With around 8.5 million pet dogs currently in the UK, vets are reminding potential, and current owners, that dogs are a long-term commitment and getting one is not a decision to be taken lightly.
Statistics show that over 100,000 dogs were handed to the local authorities between 2014-2015 and thousands of dogs are waiting to be adopted across the UK.
Vets are offering advice on important it is to properly prepare for a new puppy and reminding potential owners vets are always readily available to talk them through the best steps to take when getting a puppy.
Dr Huw Stacey, director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, said: “Puppies can be a great addition to the family, but it is essential that owners have everything in place for their new puppy and purchase it from a trustworthy place.
“Before getting a puppy, potential owners need to understand the responsibilities that come with having a dog and consider if a dog will genuinely suit their lifestyle.
“No one should ever get a dog on a whim. On average most dogs tend to live for ten years, so are a long-term commitment which comes with costs and a need for space, daily exercise and a lot of care and attention.
“Potential dog owners need to research breeders thoroughly. It is important to ensure the puppy is in good health and has been well cared for.
“We always recommend that people visit the premises of the breeder and see the puppy interacting with its mother, and only buy the dog if they are completely satisfied.
“It is also important to ask the breeder lots of questions about the breeding, the litter and their parents.
“Sadly there are thousands of dogs in need of a loving home in the UK, so getting a dog from a rehoming centre is definitely an option that potential owners should consider too.
“Wherever you buy your puppy from though, you need to make sure the puppy is vaccinated, microchipped and has the necessary vaccination certificates, contract of sale documents and certificates of screenings for problem diseases.”
And then there’s the all-important task of naming a puppy – a decision many families leave to their children.
“It’s always best to pick your dog’s name in advance, preferably a short two-syllable name. This way they won’t mistake it for commands like ‘sit’ and ‘stay’, and all members of the family have to stay consistent to avoid any confusion,” added Dr Stacey.
“To help a puppy feel comfortable it should have its own designated area of the house, away from any draught, for all their bedding, toys and bowls, where they can relax and sleep.
“One of the very first things to do once you’ve brought your new puppy home is to visit your local vets so you can register them, continue any ongoing vaccination courses and discuss insurance plans, which we recommend for peace of mind that your puppy is covered against any accidents or illnesses.
“It’s a good idea to start socialising your dog with other people and other healthy dogs right away, as this can help shape their future behaviour.
“Getting a puppy is a very exciting time for new owners and if they follow these simple steps they can start a new journey with a healthy and happy dog.”
For more information and advice on caring for a new puppy, please visit www.vets4pets.com/puppies.