At this time of year, it's very common for people to look into getting a new pet for the home - and of course, who can blame them! We've had a lot of people asking us recently about what they need for a new puppy they've gotten, and so we thought we might share this list with those of you who might need the advice!
Of course, the most important thing to consider for your new pet is how you're going to feed them! Now, typically when you get a puppy the breeder (or previous owner) will give you a bag of whatever food that the puppy had been fed up until that point. This isn't just a courtesy - it's important that puppies, and even adult dogs, do not have any sudden changes to their diet, as their digestion system will not react well to such changes. In this sense, if the breeder does not supply you any of the puppy's food, it is important to ask them about the specific product that the dog has been fed so that you can get hold of some, preferably ahead of the time that you bring them home. In addition, keeping the food the same can also help the puppy settle into it's new environment. A common mistake at this time is to get alarmed by the puppy not eating enough of the supplied food and making efforts to feed it other food in hopes that they would like it more. Be aware that this can be harmful for the dog - separation anxiety is normal for the puppy, and outside of extreme circumstances, the dog will begin eating normally again once they feel a bit more settled and are hungry enough. If the puppy refuses to eat at all for over 36 hours, that is when you may want to consider a visit to the vet or alternative solutions.
Now of course, it is totally possible to change your puppy's food if you want to do so, but be aware that any changes to the pet's diet should be made gradually over time. This can be done by mixing in the new food with your pup's usual diet bit-by-bit for one week. Buying a small amount of food is best here for those exact purposes - if you're buying from us, we have several puppy foods that we sell by weight that would be ideal for such occasions. You can read an article we have written about that by clicking here.
2) feeding and water bowls
You don't want to get home with your new pet only to realise at dinner time that you forgot to get a suitable set of bowls for them to eat and drink out of! Be sure to pick some of these up.
You will want to be mindful of the depth of the bowls, as if they are too high for your little pup they might not be able to properly use them! You might also want to consider getting a non-slip or heavier ceramic bowl, otherwise young dogs can sometimes tend to push their bowls around, which is a habit you probably won't want to encourage!
You may or may not feel alright with allowing the newest addition to your family to sleep on your bed with you at night, but that opinion may well change as the dog gets bigger and starts shedding more hair! Having a bed gives your dog it's own little space within the house to call it's own, as well as allowing you to have more space for yourself on the more comfortable furniture in the house!
The more comfortable the bed that you can get is, the better! But other considerations you will have to make is that you will want to be sure to get a bed with at least one side that is shallow enough for your puppy to climb in and out of by itself, and that you may want to consider buying a bed that will be an appropriate size for the dog once it is fully grown, so as to avoid buying a new one later.
4) Flea Treatment
Protection from fleas is especially important for puppies, as a flea problem could considerably impact the pup's growth and ability to thrive. Most breeders will treat fleas for puppies, but all flea treatments are temporary, and will eventually need to be re-applied. It's best to ask your breeder when the pup was last treated for fleas and how much longer you should expect that treatment to last. When the previous treatment does run out, it is recommended that you provide the pup with a new preventative treatment immediately, as the prevention of fleas is always much easier than treatment after an infestation occurs.
There can be a lot to understand about fleas, and so we have posted articles in the past about the flea life cycle and how you can use such knowledge to combat them. If you're interested, you can read that article by clicking here.
5) Worming Treatment
Like in the above section on fleas, worming is very important for puppies, and can be much more of an issue if not adequately provided. Most breeders will provide you with information on when the pup had last been provided with a worming treatment, and usually will state which product was used. They may also advise you on when the next treatment will need to be supplied. For reference, it is highly recommended that treatment is provided to puppies at 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 16 weeks of age. After those first 16 weeks, the puppy would then typically be treated as an adult dog would, which is typically every three months.
One thing to consider here as well is what types of worming treatment are available. There are different types of worms that a dog may become infested with, such as tapeworms, roundworms, and in rare cases, more specific types such as lungworm and flukes. Many generally-available worming treatments will typically only cover one specific type of worm, which may not be appropriate enough to defend your dog. For example, most roundworms are ingested by dogs when they explore outdoor environments with a lot of grass or other vegetation, so if you only typically walk your dog in the streets, you might feel safe enough to stick to a treatment that only covers tapeworms, and the most common way for a dog to pick up tapeworms is through ingesting fleas, insects, or other animals, so you may feel like you have your dog protected against these well enough that you only need to protect them from roundworms. However, in both of these cases, it's still possible for your dog to pick something up, and so a more comprehensive treatment is usually best anyway.
