||: Choosing your puppy
What to ask your vet prior to buying a puppy
There are many factors to consider before choosing a puppy, and your veterinarian will be able to assist and guide you. Deciding what type of dog suits your home and lifestyle is probably the most important question, and your vet will want to know how much time you can spare for your pet's exercise, play and grooming needs.
If you're considering a particular breed, ask your vet what genetic diseases you need to watch for. German Shepherds and other large breeds, for example, are prone to hip dysplasia, and good breeders will have their pups' hips checked ('hip scores') prior to sale.
Every breed has its own special needs: Cocker Spaniels and other dogs with floppy ears, for instance, will require their ears to be checked regularly, as they are more prone to infections. Dogs like Shi Tzus and Maltese Terriers need extra grooming to avoid matted fur. And if you're thinking about getting a dog that's been bred to work, like a Border Collie, Cattle Dog or a Kelpie, make sure your schedule (and yard) has the room to give these dogs the extra mental and physical stimulation they'll need.
Cross-breed dogs make equally fine pets, and of course, will have their own needs. Ask your vet about the different general groups of dogs (gun dogs, toy dogs, herding dogs, sporting dogs, terriers, etc), as this will give you additional hints in choosing the right dog.
Until vaccinated, your pup will need to avoid parks and neighbourhood streets where diseases can lurk. Your vet will also be able to go through your pup's vaccination schedule and let you know when it's safe to take your pet exploring.
Heartworm prevention is crucial in most areas, and your vet can discuss the options, which include once-a-month tablets or an annual injection. Your vet will also explain what precautions you need to take against worms and fleas.
While you're at the vets, why not ask whether there's a Puppy School at the clinic or the local training club. Puppy Schools are a fantastic way for dogs to socialise with other dogs. Not only is it fun and fascinating for puppies, but they also learn to get along with other dogs in the process.
Also consider asking your veterinarian about:
While a new canine arrival will have all your friends and family chiming in with advice, your vet is your most reliable and accurate source of information.
- Dogs and children, selecting the right breed, and how to manage introductions.
- Canine nutrition.
- Choosing a healthy pup.
- Choosing the most suitable pup from a litter.
- Advice for the first few days at home.
- Household products that are toxic to dogs (e.g. chocolate, onions).