by Karina, RVT
There is nothing more exciting than picking out and bringing home a new puppy. Before you dive in, take a moment to consider the following:
- Does everyone in the household (including other current pets) want a new puppy, and do they understand and accept their roll in the care tasks they’ll be responsible for?
- Do you / your family have the time to spend caring for a new puppy?
- Do you / your family have the finances to support the costs associated with a new puppy, and ongoing costs of owning a dog?
- Does a dog fit into your life 10+ years in the future?
Before you go ahead and get a new puppy, there are a number of factors to consider if a new puppy is right for you and your family at this time. All members of the household should discuss together their feelings towards bringing a new puppy into the home. This also means taking into consideration any current pets, and how they will react to having a new puppy in the home. Care duties should be discussed to ensure each member will know what is expected of them when the new puppy comes, and everyone is aware of the amount of work a new puppy will be. Who will feed the puppy 3-4 times a day? Who will take the puppy outside for potty breaks, and who will clean up after the puppy? Who will be responsible for training the puppy and keeping a schedule in place for the puppy’s care?
A new puppy will take a lot of time to properly care for. Each day try to imagine if you already had a new puppy, do you have time every single day to devote hours to training, playing with, feeding, cleaning up after, and exercising a puppy? Will you be able to ensure the puppy is let outside every 30-60 minutes while house training? In the first couple weeks, this can mean a trip or two outside at night as well. The puppy will need vet visits every 3-4 weeks until he/she is 16 weeks of age. Once the vaccine series is done, the puppy should be enrolled in weekly puppy manners lessons.
Puppies are expensive, not just to buy (average puppy price approximately $1000), but to properly care for as well. The first 6-8 months are generally the most expensive when it comes to routine care. You’ll need to buy a kennel, collar, leash, food and water dishes, blankets, beds/pillows, toys, food, treats, etc (average cost $350-$500). Your puppy will also need a vet visit at 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age for healthy growth check-ups and vaccinations. Vaccines the puppy will receive will protect him/her against many viruses including parvo, which is a very common virus that is almost unavoidable. If a puppy contracts parvo, it is almost always fatal without veterinary care. Treatment for parvo can cost $2000+, and mean the puppy is hospitalized for a week or more, so it really is better for you and your puppy to ensure he/she is protected from this virus by vaccinating. The puppy will also need his/her neuter/spay at 6-8 months of age. The average cost of puppy vaccine series, spay/neuter, microchip, deworming, heartworm prevention, and flea and tick prevention for a puppy is approximately $1000-$1500 depending on the size of the pet, and the presurgical options you choose. This means in 6-8 months of puppy ownership, when it comes to buying the dog, accessories, and routine vet care, it could cost $2350 – $3000. This does not include ongoing costs, such as grooming, and dog food.
Look ahead. Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, even 15 years? A dog is a lifetime commitment. If you think you may move homes, change jobs, or have other major life changes (have kids, etc), make sure these plans will still work if you also have your dog. Shelters are full of previously owned dogs whose owners chose not to keep them for one reason or another. If you choose to get a puppy now, make sure he/she does not end up in a shelter in the future.
While it may seem daunting, these considerations should be well thought out before a new puppy is chosen and brought home. If you’ve read through this, and still feel prepared to bring a new puppy into your home, do your best to choose a responsible breeder or rescue to purchase your puppy or dog from.