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Introducing a pup to the family can be an exciting experience but it's important to consider whether it's the right choice for you.
PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing said, before setting your heart on bringing home a puppy, it’s important to understand that taking on any pet is a huge commitment.
She continued: “It’s easy to forget that bouncing little pups will soon grow into wonderful adult dogs who require lots of time and dedication. It’s therefore essential to ensure you can meet all of their welfare needs so they can live a happy, healthy life.”
Consider the cost: “Getting prepared for the arrival of your four-legged friend can be an expensive process and that’s just the start. You will need to be sure that you’re able to afford their ongoing costs including good quality food, poo bags, insurance and preventive healthcare such as regular flea and worming treatments and vaccinations.
Don’t forget things like leads and toys, which will need regular replacement through wear and tear. You will also need to think about the possibility of unexpected veterinary bills – even with insurance there is likely to be an excess that you will need to pay .
“Taking all of this into account, it’s vitally important to budget from the outset for the potential lifetime cost of owning your new pet. Depending on the size of your dog, lifetime costs could be around £20,000 - £30,000 but for some may be much more.
Some breeds may have additional needs, such as regular trips to the groomers, or be prone to certain health problems, which can result in further veterinary costs.”
Happy home: “Ensuring you can accommodate a puppy comfortably in your home is another crucial step. Ideally, they’ll need a secure garden or a safe outdoor space to run around in, and enough room inside to accommodate separate spaces for eating and sleeping.
You will likely have to ‘puppy-proof’ certain parts of your home too, so be mindful if you’re precious about expensive furnishings.
You can use our puppy checklist as a guide to everything you might need: www.pdsa.org.uk/puppychecklist
Loving lifestyle: “Pups need plenty of love, time and attention in their early years, so you’ll need to factor this into to your daily lifestyle.
A dog can’t be left alone for longer than 4 hours, and puppies shouldn’t be left unsupervised for much less than this, so if your job requires you to be out of the house with no one else around, you may need to consider whether a puppy is the right choice for you at this time. Ensure everyone in your household is happy to welcome a furry family member.”
Registering with a vet: “Do you know of any vets nearby to register your new puppy? You can find local vets online and on the RCVS website, as well as asking any responsible dog owners you know for recommendations.” (photos: Adobe)
Ask our expert
PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing answers all your pet questions
Dear PDSA Vet, my rabbit, Hopper, seems to be having problems with his teeth. The front ones are quite long and his mouth looks sore. How can I help him? Andris
Dear Andris, Hopper’s teeth may be overgrown, which can be very painful and stop him from eating properly. This won’t correct on its own and will only get worse if left – make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. If the front teeth are causing problems, the teeth further back that you can’t see will likely be causing problems too. Rabbits’ teeth grow continuously throughout their life, so once recovered, Hopper will need to eat lots of hay or grass to wear his teeth down. Rabbits should eat at least their body size in good quality Timothy or meadow hay daily, plus fresh rabbit safe greens and a tablespoon (2 if they’re a large breed) of commercially produced rabbit nuggets as a supplement. For more information, visit www.pdsa.org.uk/rabbits website.
Dear PDSA Vet, my dog Hilda keeps shaking her head from side to side and she won’t let me touch her ears (they seem to smell a bit too). Could she have an ear infection and if so, how can I help her? Samson
Dear Samson, there are a few possibilities for Hilda’s problem, including allergies, ear mites, an ear infection, or a foreign body stuck in the ear canal - amongst others! Ear conditions like these are often sore and cause a lot of discomfort, which explains why your pooch is shaking her head. You will need to book an appointment with your vet as soon as possible because, if left untreated, ear infections are painful and can progress to more serious conditions or even deafness. I wouldn’t recommend buying anything over the counter without having her ears examined by a vet first, as this could risk missing the underlying cause.
Dear PDSA Vet, my kitten Tulip has a cold that she can’t seem to shake off. She’s eating well and full of energy, but can’t stop sneezing. It’s been going on for a month now – what can I do? Cassidy
Dear Cassidy, sounds as though Tulip may have developed a respiratory infection, such as cat flu. It can cause chronic sneezing. Cat flu can make kittens and cats very poorly – despite eating well, Tulip may be feeling under the weather as cats often hide signs of illness or injury. She could also be spreading her flu as it’s very contagious and there’s also a chance that the illness could develop into something more serious, like a chest infection. It’s a good idea to take her to your vet to get a diagnosis. For more visit www.pdsa.org.uk/catflu website.