Congratulations! You’ve become a puppy parent - and you can now look forward to both joy and mayhem as your furry friend settles in its new home. Raising a pup isn’t just about playtime and adventures however, and you’ll also need to think carefully about its health and wellbeing.
For some, the need to manage a puppy’s welfare can be overwhelming, especially when it seems like there’s so much to get done in the first weeks and months. Use our puppy priority checklist to plan for all your pup’s needs - from their first day with you, right through to adulthood.
Choose a vet
Don’t wait until your puppy actually becomes ill or injured to start looking for a vet. Registering with a veterinary practice is something you should do on day one, or even before your pup actually arrives. Puppies are more susceptible to numerous illnesses than adult dogs, and can be quite accident-prone.
Medical emergencies are stressful, and you’ll your pup to get the treatment it needs as quickly as possible. With that in mind, you really don’t want to end up calling round vets to register, if your dog unexpectedly gets sick or hurts itself.
If you’re not sure where to start, you can use the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ ’Find A Vet' tool to look up practices near you. Think about things like travelling distance and opening hours before you make your decision: it’s no use registering with a practice a half hour drive away if your puppy gets car sick, or one that’s only open when you’re at work.
If you got your puppy insurance from ManyPets, and have vet fee cover, you can also get unlimited, 24/7 online vet advice.
ManyPets offers unlimited online access to UK-registered vets, so that you can get fast, expert advice if your pet looks unwell or has an injury. In the last year, nearly 60% of calls to the service were from worried puppy parents: vet advice could potentially save you the stress and expense of a midnight vet dash, or put your mind at rest for milder ailments.
Check for a microchip
In the UK, all dogs over 8 weeks old must be microchipped. If you’re buying from a breeder, your puppy should already be chipped. If your puppy is a rescue, you may need to get it microchipped by your vet.
The microchipping process is quick and easy, and involves a half-inch chip being inserted under your puppy’s skin. The chip contains identifying information about your dog, including your contact details, which can be scanned and checked against a database if it ever goes missing. If your vet places the microchip, they can register your contact information for you but if not, you need to make sure the contact details linked to the microchip are accurate (name, phone number, address, and so on).
Sort out flea and worm treatment
Your puppy should have had its first worming treatment with its breeder at a few weeks of age, but they’ll need to continue to receive treatment regularly - with the frequency changing as they age. Make sure you find out what type of worming treatment your pup has been using, and how many doses they've had, and then consult with your vet for a schedule of ongoing treatment.
It’s also a good idea to use a preventative flea treatment once a month on your puppy.
Initially, you should talk to your vet in order to find your puppy a suitable flea and worm treatment. Most flea and tick products are approved for use over 8 weeks of age, but this varies by individual product so it’s essential that you discuss this with your vet to be sure you’re using a safe and effective product. Going forward, you can use subscription services that deliver the correct dosage of further treatments for your pet, when you need them. Subscriptions are a handy way for busy puppy parents to stay on top of parasite protection.
The ManyPets flea, tick and worm plan offers treatment that can protect your pet against these parasites. You’ll get a discount on the plan and don’t need to have an insurance policy to buy it.
It’s critical that you get your puppy vaccinated. With most vaccine products in the UK, your puppy will need an initial course of two jabs, with the first given around 8 weeks of age (which means the breeder may have taken care of it), and the second typically given 4 weeks later. The next vaccination due date is then one year later.
It’s worth making a vaccination appointment as soon as you register with a vet so that you don’t forget. The cost of vaccinations can vary significantly depending on your vet, and on where you are in the country.
Until you’ve taken care of their vaccinations, you shouldn’t let your pup have any contact with unvaccinated dogs. Having said that, it’s still important to get your puppy ready for the world, so it’s worth having a conversation with your vet about the best ways to start socialisation in those early days - and beyond.
Ask your vet about the pros and cons of having your puppy neutered (spayed or castrated). If you’ve decided to go ahead with the procedure, the right time to get it done will depend on your puppy’s breed, size, lifestyle, and gender.
The cost of having your dog castrated or spayed will also vary depending on their size and weight, and some vets will charge more for the procedure than others.
Start the training
Training your puppy can give you a lot to think about, including whether you’ll develop a training plan yourself, use online resources and training videos, or attend classes in person. It's a good idea toget started with puppy training on its very first day home - and focus on toilet training in particular. You might also considercrate training for your puppy.
Find a sitter
In those first days, you’ll probably want to spend all your time with your puppy - and the feeling’s probably mutual! Sooner or later, however, you’ll have to leave the house without them and whether that’s just to go to work, or to go on a holiday abroad, it’s a good idea to plan their care in advance.
Ask around for recommendations for local pet sitters or dog walkers. When you find a suitable sitter, make sure you check that they’ve got the right insurance.
If you’re going on holiday, you might also consider a boarding kennel, or finding a home boarding service - which involves your dog going to stay in someone else’s home. There are also sitting services that allow you to pick a sitter who will stay at your home while you’re away. If you do need to board your pup at a facility, it’s best to wait until your pup is fully vaccinated (with most vets saying they are likely protected around 3-4 weeks after their second initial vaccine booster).
Consider puppy insurance
Puppy insurance is key to a preventative approach to your puppy’s welfare. For owners with particularly adventurous puppies, insurance provides peace of mind that you’ll be able to manage the cost of treatment in the event of a bump or scrape that requires a visit to the vet. It’s also worth remembering how vulnerable puppies are to illness and disease in their early years: if you take out pet insurance after your puppy develops a medical condition, it might be much more expensive to treat.
Beyond accidents and injuries, your puppy insurance can also help with other costs, such as dental issues, and may come with extra perks such as online vet advice.
Shop for your puppy
Now you know what you need to do for your puppy (and when), it’s time for the fun part: getting your pup all the big and little things it needs for its arrival in its new home. To help you get started with that challenge, we’ve put together a special new puppy shopping list.