The Ultimate Puppy Checklist: Top 10 things to buy for your new puppy

Are you about to become a new puppy paw-rent? Have you been waiting for your new four-legged furry family member and it’s finally happening? Amongst all the excitement and nerves, don’t forget to prepare your home for your new puppy’s imminent arrival! Here is a checklist of the top 10 things to get for your new puppy and some tips to help you decide which type of products to buy.

1. Food and water bowls

Your puppy will require separate food and water bowls. There are many different bowls out there of varying sizes, material, colour, shape and price ranges!

  • Plastic bowls are a cheap and widely available option. However, take care if your puppy is a big chewer and make sure to discard their plastic bowl after a decent amount of wear and tear to avoid the risk of foreign body ingestion of any small plastic pieces. Over time, plastic bowls will also get multiple small scratches that are often teeming with bacteria, making it more difficult to clean properly.
  • Stainless steel bowls are easy to clean (dishwasher safe) and sturdier! They may be a more durable option for long-term use by your puppy! Look for stainless steel bowls with a non-skid rubber bottom to help prevent the bowl from sliding around.
  • Heavier bowls such as glass, stoneware or ceramic may be considered as they offer greater stability, especially if your puppy has a habit of flipping their bowl!
  • If your puppy is a deep-chested breed or a bit of a vacuum cleaner and inhales their food too quickly, they may benefit from an anti-gulp slow-feeding bowl with an assortment of maze-like ridges to help slow down your puppy during feeding time.
  • If your puppy is a larger breed dog or you are adopting a more senior arthritic dog, they may also benefit from an elevated feeder, allowing them to reduce stress on their neck and back when leaning down to feed.

2. Food and treats

You will be spoiled for choice when it comes to dog food at your pet store, supermarket or vet! There are several things to consider when picking the best food for your puppy.

  • Ensure it is life-stage specific, so targeted for puppies, not adults. Bonus if it is breed-specific! Avoid products that are marketed as being suitable for all life stages and all breeds.
  • Nutritionally complete AND balanced
  • Adheres to the Association of American Feed Control Official (AAFCO) nutritional standards. Bonus if they have also conducted the AAFCO feeding trials!
  • Palatability, especially if your puppy is a fussy eater

There are numerous treats out there for your puppy. If your puppy is an aggressive chewer, make sure you supervise them as they may consume treats too quickly or swallow pieces whole. Be wary of treats that may be too hard so avoid raw bones and deer antlers at all times. At My Vet Animal Hospital, every first time puppy consult comes with a puppy welcome bag containing a pigs’ or lambs’ ear as well as some sample treats from our friends at Pooch Pack (they’re 100% Australian owned and 100% natural, even you can eat them and confirm how tasty they are!)

3. Walking equipment: Collar, harness, leash

We recommend that every puppy has a collar, as it allows for immediate visual identification with a name tag. The most common collar is a standard flat collar that fastens with a buckle or clip. They are easy to slip on and off and are designed to retain their shape. The collar should be of an appropriate length so that it sits snug around your puppy’s neck with enough space to slide in two fingers. Don’t forget to adjust your puppy’s collar regularly as they will be growing quickly!

If you have a squishy-faced (brachycephalic) puppy, a smaller breed dog, or one that likes to pull, we recommend you get a harness. Ideally find a harness that is front-attaching so that the leash hooks on the front. Harnesses that hook on the back may encourage your puppy to pull you along like a cart or sled rather than heel next to you.

A leash is essential for controlling your puppy and preventing them from wandering or chasing. There are multiple types of leashes of different lengths and materials. Enrol your puppy into puppy preschool so they learn how to walk on a loose lead and have a chat with your trainer to help you determine the best type of leash for your puppy’s level of training and personality. Take care if you choose to have a retractable leash, as they can encourage dogs to pull and may not offer enough control (especially if you don’t retract fast enough during dangerous situations). Additionally the cord may become a choking, tangling or trip hazard if used inappropriately.

4. Crate and puppy gates for a puppy-proof play area

For most puppies, any new experience can be a little bit overwhelming or scary. A crate provides a small enclosed space that can act as a safe haven for your puppy when they are feeling a little bit scared or need a break. Some things to consider when picking out a crate and setting up a sleeping/play area for your puppy:

  • Ensure it is the right size for your puppy so that they are able to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably. Don’t forget to take into consideration your puppy’s future adult size. You may want to look for a larger crate with a divider panel so you can increase the size as your puppy grows.
  • Crates come in a variety of materials, making them suitable for different purposes with varying levels of durability, portability and ease of cleaning.
    • Wired crates offer great visibility, are durable, easy to clean and can be used for home or travel. You can cover the top with a blanket or towel if your puppy requires a more enclosed or covered space.
    • Plastic crates are lightweight and great for travelling or transport. Look for ones that have a removable top to allow for easy access to your puppy With some cushioning, the bottom can also be converted into a temporary bed. Take care during warmer months, as with less airflow, your puppy can overheat in them.
    • Fabric or soft-sided crates are lightweight and great for temporary use such as a space for your puppy to stay in if you bring your dog to work. They are, however, less durable, easier to escape from and more difficult to clean.
  • Provide your puppy with an enclosed open area for play. Puppy gates provide a safe space for your puppy to explore. Ensure it is sturdy enough and sufficiently tall enough so that your puppy can’t scale it or jump over it.

5. Soft bedding

While many of us love snuggling with our dogs in our own beds, sleeping with your puppy could result in a poor night’s rest, so it’s important that your new puppy has their own sleeping spot. Some of the factors to consider when picking a bed for your puppy are below.

  • Ensure it is the right size for your puppy so that they can lie flat, completely stretched out on the side without hanging over the edge. Don’t forget your puppy is going to grow a lot so consider buying a bed for their adult size.
  • Choose a bed that is easy to clean. Try and find a bed with a removable and washable cover as your puppy will likely get it dirty very quickly.
  • For puppies that like to curl up into a ball, you may wish to consider a bolster bed (with cushioned raised sides).
  • For larger breed puppies that like to stretch out, you may wish to consider a flat cushion bed or mattress-like bed.

6. Toilet training: pee pads, grass potty boxes, etc.

In general, puppies can hold their bladder an hour for every month of age (e.g. a 3-month-old puppy will need to go to the toilet every 3 hours). Pee pads are a simple and convenient way to help keep your home clean and start toilet training your puppy. They provide your puppy with a targeted toileting area that is separate to their sleeping and play area. However, don’t become too reliant on them indoors as it may teach your puppy that it is okay to relieve themselves inside. Slowly move the pee pads further away until they are outside to help transition them to toileting outdoors. Don’t forget to use lots of positive reinforcement and rewards!

You may also want to consider using grass potty boxes instead of pee pads.

  • Artificial/synthetic grass potty boxes will often work just like a plastic pee pad, giving your puppy a designated toileting area. Similarly to pee pads, take care to not be too reliant on them indoors as it may teach your puppy to toilet on other flat artificial surfaces around the house.
  • Potty Plant is Australia’s first real grass dog toilet! Puppies tend to gravitate towards real grass so they will often quickly adapt and learn to ‘go potty’ outside. It won’t magically toilet train your puppy so don’t skimp on putting work into toilet training! It may, however, save you time from having to transition your puppy from a pee pad or synthetic grass to the outdoors, and is also a great environmentally-friendly option.

7. Toys

Most puppies will have boundless energy

  • Ensure the toys are the right size for your puppy. They should be large enough to carry but not too small that they can be easily swallowed or stuck in your puppy’s mouth.
  • Provide your puppy with multiple toys that serve a variety of purposes (e.g. chasing, chewing, pulling, etc.
  • Pick toys that can be cleaned regularly and easily so look for ones that are dishwasher safe or washing machine safe.
  • If you have a very active puppy who likes to chew and play rough, you may wish to avoid soft plush toys or squeaker toys as there is a high risk of ingesting the stuffing or squeaker. In general, all toys should be played with under supervision.

