your dog helps them look great and smell better, but did you know it can also keep them healthy?
Brushing your dog’s hair regularly, especially with long-haired breeds, can prevent matting and skin issues.
Trimming their nails keeps them from painfully splitting. And brushing your dog’s teeth is crucial for promoting good teeth and gum health.
New Puppy Checklist
So those are 9 important things to think about when bringing home a new puppy.
Doing things right from the start can help prevent problems in the future.
While diet is one of the most important things for a dog’s health, parasite prevention and these other suggestions are as well.
Talk to your vet if in doubt about anything, and don’t be afraid to get 2 or 3 opinions.
One final suggestion for good food – check out Raised Right Dog Food – it’s good stuff!