Bringing home a new puppy is fun, exciting, and heartwarming. But if you haven’t prepared beforehand, it can be a stressful experience for you and your new pet. In order to make this experience as positive as can be, here’s a veterinarian-approved list of what to buy a new puppy.
Food and treats
Food should be the #1 item on your shopping list when figuring out what to buy for your puppy. There are a few factors to consider when choosing the right food. For starters, it needs to be specific for puppies, not all life stages. You want a brand that meets AAFCO standards, has a high calorie and protein count, and accommodates your puppy’s expected size. For example, a Beagle puppy and a Great Dane puppy need different food for their musculoskeletal growth, even if they start off at the same size. For more information, you can refer to WSAVA’s dog food guidelines.
If you’re not sure how big your pup will end up because of an unknown breed mix, DNA testing can help by examining dozens of loci that affect weight and/or height in dogs. Embark uses a proprietary algorithm to estimate a dog’s size by comparing its genetic size variants to a subset of dogs with known body measurements.
Don’t just assume that more expensive means better quality when it comes to your pup’s food. Do some homework beforehand to pick a few top brands, then take time to read the nutritional facts on the back of the bag when you’re in the store. If you have a vet already, you can discuss their recommendations and even try a few free samples. Just be aware that you’ll need to transition your puppy’s diet slowly if you’re changing their food from whatever they were eating before coming home with you.
You’ll also need food and water bowls. There isn’t much to get wrong here. The main thing to consider is size. Your puppy should be able to eat out of the bowl easily without spilling everywhere. Shallow bowls with steep sides should get the job done. You may also want to consider stainless steel for the material to help make cleaning them easier.
Wearables: collars, tags, and leashes
When looking at collars to buy for your puppy, consider getting one that can adjust in size as they grow. Also check that your pup won’t be able to slip out of it easily. Some breeds have longer, thinner necks, so check to see if the collar fits well without being too tight.
For some dogs, a harness works better in place of a collar. They’re more helpful for training by giving you more control of your dog while they wear it. They’re also safer than collars for smaller dogs with weak tracheas.
A leash should give your puppy enough room to roam around but be short enough to keep them at your side during the early stages of training. Go for a thicker leash so teething puppies won’t be able to chew through it. Retractable leashes are not recommended, as they can injure you and offer poor control of your dog.
Most pet stores have an ID tag maker to add your dog’s name and contact info to their collar. You might think your puppy is too small for running away to be a serious risk, but it won’t be long before they’re big enough to hatch an escape plan. If you adopted your dog with a microchip already in place, a tag isn’t a total necessity. Just be sure to update the chip with your contact information. (If your dog doesn’t have a microchip, discuss the time for placement with your veterinarian.)
Your puppy’s bed is another purchase that can be informed by their breed mix. Knowing how big your dog will end up being can help you pick a bed that lasts long-term. You can also look at how short or long your dog’s coat is to decide if you need a warmer bed or not. For practical reasons, make sure the bed you choose is chew-proof and easy to clean in case of accidents.
Potty training tools: crates and training pads
Potty training tools are essential supplies to buy for your new puppy. To start, crates are a great aid for house-training. Dogs are den animals, so it’s good for them to have a space of their own that they can retreat to when they want to unwind. Think ahead when you’re picking out a crate. How big will your puppy be when fully grown? Dogs need a crate large enough for them to stand up in, turn around, stretch out, and lie down. While they’re puppies you can cut down on the space with dividers or even cardboard boxes. You don’t want to give them enough room to lie down in one corner and relieve themselves in the other. Just remember that crates should be used for training, never as a punishment.
Training pads are also very helpful. Choose a training pad that combats odors and has high absorbency—four to five layers is ideal. Other features can be helpful, too. Some training pads include an attractive scent to draw your dog to the pad and an adhesive to keep the pad from sliding on the floor. Think about what you need for your living space and where the training pads will go.
Chew toys are a great gift to buy for any teething puppy, and there are all kinds to choose from: toys that double as dental cleaners, toys that can store treats, and even toys you can freeze to soothe your pup’s gums. Whatever you end up buying, the main thing to look out for is choking hazards. Make sure the toy is too large for your puppy to swallow and doesn’t have any small pieces that’ll break off easily. You also want to avoid any toys that resemble household objects you don’t want chewed up like shoes and TV remotes. While your dog is in their puppy phase, you’ll want to avoid rope toys, rawhides, and bully sticks.
Bath and grooming supplies
You can hold off on giving your puppy a bath until they’re a few months old, but don’t wait too long. The earlier you start the bath routine, the more comfortable your puppy will be with it as they grow older. There are a few bath supplies that’ll help: puppy-specific shampoo, a nonskid mat for your puppy to stand on, dog towels or drying gloves, and a brush if your puppy has a longer coat.
Ear cleaners and nail clippers are good early investments. Just like bath time, it’s good to get your puppy used to these grooming methods while they’re young so it won’t be as much of a hassle when they’re older. Go for a gentle all-purpose ear cleaner that’s not water-, alcohol-, or vinegar-based. You can ask for a demo of both at your first vet visit.