Getting a puppy is a big decision, it can bring a lot of love into your home but will also require some adjustments.
Our guide will give you tips on choosing a breed, what you need at home, pet insurance, and an overview of Lucy's Law, the legislation that affects the breeding and selling of puppies and kittens.
To start with, many new puppy owners panic when their dog is sick or shows any sign of illness. It's fairly common for puppies to be sick in their first few weeks.
Although there might be no reason for alarm, it's always worth speaking to a vet if you're worried. With Bought By Many pet insurance you can video call a vet 24/7 through FirstVet so you can get expert advice without leaving your home.
On 6 April 2020 the Government introduced Lucy's Law, which means that anyone who wants to buy a puppy or kitten that is under 6 months old must deal directly with a breeder or animal rehoming centre.
Licensed dog breeders are required to show puppies interacting with their mothers in their place of birth. Find out everything you need to know about Lucy's Law here.
See our latest guides to caring for pets during coronavirus.
Should I buy or adopt a dog?
When looking to buy a puppy, be sure to go to a reputable breeder. The Kennel Club has information including a list of approved breeders.
Alternatively, there are hundreds of rescue centres across the country. You might not always find a puppy but they often have young dogs who need a home and caring owners. Support Adoption For Pets can tell you where your nearest rescue centres can be found or a quick Google should give you an idea.
How much does it cost to own a dog?
According to the PDSA, it can cost up to £16,000 to care for a dog across its lifetime.
Although owners should be prepared for the costs that come with looking after a dog, don't forget they will be spread out over a number of years. And there ways to spend less or protect yourself from unexpected bills, such as considering pet insurance.
Sarah Dawson, who is a Qualified Vet Nurse and Bought By Many's Technical Claims Manager, says there are four key costs new pet owners need to think about. They total around £600 in the first few weeks, on top of what they pay to buy their puppy or kitten.
- The basic essentials - £225 - This can include everything from a bed, food and water bowls, toys and chews to keep them stimulated, pet food to a lead, collar and tag. Prices vary and its key to remember your pet will grow quickly so owners should shop around for the best deal. Food should be calculated as part of an owner's monthly outgoings, usually around £25 for medium-sized dogs. Check out our guide to what new pet owners need to buy and where to get it.
- Routine health care - £150 - Make sure you budget for flea, worming and vaccinations. Initial treatments for puppies and kittens might come to £150 depending on size and breed. Annual boosters will cost around £40 after that. These preventive treatments are not covered by insurance.
- Vet bills and insurance - £15-32 (monthly) - The most common claim for vet treatment can cost almost £500, and some other long-term issues like hereditary heart diseases can cost up to £5,000 to manage. Many owners choose to take out pet insurance so their pets have access to the best treatment without having to worry about the bill. The average annual cost of insurance is £386 for dogs but the cost of insurance will depend on the type of policy you take, where you live, your pet’s age and breed. Get a quote for our policies here.
- Training and behaviour - £125 - We’ve seen a rise in behaviour-associated claims for younger pets, which can cost an average of £252 per claim, so it's always best to start training early. Some online training courses can cost around £125 but at the time of writing, new Bought By Many customers can get a discount on The Dog Coach's online training course.
What kind of puppy should I get?
There isn’t one way to choose which breed is right for you; it is dependent on your lifestyle, home, location etc.
However, prospective owners should apply some common sense; if you live in a flat in an urban area it might be worth considering a smaller dog that doesn't require as much exercise as a more boisterous breed.
Large dogs like Labradors can make great family pets for those with big gardens and plenty of time for walks.
It's worth narrowing it down to a few breeds that might be a good fit before doing in-depth research. You need to think about your situation as well as the needs of the puppy.
Talk to vets, friends who have experience with dogs, join Facebook groups and forums to ask owners questions or reach out to breeders.
You might want to take some online advice with a pinch of salt but when you speak to enough people and use legitimate sources, you should get a picture of the breeds that will be a good fit in your home.
It is also worth bearing in mind that some breeds can cost a lot more to insure than others - take a look at what different breeds cost to insure.
How much attention does a puppy require?
This is probably one of the most important things for you to consider. And the simple answer is, they will require a lot of your time in the first few weeks. Puppies need love, attention and regular exercise. Not to mention a lot of training and a stable daily routine.
They may not be able to go out for walks until they've had all their vaccinations so you'll have to keep them entertained at home. You'll want to keep a close eye on them to make sure they don't eat anything they shouldn't or destroy any of your prized possessions.
Once they've settled in and if you then need to leave the house for long periods of time you will need to consider getting a dog walker or a pet sitter.
How to choose dog insurance
Most people who decide to get pet insurance do it to cover the cost of expected vet bills.
If a pet needs major surgery or develops an ongoing condition that requires vet treatment and medication over many years, vet costs can run to thousands of pounds. For example:
- Luxating patella – if your pet needed surgery on both knees this could cost £1,600
- Heart problems – open heart surgery can cost up to £10,000
- Hip dysplasia – if your pet needed both hips replaced, it could cost £7,000
You will want to consider what the right policy is for you.
Most providers offer different levels of cover, from basic, which would only cover your dog if it was in an accident, to premium, which would cover you for a wider range of ailments including dental problems.
You will need to decide whether to have an per-condition or a lifetime policy.
Lifetime (or ‘yearly limit’) insurance covers vet fees up to the stated limit every year. This can be a good option if you worry about your pet developing a long-term or recurring illness. So long as you renew a lifetime policy each year, the level of vet fees will reset to the full stated limits that you started with.
With a lifetime product, it is important to note that your premiums will increase each year at renewal. This is different from a per-condition policy, where a particular condition can become excluded once the condition limit is reached. Please note that your excess might also increase as your pet gets older.
It's worth shopping around to see the different cover levels and prices. Check reviews from customers and talk to vets and other pet owners to see what they. Check out Bought By Many's award-winning pet insurance here.
See more our guides for new pet owners: