Preparation is Key on Your Puppy’s First Year

Congratulations, you have a new puppy! Now what? There is so much excitement in the lead up to bringing a new puppy into home that sometimes we forget about the boring details. We are well prepared with a kennel, new toys, food, leash etc., but may not be thinking about the doctor visits, puppy classes and preventative medicine practices that will keep your puppy happy and healthy.

We anticipate fun activities like playing fetch at the park, teaching our friend new tricks and snuggling on the sofa. The reality can be more like sleepless nights, stepping in puddles of pee (always in sock feet) or having that new pair of shoes chewed apart. We complain about these things then look into those sad but hopeful eyes, and all is forgiven. Who can resist puppy eyes?

As someone who works in a Veterinary hospital, I sometimes see a different side to your puppy’s first year. I see unanticipated puppy visits (and therefore unexpected costs) for diarrhea, vomiting, cuts and broken bones (just to name a few things). I see worried owners who are scared of losing their pet and wondering how to pay for treatment. People are upset that house training is not going as smoothly as anticipated. Children are tired of being a chew toy for their new puppy. Not only can that first year bring hours of fun and memories that will last a lifetime it can also bring stress and anxiety.

My advice to anyone thinking of getting a new puppy (or dog or cat) is to plan ahead. Preparation is key to make this first year as enjoyable and stress-free as possible. Be prepared for three sets of puppy visits with vaccines. Puppies need parasite prevention products, socialization classes followed by obedience classes, professional grooming, and neutering. These are the basics and expenses go up when sickness occurs. I spent around $ 1500 to $2000 on my last puppy in his first year. This included medical costs as well as splurges on toys, beds, coats, and treats. That is a large number, and I do not want to discourage people from getting puppies. I just want to try to give a picture of the reality of cost for a puppy’s first year. Pet insurance can help with accidents and sudden illness. It may not be right for everyone but can be a lifesaver for many.

My hope with this blog is to remind people that puppies need a lot of things in their first year (just like babies). Puppies are so much fun and bring so much joy to our lives but require a lot of work and money. I hope this reminds people to do their research and be completely ready before they bring home that wonderful, furry forever friend. The companionship and unconditional love they give us well outweighs everything else. My dogs drive me crazy at times, but I would not be the same person without them. Here’s to a happy first puppy year to everyone!

Written by Dr. Pam MacKay



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