Some of the top 3 types of toys that we recommend include:

  • Food-dispensing toys such as a hollow Kong that you can fill with treats or peanut butter. These are great for keeping your puppy entertained independently and can keep them occupied for hours!
  • Rubber toys and balls are great for high-energy puppies that like to chew as they are a softer material (have enough ‘give’) that won’t damage your puppy’s teeth but still durable enough for some rough play.
  • Rope toys are a great interactive way to bond with your puppy through a fun game of tug-o-war. Do not leave your puppy unsupervised and if the rope toy starts to fray, make sure you replace it to avoid your puppy from ingesting any loose strands. 

8. Grooming tools: brush/comb, nail clippers

Every puppy requires a good brush at home regardless of the length of their coat. Take care to choose the right type of brush(es) depending on your puppy’s coat and needs. Some common types of brushes include:

  • A rubber brush (like a zoom groom) is suitable for most dogs, especially short-haired breeds or ones that shed a lot, with the rubber working like a magnet to remove loose fur.
  • A slicker brush has a head with rows of angled thin wire pins packed tightly together and is suitable for dogs with longer hair, especially for thicker or curly medium/long-haired dogs. It is great for removing tangles and knots, but be gentle and take care to not scratch your puppy’s skin as it can be painful.
  • A bristle brush is suitable for most dogs (short bristles for short-haired breeds, long bristles for long-haired breeds) and is great for giving your puppy a smooth and shiny coat.
  • An undercoat rake should be considered for thick-haired, heavy-coated or double-coated puppies like Huskies, Pomeranians, Samoyeds and Golden Retrievers. They have widely set teeth that are designed to pass through the top coat and pull out any dead undercoat hair. A moulting comb with shorter pins (for the top coat) interspersed among longer pins (penetrating to the undercoat) may also be beneficial.

Your puppy will need to have their nails trimmed or clipped at home. Try and start as early as possible to condition your puppy for a positive experience by slowly introducing the clippers. There are multiple styles of nail clippers out there such as:

  • Scissor clippers which work exactly like scissors and are suitable for most dogs, especially large-breed puppies with thicker nails requiring a little extra force
  • Guillotine-style clippers where your puppy’s nail is inserted into the hole and a blade is lowered to trim off the end of the nail.
  • Grinding tools are an alternative for puppies who will not tolerate nail clippers. The grinding process takes a bit longer as you can only grind your puppy’s nails in short quick spurts to avoid them from heating up.

9. Bathing: Puppy/dog shampoo

Your puppy will inevitably get a little dirty and smelly as they continue to grow, explore the world, and have accidents. However, avoid washing them too often as less is better! Short-haired breeds can be washed every fortnight and long-haired breeds once a week. When choosing a shampoo and conditioner, make sure you consider the following:

  • Ensure it is a puppy/dog-appropriate shampoo! Human shampoos are designed specifically for humans and we have a very different skin pH to dogs. This also includes not using baby wipes either!
  • Pick a shampoo that is gentle for puppies such as Aloveen which has colloidal oatmeal and aloe vera.
Don’t forget to make bathing a fun experience by giving your puppy lots of positive reinforcement through toys of treats (e.g. spread some peanut butter on the tiles or counter, allow it to dry, and let your puppy lick away!)

10. Parasite preventatives: Flea, tick and worming

Make sure your puppy is covered for the 4 main parasites, especially if they are about to be heading outdoors:

  • Fleas
  • Ticks
  • Intestinal worms
  • Heartworm

Some parasite preventatives only cover a select number of parasites (e.g. Comfortis Plus covers fleas, intestinal worms and heartworm but not ticks and tapeworm), so depending on which products you use, you may require a combination of products to be completely covered. Don’t forget to check the label as they may all have varying frequencies of treatment. At My Vet Animal Hospital, we recommend Nexgard Spectra monthly chews for puppies from 8 weeks of age and >2kg body weight as it covers all four above main parasites in one convenient tasty chew. Always check that you are giving your puppy a preventative that is appropriate for their weight range and at the correct frequency.

Welcoming a new puppy into your family is an exciting and rewarding experience. At My Vet
Animal Hospital, our first-time puppy consults are 45 minutes long to allow for plenty of time to go through puppy care 101 and answer any of your burning questions. We are here to help you navigate the challenges of raising a new puppy so give us a call on 8484 2020 and pop by for a visit. We can’t wait to meet your latest furry four-legged family member!

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