Puppy Purchasing 101 for the Serious Forever Family

By Jaime Shriver, DVM
Associate Veterinarian, Clinical Toxicology

Puppies are cute, love able, fluffy, innocent.    They are the reason I became a veterinarian…they are also often impulse purchases.

Theodore - JamieMy puppy Theodore was an impulse purchase in his first family… Who wouldn’t love that face!  Nine months later, I met him when he showed up at the humane society.   He was afraid of stairs, because I don’t think he had ever seen them before.  It took me six months to house train him, because until he came home with me he had spent 20 hours a day in a kennel.  When I see pet owners bring home new little bundles of joy, it warms my heart.  But I often feel they are overwhelmed and unprepared.   So a few things to think about before you bring your little one home…

  1. Puppies take time – they need love and affection more than anything else.  Little puppies also really need frequent trips to go to the bathroom and may wake you up in the middle of the night… It’s worse than having a baby because you need to go outside with them.  Winter is not the best time for a new puppy – 1 am potty breaks at -20 degrees are never fun!  Plan to invest lots of time in your new puppy.
  2. They cost a lot… In the first year estimate $360 for food (more for a giant breed), $1000 for veterinary care and at least $250 for new supplies.  Consider investing in pet insurance – it can save you a lot down the road. Premiums are lower if you purchase the policy when they are young.
  3. Don’t choose the breed just based on aesthetics.  Different breeds have different personalities, needs and health issues.  Do your research and choose an animal that fits well with your lifestyle.
  4. Strongly consider a rescue, but keep in mind rescue animals can have more behavioral issues.  It is a very good idea to get to know a rescue prior to purchase.  Spend time with them if you can and you may even want to request an overnight.  Keep in mind that many rescue animals need a little extra TLC and you don’t want to be just another family that ends up rejecting them.   They are looking for their forever home, so you really need to be committed.

Planning for a new puppy, adult dog or any pet can make the transition easier for everyone involved and ensure a happy, healthy forever home.  Please pet owners – “shop” responsibly, consider time, costs and what truly is the best fit for your family.