The first steps to finding your new best friend

The first steps to finding your new best friend

Even before you go to visit your new companion your investigation work begins, you need to ensure the puppy or kitten you’re about to buy is happy and healthy! You can’t be too nosey, ring and ask questions!

Did the breeder breed the puppies or kittens – it isn’t a good idea to buy from anyone other than the breeder. Who was the father (sire) and would he be present to visit? If not, find out if you can contact his owner; ask plenty of questions about his temperament, health and other litters.

If you’re happy with the breeders and their answers, you need to visit. Always make sure you see mum with her offspring together, it’s often best to arrange a viewing when there’s more than one puppy / kitten to see. Do the puppies or kittens interact well together?  Look for signs of illness such as runny eyes, sneezes or diarrhoea on their tails, also make sure mum is healthy and watch them all in their environment before making your choice.

There are lots of important pieces of information to find out about you new little one. Ask about its environment and routine, what does it eat and how often – ask to see a sample or a bag of food, can you buy this yourself or take some home? Where is the puppy or kitten kept, has it interacted with lots of people, has it been exposed to noises such as television, vacuum cleaners or children? A puppy, which has been in a quiet environment, may have to be carefully introduced to new experiences to make sure it doesn’t grow up afraid!i

Find out about its medical history, have the puppies had their vaccinations, are they micro chipped? Has the litter been wormed? It’s worth doing a spot of research about your chosen breed also! Are there any problem diseases they are susceptible to, for example, British Short Haired cats can inherit certain heart deformities and Labrador Retrievers, unfortunately, can pass on genes for poor hip and elbow structure. Different breeds have different screening tests to make sure the chance of passing inherited diseases is low, ask to see certificates of screening for problem diseases, vaccinations, and micro chipping.

When you are ready to choose an individual pet, don’t be rushed, spend plenty of time with the litter and watch the puppies or kittens grow – hopefully one of them will become your responsibility and will enrich your life for many years to come.

By Dr Amy Watkins BSc BVetMed MRCV