There are, however, plenty of options for treating your pet for both tapeworms and roundworms that are only available to certain businesses with particular licences, and these treatments are generally much more preferred due to their more thorough nature. Your vet is certainly one of these places, but we here at Pet Food Plus More are too! We typically have at least one Registered Animal Medical Adviser (or RAMA, formerly known as SQPs) that will be able to assist you in picking a suitable treatment and can prescribe them to you. These services will also typically be cheaper than visiting your vet, as there are no consultation fees!
6) Collar (and potentially, a Dog Tag!)
It is a legal requirement here in the UK to ensure that any dog that is in public has a collar (even when chipped!), which makes total sense when you consider what may happen if there is an accident and your dog manages to escape! Part of that legal requirement is also that the collar must have it's owners contact details written onto it, or, as most people opt to do, must have an attached dog tag with this information.
The legally required information to be included here is the name of the dog's owner and the owner's home address (a number or house name with the postcode should be sufficient), though it is also often recommended to include a phone number, particularly a mobile phone number, if possible, so that you can be contacted as soon as possible. One previously commonly included piece of information that it is not recommended that you include, however, is the dog's name, as unfortunately there are many criminals who have learned to call a dog by the name on it's tag to trick it into following them, and steal them away.
7) Training Leads
Walking a dog is, of course, a necessity, and you will definitely need to ensure that you can keep your dog under control during these walks - especially when it's a lively puppy that you're walking!
Though there are a lot of different types of leads on the market to choose from, training leads are the best kind of lead to use when training a puppy discipline while walking them. The idea is that you need a lead with enough length to have some 'give', but to keep it short enough that you can keep it close enough to you to keep it in control. The trick to using them is to simply stop walking when the pup walks far enough from you to pull the lead taught. It can take some time for the pup to get used to, but after some time they will get the idea that you are the one in control of the walk's pace, and that the dog is not allowed to stray too far from you.
It's also worth considering whether you might want a harness to go with the pup's lead, as it will spread out the strain on the dog across their body, rather than solely on their neck. They can also be quite fashionable!
8) Pet carrier, car harness, and/or dog cage
One thing you will definitely need is some sort of transport solution for your dog, whether for trips to the vet or for days out. It is now a legal requirement for pets, including dogs, to be properly restrained when inside of a car, and so can no longer sit on somebody's lap or sit in the front seat without restraints.
The three most common solutions for these are pet carriers, car harnesses, or dog cages. Pet carriers are generally very small and can be quite restrictive, but for a puppy or a small adult dog may be the best solution for you, especially if the dog is injured and you do not want to handle it in fear of worsening their condition. A dog cage would be better for larger dogs, as it will give them some possibility for free movement while also being sure to keep them safe and limit them from possibly interfering with your driving. A car harness, however, is the most popular choice, as it is usually a cheaper option, and does not rely on keeping the pet contained, making the experience generally less unpleasant for the dog and allowing other passengers (or the driver, when the vehicle is stopped) to interact with the dog more freely while it is still in the car.
As dogs need to be walked several times a day, it can seem unfair to have to take your pet outside in the cold and the rain, but some days you just can't evade it! Getting a coat for your dog can really be a good way of protecting them from the elements on these occasions - and if you can find the right one, can make quite the fashion statement too!
When you think about getting a coat, you should also consider what kind of coat you think would be best for the dog. For example, a long-haired dog with several layers of fur might not need a thick coat, and may just need a raincoat for when it is raining or muddy outside.
We would also like to recommend that you come and visit us in-store if you're thinking of getting a coat - it can be quite tricky to pick out a suitably sized coat from the internet due to how different each dog's body shape can be. If you bring the pup with you, our staff can offer you assistance in finding a coat that fits, and you can avoid the hassle of buying the wrong coat and returning it!
10) Chews, Toys, and Enrichment
One last consideration you will have to make for your pup is how you will keep the dog entertained. In that sense, it's important that they always have something to do, whether that's an activity toy that they can play with themselves, a toy that you can use to play with them, or a chew that they can idly nibble on.
It's best to get a mix of different things for your puppy and to try and find what kind of toys they might have a preference for. You would also want to make sure that the size and durability of the toy is appropriate - you will need something that is the right size for them to comfortably play with, and some dogs can be very destructive, and only the hardiest toys and chews might survive long enough for your satisfaction. As such, we generally recommend a ball or two, a chew toy (or an actual dog chew, once the puppy is old enough), and activity toy such as a treat ball or kong, and a soft toy for those puppies who don't seem too destructive.
And with that our article is concluded here. We hope this has helped you to either jog a memory or feel more informed - but if not, we're glad that you're fully prepared! If you would like more information on anything we have written here or found any of it confusing, feel free to come and see us in-store or give us a phone call, which can be found on our contact page, which you can get to by clicking here.
All of us here at Pet Food Plus More wish you all the best with your new best friend!
Head of IT for Pet Food Plus More.