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New Puppy Checklist: 16 Essential Items

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Getting a new puppy can be one of the most exciting, fun, and fulfilling times in your life. There will be moments full of surprise, joy, and elation—as well as occasional frustrations. But it’s all well worth it, as new puppies can bring such positive energy to any household. 

Before you embark on this journey, it’s good to be prepared. To meet your puppy’s basic needs, you’ll need to take everything from nutrition and playtime to health and safety into consideration. Here are 16 essential items you should include on your new puppy checklist.

New Puppy Checklist: 16 Essential Items

Food & Water Bowls 

puppy eating

Puppies like to chew and play with anything and everything—and their food and water bowls are no exception! Metal or ceramic bowls are ideal, as they are more durable than plastic. Plastic bowls may also be harmful if ingested. 

Puppy Food 

You’ll also need to consider what you’re going to put inside your puppy’s food bowl. Aside from asking your veterinarian what to feed a puppy, you can talk to the shelter or breeder to learn more about your pup’s preferences. 

Puppies should be fed two to three times a day, depending on their age and size. Find out what type of food your puppy has been eating, how often, and whether he has a good appetite, and try to maintain consistency. If you plan on switching puppy food, it is best to do so over the span of five to seven days. Slowly add in the new food to what he has been eating, every day adding a little bit more of the new food and less of the old. If he stops eating or has any other adverse reaction, such as vomiting or diarrhea, discontinue the new diet, and speak to your veterinarian.  

Dog Crate 

Not only is a crate a useful tool for potty training a puppy, it can also help keep your pet out of trouble if no one is home. Keep in mind, puppies are like toddlers, so you will need to puppy-proof your house. Curious pups will find a way to get into everything they are not supposed to (e.g., trash bins, clothing, electrical cords, medications), and therefore require constant supervision. A crate will give you a break when you’re unable to keep a close eye on your puppy and will provide a safe, secure place for him to rest. 

When it comes to choosing a dog crate, make sure it’s the right size for your puppy. It should be large enough that your puppy can comfortably stand up, stretch, and turn around, but not so large that they have room to designate a sleep and bathroom area. Dogs tend not to pee or poop where they sleep, but if the crate is too big, and they can get away from their mess, they may not understand the concept of not going to the bathroom in the crate.  

Dog Crate Bedding

If you’re using a dog crate, you’ll need to put proper bedding inside to ensure your puppy is comfortable.  The crate has the potential to become your puppy’s “den.” If you create a good experience, he will enjoy the space as his own. However, make sure he is not tearing at or eating the bedding—ingesting foreign material can potentially make your dog sick or cause an obstruction. Look for vet-approved bedding products, such as Vetbed.

Dog Bed 

Consider buying a dog bed or two and placing them in areas of the house where your family congregates. Your newest family member will appreciate having a place to snuggle and rest where everyone else is hanging out. After all, he’s an important part of the pack! 

Collar, ID Tags & Microchip 

dog wearing collar

What new fur baby doesn’t need accessories? A collar is one of the most important accessories to have on hand, but you’ll need to make sure it’s the appropriate size. The collar should fit the dog’s neck, but you should still be able to get two fingers under it, between the collar and his skin, to make sure it’s not too tight. 

You will also need ID tags for your puppy. Again, puppies need complete supervision, but accidents can happen. Having ID tags with your puppy’s name and phone number will help ensure his safe return if he escapes the house or gets away from you.  

Microchipping is also a great idea for all new puppies. In some countries, such as the UK, ID tags and microchips are required by law. A pet microchip is injected under the skin, between the shoulder blades, and contains an identification number. That number is then registered in a global database, so if your dog is ever scanned by a veterinarian, shelter, police, or fire department, he will be identified. Many dogs are microchipped when they are very young, or by a shelter or adoption agency, so be sure to ask if your new puppy is already chipped. If he is not, ask your veterinarian about the best time to do it. 

Leash & Harness

Even if your puppy is still too young to go out in public, you should be prepared and purchase a leash for walks. You shouldn’t walk your dog in general population areas until he is fully vaccinated, so make sure to discuss your puppy’s vaccine schedule with your veterinarian. In the meantime, attach a leash to his collar whenever you carry him outside, just in case he wriggles out of your arms and ends up on the ground. You may want to consider getting a harness, too. That way, the leash won’t be attached to his collar and pulling on his neck while on a walk.

Dog Waste Bags 

dog waste bags

Don’t forget the poop bags! Responsible pet parents pick up after their dogs. Dog feces may contain parasites, which can be passed to other dogs and in some cases people. Remove the feces right away, to decrease the likelihood of environmental contamination. You should always keep baggies handy, either in your pockets or attached to the leash.

