Puppy Awareness Week 1st – 7th September 2018

The Kennel Club and PupAid are working hard to raise awareness about buying puppies. National Puppy Awareness Week (PAW) from 1st – 7th September 2018 aims to make sure that puppies live healthy, happy lives with suitable owners. The aim is to educate potential puppy owners/buyers, in the hope that they will source a puppy from responsible breeders or from rescue centres and not from puppy farms. Puppies from puppy farms are bred with no regard for their health and well-being and are kept in appalling, unsanitary conditions. If you are buying a puppy (rather than adopting one from a dog shelter) you should make every effort to ensure that you are getting him or her from a responsible breeder regardless of whether it is a pedigree puppy or a cross breed from a registered breeder or a hobby breeder.

Research (*) shows that shockingly

  • One in five people admit that they spent no time researching where to buy their puppy
  • 49% of puppies that are purchased online or from newspaper ads, without being seen first, fall sick and around 1 in 5 of those puppies end up with serious gastrointestinal problems.
  • One in five people who bought a puppy online or from a newspaper advertisement are forced to spend between £500 and £1,000 on vet bills in the first six months of the puppy’s life – this is often more than the original cost of the puppy
  • 37% (over one third) of people who ended up with a sick puppy after buying online or from newspaper adverts experienced financial problems due to the costs of having their puppy treated by a veterinary practice in order to help it get better.
  • 37% of puppies that were bought online or from a newspaper advert without being seen first, were bought as a spur of the moment decision, with almost two thirds being bought solely because of the way they looked.
  • Buying a puppy from a responsible breeder can cost owners 18%  less in unplanned veterinary fees and more importantly, the puppies are less likely to need to visit the vet for an illness in the first few months.

* Source 

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What you don’t see when you buy a puppy without seeing it with it’s mother and siblings.

Pup Aid 2018

This event will be held at Primrose Hill, London, on Saturday 1st September from 10am until 5pm

Each year this very special day gives the dog-loving public, the golden opportunity to help raise awareness about the UK’s cruel puppy farming trade by attending this amazing celebrity judged fun dog show. It will be a fun day out for the whole family and a chance to get to know other dog lovers.

For more information check out the link at the bottom of this article or #PupAid2018 on twitter.

Before You Adopt Or Buy A Puppy Or Dog, Do Your Homework First 

Can you afford to look after a puppy, purchase pet insurance and pay the vets bills? – Research has shown that a dog can cost approximately £12000 or more in its lifetime. It is unfair to expect animal charities to cover your vets bills if you can’t afford to look after a puppy. Some breeds of dog can also be very expensive to insure or are difficult to insure in the first place, so check this out before you decide on a breed.

Do you have enough time to devote to your puppy? – It will need quality time for exercise, training and socialisation every day of it’s life.

Who will look after your puppy when you are on holiday or if you get sick? Kennels and dog sitters are expensive, costing around £12.00 – £25.00 per day.

What breed of dog you are looking for and is it right for your lifestyle? If you lead a fairly sedentary lifestyle then active breeds such as Huskies, Collies, Labradors and Poodles (or their crosses) may not be the right choice for you. If you are getting a crossbreed it is also important to consider the breeds that make up your puppy and think about what that means, for example a collie or spaniel crossed with a poodle (the doodle breeds) can make for a very intelligent and energetic dog that will need loads of exercise and mental stimulation to keep him or her happy. If you have children at home lots of careful research should be done into your breed of choice.

Do you want a pedigree dog with papers or just a certain breed or crossbreed or ‘designer breed’? If you are thinking of buying a ‘designer dog breed’, remember that they often come with a hefty price tag despite being crossbreeds and believe us when we say that there are hundreds of these breeds in rescue centres already (yes, even puppies), so please look there first. The aim of these breeders is often to produce a cute looking dog with no regard for the fact that they may be breeding hereditary problems or bad traits from both parents into the puppies.  Labradoodles for example, are often bought by people because they’ve been told that the breed does not shed fur and so are great for allergy sufferers. Unfortunately there is no way of knowing for sure if the puppy will not shed much fur (like a Poodle), or will shed a great deal of fur  (like a Labrador).

Adopting A Puppy From A Rescue Centre

You may be surprised to hear that there are many pedigree and desirable crossbreed puppies and youngsters that have found their way into rescue centres, so it’s worth checking before you go contact a breeder.  Often puppies and youngsters have been abandoned so the staff may not know any background history but, most of the larger rescue centres do a great job of matching puppies to owners and often perform behavioural assessments on puppies, so don’t be put off by the lack of history here.

Always see mum with puppies

What To Look Out For When Buying Or Adopting A Puppy  

(Even if you are buying a crossbreed puppy you still need to do your research

  • Try to visit several breeders so that you can pick the best puppy for you.
  • Remember that just because a breeder is licenced, registered or accredited it does NOT always mean that they are a good breeder, so use your own judgement when visiting and if things don’t feel right, walk away..
  • Ask around to find out how much you should be paying for a puppy of the breed you want. As a general rule you get what you pay for so if that price tag seems too good to be true it probably is! Expect to pay more for a puppy, whose parents have had and passed all the relevant tests for their breed. At least you will know that your puppy is less at risk of certain breed related problems and hereditary illnesses.
  • Always visit the breeder’s home to meet the litter.
  • Always see the mother interacting with her litter (feeding and playing with them) – don’t accept excuses for her not being there with the puppies when you visit.
  • Ask to handle the puppies if they are over 4 weeks old (wash your hands first)
  • Check that the puppies and mother are looking healthy, lively and happy
  • Handle the mother so you can get an idea of her temperament  and a good idea of how big the puppy will grow. It is not always possible, but if you get the opportunity you should meet the father too.
  • Ask about how the puppies will be socialised and what experiences they will have had before they come home to you (will they have seen lots of people and animals, travelled in a car, experienced household noises such as the washing machine and vacuum cleaner).
  • Ask about the type of food the puppies will be weaned on and where you can get it from.
  • Ask whether the parents have been routinely vaccinated, flea treated and wormed. A puppy with unvaccinated parents or a heavy parasite burden is much more likely to be susceptible to illness.
  • Ask about any genetic/hereditary problems in the breed and what tests have been done to ensure that the parents don’t have these. A good breeder will have no problems discussing these issues with you and will have had the appropriate tests done on the parents. Ask to see proof of these tests and their results.

It is up to you to research your chosen breed or crossbreed carefully before you buy, so you should have a good idea about what health tests should have been carried out on the parents. For more information visit the Kennel Club Breed Information Centre and type in your chosen breed, once you are on the breed page click on Health Information on the left side of the page and this will list health problems associated with the breed.

  • Ask about the contract of sale when you buy a puppy and whether the breeder will be willing to pay for veterinary treatment or even take the puppy back if you discover any health problems after purchase. (This should apply regardless of whether you are paying £50 or £1000 for your puppy)
  • For a pedigree puppy, you will need to obtain a pedigree certificate when you take your new pet home with you. If a puppy does not come with kennel club papers you should not be paying top price for it.
  • Is the puppy microchipped and how will their details be transferred to your name. It is law in the UK that ALL puppies are microchipped by the time they are 8 weeks old and before they go to a new home. This applies to anyone who breeds dogs, regardless of whether the litter was planned or not.
  • Is the puppy already insured and how will you transfer the ownership details?
  • The Right Puppy Is Always Worth Waiting For! Don’t be tempted to give in to pressure from the breeder (or your family!) and rush into making a purchase right that second. Before you say yes and part with your money, leave and give yourself time to really think things through (preferably over 24 hours). If the breeder/seller is giving you lines and telling you they’ve had loads of people interested and you will miss out, don’t fall for it! A good and responsible breeder will do their very best to match their puppies to the right owners, so you asking for thinking time will likely make a very good impression.
  • Don’t become overwhelmed by the cuteness of the puppies in the first litter you visit! If things don’t feel 100% right to you walk away.
  • Never buy out of sympathy for the pups or the conditions they are being kept in. Your purchase will just make a space for the next puppy and continue to fund this process.

You should expect to be asked lots of questions about your home and lifestyle from the puppy breeder. This shows that they care about where the puppy are going and how you will look after it.

A good breeder will also ask you to spend time with adult dogs of the same breed and chat to other owners so that you know exactly what you are letting yourself in for! This is particularly important if you have chosen one of the less common breeds.

See mum interacting with her pups

Puppies should be microchipped

All puppies must now be microchipped and registered on an approved database by the time they go to their new homes. Ensure that the breeder/rescue centre gives you all of the relevant paperwork when you collect your puppy, so that you can transfer the ownership.

Avoid falling into the ‘puppy farm’ trap

  • Remember that no responsible, caring breeder (whether of pedigrees or crossbreeds) would ever sell their puppies through a third party such as a pet shop.
  • Never buy from any breeder that has more than two bitches with puppies at any one time. With this many animals they cannot possibly cater to every puppy’s individual requirements, socialisation and habituation needs.
  • Always buy puppies that have been raised in a household environment rather than a shed or barn. Outdoor puppies will not have been used to much human contact or common household noises and events, which can make them fearful and nervous and can lead to behavioural problems.
  • Always see the mother interacting with the puppies – No Excuses!
  • Never accept excuses about the mother being out for a walk or sick – if you don’t see the mother how do you know that she has a good temperament?
  • Never let the breeder bring the puppy to you – if they offer this how will you know anything about the environment they have grown up in or the temperament of the parents?
  • Never buy puppies from pet shops or garden centres – these puppies are usually from puppy farms and you will have no idea about their history, temperament or if their parents suffered from any genetic disease or conditions. They will also have been placed in a very stressful environment during their sensitive socialisation period, which is not the best start in life.
  • Never be afraid or embarrassed to walk away if you suspect things aren’t quite right with the litter or circumstances. It is better to leave (and if necessary report the breeder to the RSPCA) than to buy the puppy.
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Avoid buying from pet shops or garden centres

IF YOU VISIT PUPPIES AND YOU SUSPECT THAT IT IS A PUPPY FARM, PLEASE DO NOT BUY A PUPPY OUT OF SYMPATHY. ANY PURCHASE WILL ONLY ENCOURAGE THESE PEOPLE TO CARRY ON BREEDING. YOU SHOULD CONTACT THE RSPCA IF YOU FEEL THAT THE ADULT DOGS OR PUPPIES ARE BEING NEGLECTED AT ALL. 

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Click this image to visit the kennel club PAW site

At Castle Vets in Reading we offer free clinics so that you can get the best advice from one of our veterinary nurses on where to look for a puppy, what breeds might be suitable for you and what costs may be involved in keeping a puppy. We are also happy to discuss this over the phone. Please contact us for an appointment or if you would like advice on any aspect of pet care.

Further Information

Thinking Of Getting A New Pet – Our guide to what you need to think about first

How to look for your new pet – our guide to how to find the right pet and what you should look out for

Puppy Awareness Week – Kennel Club Information Page

PupAid – Pupaid events 2018