Carter’s First Visit to the Vet – It was a Real Snooze!

Last Friday we took Carter to his ‘healthy-puppy’ check-up.  This was our first visit to the vet, and Carter did great. He slept through most of the appointment and examination. His litter-mate and brother Bauer, slept through his appointment as well. Maybe it’s a family thing!

Carter having a nap at the Vet's.
Carter having a nap at the Vet’s.

At the end of our visit, Carter was declared a healthy and normal puppy.  He also gained 1.8 pounds in one week! Oh boy.

If you’re off to see the vet for the first time, here are some tips for your visit and signs that you have chosen a good vet!

1. How to choose a vet

I asked a bunch of friends for vet recommendations in our neighbourhood. I then went online and researched reviews to help make my final decision.

If there were too many negative reviews, or comments about the vet being pricey, then that clinic was an obvious no.

I also read doctors’ and staff bios, how long they have been in operation in the neighbourhood, and looked at their philosophy or approach to care and treatment. For example a website of one of the clinics I reviewed, stated that their approach is to neuter male pups at 6 months.  I don’t want to get into a debate about the pros and cons of what age to neuter, but when a clinic makes such a statement, it makes me wonder whether this vet is open to discussions, or is flexible enough to assess each dog (i.e. breed), case by case rather than making such a blanket statement.

2. First impressions count!

From making the first call to book an appointment, to when we arrived, we were greeted by friendly staff.  The clinic we chose was very clean and tidy too. It also didn’t hurt that staff gushed over Carter!

When it was time for our appointment, the doctor was kind and patient with us and with Carter who kept licking her stethascope. She answered all of our questions (see below), and we didn’t feel like we were rushed out the door.

3. Bring your list of questions

We had a lot of questions, from food quantity and supplements, to chewing and biting. These were just some of our questions:

  • Is it ok that he eats his food in record-time?  Yes, most puppies do.
  • He has the hiccups a lot. Again, normal for puppies.
  • He once ate his own poo! Gross. Also normal, but don’t encourage it.

4. Bring your pup’s paper-work and vaccination record

I brought Carter’s paperwork but forgot his vaccination record. No biggie since he was not due for his second round of ‘shots’ at this visit. Luckily, the paperwork I did bring had his microchip number, and when the technician used a wand-like device to scan him, she was able to verify his number. Who knew about microchips and scanner-thingy-wands until you own a dog!?

5. Foster a good and open relationship 

Communication is a two-way street. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. Hopefully your vet will welcome this. As already noted, our first impression of our vet and her philosophy was positive. She wasn’t pushy, she provided lots of good information about what to expect now and down the road, and was supportive of us as new puppy parents.

Carter at the spa, I mean during his examination. Snooze.
Carter at the spa, I mean during his examination. Snooze.

Having said that, some friends have switched vets over the years. It’s ok to do so if the need arises. They tell me it’s easier to break up with your vet than with your hairstylist! Good to know.

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How Much is that Doggy in the Window?

A classmate suggested that I write about the cost of owning a dog so that interested future dog owners can plan and perhaps budget for it.

I’d like to say that my family crunched numbers before we made the decision to get a dog, but we didn’t. We went into this with eyes-wide-shut!

I surveyed some of my dog-owner friends and asked about their monthly dog-related costs. The responses were hilarious and the costs, luckily, were not too scary. What I also discovered is that there isn’t a set, one-size fits all, monthly or yearly cost for a dog. There are many factors that come into play. The following is a generalization and quick run-down of numbers based on my friends’ personal doggy-spending habits:

Cost of Dog

This is a one-time (unless you decide on more than one dog) and obvious cost.  The cost will depend greatly on the size and age of your dog, and whether it’s a pure breed, a mix, or a rescue dog. Pure breeds tend to be the most expensive and can range from $1000-$2000 for a puppy. