The joy of a new puppy or dog is magical.  It can also be overwhelming.  It has been said ‘there’s no such thing as as free puppy” and the costs should be considered before you venture into pet ownership.

Whether you adopt an animal from a shelter, purchase from a breeder or accept as a gift, you pet will need a few things.  Aside from the usual food, water and shelter, your new pet will need a Veterinarian and vaccines at some point.  Be sure to get a record of all shots when you receive your new pet and take it with you to your first visit.  If there is no record, your vet will assist you in determining which vaccines are needed.

Some Basics

Food  - If possible, find out what the puppy has been fed, so you can continue to feed it or if you choose to change, you can transition* your new pet into a new food.  Be sure to check out our section on “What’s In Your Dog Food?”

Bowls - We at Key West Dog prefer bowls to be made from a material that bacteria cannot leech thru, such as ceramic, sealed pottery or stainless steel.  We are not fans of plastic, no matter how cute they may be, unless they are sealed to prevent leaching.

Collar/Lead - It is not necessary to spend a lot of money on the first collar and lead set, especially if your pet will be growing.  Look for a cotton or nylon adjustable collar and a 4’ or 5’ lead.  Your tags should be put on your pets collar and the collar should be on your pet at all times.  This will allow them to be returned to you in the event you become separated.  We at Key West Dog also encourage you to have your pet microchipped by your vet.

Crate - Dogs are instinctively cave dwellers and therefore actually like having an enclosed space to call their own.  The crate will keep them safe from harm while you are away from home and keep them from getting into things they shouldn’t until they have been properly trained.  The crate will also be a safe haven for your pet when they are feeling insecure.  A crate should never be used as punishment. When choosing a crate, we encourage you to purchase a crate that can grow with your dog.  There are several on the market that have a removable panel to adjust the size of the crate to the size of your pet.  When you first use your crate, the space should only be large enough for your new pet to turn around and lay down.  This will assist in potty training. To much space, will allow them to do their business and still have a place to lay down. When putting your pet in a crate, you should remove its collar and not leave anything inside that could become lodged in their throat should they decide to chew (toys, treats, etc.)

Pee Pads (or newspaper) - Potty training can be quite a challenge.  Some breeds are easier to train than others. If your new pet is not potty trained already, you will need to make accommodations for an accident inside.  Newspaper training is a terrific way if you have sealed tile.  If you have wood or carpet, pee pads will prevent damage.  Decide upon a few key words to encourage your pet to go.  ‘Potty’ / ‘Do Your Business’ / ‘In The Garden’ / ‘Hurry Up Do Your Business’ are our favorites (these all sound so much nicer when you are in public).

Grooming Tools - Dog shampoo (conditioner if you have a new pet with hair instead of fur), slicker brush for removing loose hair, knots or matts (slicker brushes with plastic ends are nice for puppies or dogs with sensitive skin), nail clipper, toothbrush and paste (start early, it will save you a fortune in dental bills).  For a complete list of basic grooming tools, see our Grooming Basics page.

Something To Chew - Most of us don’t appreciate having our things chewed, so it helps to have something your dog is allowed to chew available from the start.  Most dogs chew whatever they can find, especially when they are teething.  It is important to be sure that you give your dog something they are healthy to chew (not their toys).  Dog toys are not meant to be consumed.  Whatever you give your dog to chew, will most likely end up inside of them.  Some of our favorite chews include;

Cow Hooves (very inexpensive, but very stinky),

Deer Antlers (sterilized and sold as a dog chew),

Uncooked Bones (we like the white ones as they don’t leave a big mess inside).

It is generally not safe to feed bones that have been cooked, as they tend to splinter. Although it is inexpensive and dogs love them, we are not fans of rawhide due to the controversy over its ability to become lodged in the pets digestive system.  As a safety precaution, your pet should never be left alone with something it can chew.

Toys - There are so many great toys to choose from for your new pet.  Tennis balls with squeakers, stuffed animals that look like monsters or giant fleas, tug toys, rubber toys, the list is endless.  Regardless of which toys you pick for your pet, for safety sake, please remember to never leave your pet alone with its toy.

A Virtual Mom - Many puppies are used to the warmth of their mother and siblings and their mother’s heartbeat. Many new puppies may not be able to sleep without these.  You can wrap a warm water bottle in a towel and place an old style alarm clock (one that ticks) in with the puppy when you put them to sleep in their new crate.  Or, you can check out     Snuggle Pups, the ‘virtual mom’ stuffed animal with warmer and battery operated heart beat.

When changing the type of food you are feeding, transitioning your pets food is necessary for most pets to prevent digestive upset.  Some pets transition quickly, some do not.  As a rule of thumb, transitioning over 4 weeks will ensure your pets digestive health.


    Week One - 75% Current (old) food / 25% new food

    Week Two - 50% old food / 50% new food

    Week Three - 25% old food / 75% new food

    Week Four - 100% new food

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