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A beautiful, yellow-eyed cat receiving treatment. Doug Hall feeding a well-loved client.

December - A new puppy is not just for Christmas...

22nd November 2011
We all know how enticing puppies can be but we would like to encourage careful thought and research prior to falling in love with a little bundle of fluff. You need to know what you are letting yourself in for!

You need to ask yourself questions like:

* Do I have enough time for a dog?
Puppies are just like toddlers in their first few months, they require attention and training to become a well socialised and happy member of your family. The vast majority of behavioural problems in later life can be avoided by putting the effort in when they are young and socialising them well, by which we mean exposing them in a positive way to all the sights, sounds and smells that the world has to offer. A well trained dog will be a happier dog and a much more enjoyable pet. We are more than happy to further advise on puppy socialisation and recommend training classes.

Later on in their life, will you have enough time to exercise them and give them companionship? Walking a dog is an excellent way to keep healthy and a great way to unwind, but will you be happy to do it every day and in all weathers? We have excellent local dog walkers and dog sitters, but a young dog who is regularly left alone throughout the day whilst the family are out may turn to destructive behaviours and be "naughty" when you do spend time with them in the evenings.

* Do I have enough space for a dog?
Obviously a Great Dane will take up more space in front of the fire than a Bichon Frise, but it is worth considering the size of dog you bring into your home. Do you mind having to clear everything off the kitchen surfaces because your dog can reach them? Will they fit in the boot of your car when they are fully grown? Will your chosen breed be too strong and pull you over when training them to walk on the lead? The very popular Labradoodle grows to a size much larger than its Labrador cousins, sometimes to the great surprise of their owners!

At the other end of the scale we have noticed an increase in popularity of so-called "Tea Cup" dogs where a known breed has been mated to produce an even smaller version. These can be adorable puppies but by scaling down the size of the dog's jaws and skulls they may suffer with dental or respiratory problems. Also please remember that the smaller breeds are still dogs who love to exercise and play and they still need lots of walks.

* Can I afford a dog?
A recent survey suggested that dogs in the UK cost their owners an average of £17,000 over a 13 year lifespan. A third of that was their food! Good quality nutrition impacts on their overall health and wellbeing just the same as it does for us and so it is definitely worth buying dog food with quality ingredients. The costs of preventative healthcare should also be considered. Lungworm is an increasing problem in our area of the country. We have diagnosed and treated dogs at this practice and sadly heard of a fatal case in Alfold this year. Buying Advocate, a veterinary spot-on for routine flea and worming treatment, is more expensive than pet shop products, but it works and it also treats them for this potentially devastating parasite. Bear in mind that the cost of everything - food, bowls, collars, beds, neutering, medications or anaesthesia.. is all dependent on the size of your dog and the bigger ones will cost more. Finally, pet insurance is highly recommended. You never know when your new friend may need veterinary treatment, often in an emergency, and facing difficult decisions about costs can be avoided if you have taken out insurance.

* Please phone or come and have a chat...
By asking yourself these questions you will hopefully have had a serious think about responsible dog ownership, but please also feel free to contact us before purchasing. We are more than happy to give extra advice about the different breeds - their suitability for you and questions you should be asking a breeder about any specific health issues.

We love meeting new puppies but most of all we want to ensure that you get the right puppy who will be healthy, happy and a fantastic addition to your family.