Grooming Tools

Grooming is an important aspect of puppy care. Puppy nails grow fast, so it’s good to have dog nail clippers and styptic powder, in case you accidentally nick your dog’s quick. You should also keep a general doggie shampoo on hand, for those times when your new puppy may get into something fun, like a mud puddle or dog poop. Avoid using human shampoos on your dog, as they can dry out his skin. Dog skin has a different pH than ours, so it is best to use a shampoo specially formulated just for them.

Puppy Toys

Toys are a puppy’s best friend. (Aside from you, of course!) It will take some trial and error to find out what kind of toys your puppy will like most. Safe puppy toys include sturdy rubber chew toys and balls that are large enough that your dog won’t swallow them or chew them apart. Be cautious regarding any toys with stuffing or material, such as strings, feathers, or metal pieces. As with your dog’s bedding, the wrong toys can be potentially dangerous if ripped up and ingested.

You should also be careful with chew bones, rawhides, or dental chews. Check the label of the product you are planning on giving your puppy—some may be inappropriate or dangerous for dogs under 6 months or may be too hard for their delicate puppy teeth. Make sure they are the appropriate size for your pup and only give them under supervision. If pieces get too small, take them away to avoid a choking hazard. Otherwise, it is fun to have a variety of different toys available to occupy your puppy’s time.

First Aid Kit

Prior to bringing your new puppy home, you may want to pick up a first aid kit for dogs—especially if you plan on going on a lot of outdoor adventures together! There are pre-made kits available for purchase, or you can make your own. If you go the DIY route, make sure to include essentials like gauze, tape, and bandage material, as well as a disinfectant and antibiotic ointment. 

Pet Medications

To help keep your puppy healthy, ask your veterinarian whether you’ll need to stock up on any monthly medications, such as broad-spectrum parasite control. Fleas, ticks, heartworm, and intestinal parasites can all pose a risk to your puppy’s health. Interceptor® Plus (milbemycin oxime/praziquantel) is an effective option for protection against heartworm disease as well as hookworm, roundworm, whipworm, and tapeworm infections. It can be given to puppies as early as 6 weeks of age and weighing at least 2 pounds. For flea and tick control, Credelio® (lotilaner) is a monthly chewable that can be started in puppies as early as 8 weeks of age and weighing 4.4 pounds or greater. 

See important safety information below for Interceptor® Plus and Credelio®.

So now that you are fully prepared to bring home your new family member, remember to have fun. Enjoy all the little quirks of puppyhood while they last. Before no time, your dog will be all grown up!

Credelio Indications

Credelio kills adult fleas and is indicated for the treatment and prevention of flea infestations, treatment and control of tick infestations (lone star tick, American dog tick, black-legged tick, and brown dog tick) for one month in dogs and puppies 8 weeks and older and 4.4 pounds or greater.

Credelio Important Safety Information

Lotilaner is a member of the isoxazoline class of drugs. This class has been associated with neurologic adverse reactions including tremors, incoordination, and seizures. Seizures have been reported in dogs receiving this class of drugs, even in dogs without a history of seizures. Use with caution in dogs with a history of seizures or neurologic disorders. The safe use of Credelio in breeding, pregnant or lactating dogs has not been evaluated. The most frequently reported adverse reactions are weight loss, elevated blood urea nitrogen, increased urination, and diarrhea. For complete safety information, please see Credelio product label or ask your veterinarian.

Interceptor Plus Indications

Interceptor Plus prevents heartworm disease and treats and controls adult roundworm, hookworm, whipworm, and tapeworm infections in dogs and puppies 6 weeks or older and 2 pounds or greater.

Interceptor Plus Important Safety Information

Treatment with fewer than 6 monthly doses after the last exposure to mosquitoes may not provide complete heartworm prevention. Prior to administration of Interceptor Plus, dogs should be tested for existing heartworm infections. The safety of Interceptor Plus has not been evaluated in dogs used for breeding or in lactating females. The following adverse reactions have been reported in dogs after administration of milbemycin oxime or praziquantel: vomiting, diarrhea, decreased activity, incoordination, weight loss, convulsions, weakness, and salivation. For complete safety information, please see Interceptor Plus product label or ask your veterinarian.

Disclaimer: The author received compensation from Elanco US Inc., the maker of Interceptor Plus and Credelio, for her services in writing this article. 

Credelio and Interceptor are trademarks of Elanco or its affiliates.

© 2020 Elanco or its affiliates. PM-US-20-1224