Getting a puppy can be one of life’s greatest joys, but new pet parents know the experience can also be overwhelming.
At Embark, we understand the unique challenges a new puppy can bring. We’ve put together this comprehensive new puppy checklist to ensure that you have everything you need to help your dog stay happy and healthy while adjusting to their new home.
What to buy for your puppy
While you’re sure to need more supplies along the way, here are some necessities to get you started. For more suggestions, check out our veterinarian-approved list of what to buy for a new puppy.
Puppies need a lot of calories to grow into healthy adult dogs, so the first item on your shopping list should be well-balanced puppy food.
Your veterinarian or the vet-approved resources below are great places to start if you’re looking for recommended pet food brands. The Purina Institute CentreSquare or World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) have helpful guides for selecting a balanced dog food diet.
In addition to food, you’ll need to purchase necessary items like food and water bowls, so your dog always has access to fresh water. Be sure that these are made out of a durable material and easy to clean.
Crates and beds
While not all pet parents choose to crate train their puppy, creating one or more areas of your home for your pup to feel safe and secure is essential.
Crates provide puppies with a sense of security and comfort and can be an excellent training tool. Crate training a puppy can also help prepare them for trips to the vet or the groomer later in life. When puppies are not directly supervised, it is important that there is a safe area where they can rest and avoid chewing or swallowing things that they shouldn’t.
Collars and leashes
Puppies are not yet fully physically or mentally developed, so their behavior is often unpredictable. While getting to know your puppy, you should be sure they are always on a leash when outside. Some pet parents will also choose to keep their puppies close to their side at all times (via the leash) indoors while working on potty training and for optimum supervision to prevent chewing or ingestion of hazardous materials.
By buying a collar with identification tags, a harness for walk time, and a leash, you can ensure that you have control over where your puppy goes when outside. Furthermore, identification tags are essential if your pup somehow gets away from you.
Be sure to put your phone number on your dog’s tag so that anyone who finds them will have a way of contacting you.
Grooming and hygiene essentials
Puppies are messy, so you’ll want to be sure you’re prepared to deal with the chaos by having some fundamental tools on hand, such as:
- A comb or brush
- Dog shampoo
- Waste bags
- Pet stain and odor remover (we recommend an enzyme or enzymatic cleaner specifically)
In addition to being prepared to clean up after your pet, you’ll want to invest in basic grooming tools like ear cleaners and nail trimmers. Working with your new puppy’s feet, ears, and teeth/mouths consistently from an early age can help to familiarize them with this handling so they are less nervous about it as adults.
Toys and teething essentials
Too many dog owners know the frustration of coming home to their favorite pair of shoes chewed up and destroyed by their new pup, but this can often be avoided by investing in appropriate confinement training tools and enrichment.
Playtime is essential to a puppy’s mental health, and often your dog’s chewing can be redirected onto toys, particularly teething toys, as their adult teeth come in.
Consider buying various toys, including plush toys, squeaky toys, balls, and chew toys, for your puppy to get a better idea of their preferences. Remember to supervise your puppy during playtime with any toy, especially if it is a new type of toy for them.
While new puppies are adorable, they’re also a handful! Investing in training tools and early training can ensure your puppy grows into a well-behaved adult dog. Helpful training tools include:
- Potty training essentials, including puppy pads (remember that some puppies may think that it is a lot of fun to tear, chew, and swallow pieces of puppy pads, so it is not a good option for everyone!)
- Training treats
You may also want to consider enrolling your puppy in an introductory manners class to get them off to a good start. “Puppy kindergarten” can be an extremely helpful training and socialization tool.
Embark Dog DNA Test
Lastly, consider adding an Embark Dog DNA Test to your new puppy shopping checklist. You’ll not only uncover your dog’s breed mix, but you can also learn essential information about your dog’s potential genetic health risks. Knowing this information early can help them lead a longer, healthier life.
Household goods to keep out of reach
Puppies are notorious troublemakers, meaning you’ll need to puppy-proof your house to keep them safe and out of harm’s way.
Just like human babies, puppies take a while to gain coordination. Therefore, to avoid accidents, take preventative measures such as placing baby gates at the top of stair wells to avoid accidental falling and covering pools to avoid accidental drowning.
Ingesting hazardous materials
Most accidents occur from puppies chewing on hazardous items or ingesting toxic substances. Be sure that the following items are out of reach for your new pup:
- Small items that are potential choking hazards (socks, children’s toys, etc.)
- Electrical wires
- Poisonous plants
- Household chemicals such as bleach or antifreeze
- Rat or ant poison
- Plastic bags
- Sanitary napkins
Contact Animal Poison Control for immediate advice if you believe your pet has ingested any potentially harmful substances.
Puppies may be attracted to warm items, especially when it’s cold. Be sure to use a fire grate at all times, and monitor items like space heaters, stoves, and hot irons to ensure your puppy doesn’t get too close.
Dangerous foods to avoid
While it’s a near-impossible task to resist those “puppy eyes,” there are some foods that our dogs really can’t eat. To keep your pet safe, you should familiarize yourself with everyday foods that are dangerous to dogs. These include:
- Onions and garlic
- Grapes and raisins
- Raw meat or eggs
- Macadamia nuts
- Cooked bones
- Raw dough
- Xylitol (commonly found in peanut butter, chewing gum, and other “sugar-free” foods)
It’s a good idea to research any foods you’re unsure about before offering them to your dog. The ASPCA is a great resource for investigating various foods and plants to see if they are toxic.
Questions to ask your vet
Your new pet’s first vet appointment may take longer than usual as you get used to puppy ownership and your vet gets to know your new pup. Responsible pet ownership includes regular vet visits, and you’ll want to have your puppy’s first vet appointment within the first few weeks.
Here’s a question checklist for new puppy parents to ask their vet:
- What is my puppy’s vaccine schedule, and when will they be fully vaccinated?
- When can they start to go to parks and be around other dogs?
- What type of heartworm and flea/tick preventatives do you recommend?
- When should I spay or neuter my pet?
- Where is the nearest 24-hour emergency vet?
- What should I feed my new puppy?
- Does my dog need any medications to go on walks or hikes safely?
- What are signs of possible overheating?
Feel free to ask your vet any other questions you’re curious about, as they are your best resource in caring for your new pet. For more tips, check out our comprehensive guide to planning the first vet appointment for your puppy.
Common health risks for puppies
Because their immune systems are still developing, puppies are at a higher risk than adult dogs for certain common health problems.
Puppies can easily contract external parasites like fleas and ticks but are also at risk for internal parasites such as Giardia, coccidia, and worms.
Keep an eye out for signs such as excessive itching and bugs for external parasites and symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and white dots in feces, which may all indicate internal parasites.
Kennel cough is a respiratory illness most commonly found in dogs and puppies from shelters housed in close physical proximity to one another. It often results in a dry cough, sneezing, and nasal discharge. Your pet may need antibiotics if their kennel cough is severe enough.
Parvovirus is a very severe gastrointestinal virus that can be fatal if left untreated. Fortunately, there is a parvovirus vaccine that your vet will suggest for your new puppy to help protect them.
If you’re unsure whether or not your dog has been vaccinated, watch for symptoms of parvovirus, which include:
- Diarrhea or blood in stool
If you believe your puppy may have parvovirus, contact your vet immediately.
Taking care of your new puppy
To set you and your dog up for health and happiness, download our New Puppy Guide with checklists that cover:
- What to buy for your puppy
- Household goods to keep out of reach
- Dangerous foods to avoid
- Questions to ask your vet
- Common health risks for puppies
And for more guidance, check out these tips for new puppy parents.