You Can't Forget Veterinary Costs

Shelley Wenger

When considering whether or not you are ready to bring a puppy into your life.
Photo byShelley Wenger at Canva

I recently wrote an article with tips to help you get ready to bring a puppy into your home (and life). If you haven’t had a chance to read it, you can check it out here

In it, I talked about puppy proofing, getting the right dog and supplies, and choosing a veterinarian wisely. However, as it was pointed out…

"Um … you forgot the most important part."

A reader wisely reminded me that I need to educate new puppy owners about their medical needs. 

Here are some things that you need to know medically before you purchase a new puppy. 

Puppies need regular vaccines in order to become fully vaccinated. There is a window between when your puppy gets his or her immunity from mom and when he or she starts working on their own immunity. Because of this, young puppies need vaccines every three or four weeks until they are at least sixteen weeks of age, starting around six or seven weeks old. 

If you don’t start the vaccines early, your puppy will still need boosters of most of the vaccines, including the Distemper combination, Leptospirosis, and Lyme. So, even if you wait until your puppy is over sixteen weeks, he or she will still need to come back to the veterinarian for boosters. 

Your new puppy will also need to be dewormed. Most puppies have intestinal parasites that can be harmful to them, as well as humans. Though wormy puppies and kittens usually look skinny with a big “worm” belly, they don’t have to. You should worm your puppy no matter what he or she looks like, body condition-wise. Most veterinarians recommend worming new puppies at least twice (if not three times) to make sure that they are parasite free! 

 Not worried about your new puppy and worms? There are some worms that can be harmful to you and your family members! Though this generally happens with young children, it can also affect adults. 

Preventative medication can also become quite expensive, though it is necessary. Most dogs should be on heartworm prevention every month to make sure that they don’t develop this fatal disease that is passed by mosquitoes. Even if you don’t live in an area that has a lot of heartworm disease, the amount of dogs that are moved up from down south seem to be bringing this disease with them! 

Flea and tick medications are also essential. Not only are fleas and ticks bad for your puppy, they can also transmit disease between animals. Fleas can lead to tapeworms (intestinal parasites) and can cause anemia, as well as hair loss and itchiness. Ticks can carry Lyme, Ehrlichia, and other diseases. 

There are often some promotions when you buy multiple doses, such as six months or even a year at a time. When you have a puppy that may not be doable. As he or she grows, you are going to have to keep an eye on his or her weight in order to make sure that you dose your puppy properly. 

One of the most expensive parts of owning a dog can be when it comes time to spay or neuter them. It can cost several hundred dollars to get your puppy fixed. 

However, it may cost you even more if you don’t. Unspayed female dogs can get a disease where their uterus gets infected. The only way to fix it is by spaying them, only they are sick at that point, and it is even more expensive! Unfixed males are more likely to get hit by a car because they often roam around looking for a female in heat. Injuries from car accidents can be simple, though they can lead to death. 

This leads me to the last point about veterinary care. Puppies (and adult dogs) can get into trouble, which can lead to some expensive veterinary care. Most happen on evenings and weekends when your regular veterinarian isn’t open, meaning that you have to go to an emergency clinic for care. 

Your puppy may get into something he or she shouldn’t, and while you may have to deal with some vomiting and diarrhea, these can also lead to exploratory surgeries when something gets stuck. Broken bones can happen. If you are lucky, you are looking at a split, though the costs can really increase because it will have to be checked regularly. 

That being said, getting a puppy may be the best thing for your family. However, you should not go into it blindly. You are going to want to have some money saved up for his or her care, especially for the first year, though any emergency could cost you a few hundred (or thousand) dollars. 

You may want to look into pet insurance to help you with your puppy’s medical bills. While some plans just cover emergencies, there are plenty of plans that will cover routine visits, including vaccines and even flea and tick prevention. 


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Shelley is a small town farm mom of two boys. She is a veterinary technician, so she is proud to write about all kinds of animals and their care. She also loves to write about writing, running a business, working from home, and much more.

Glenville, PA

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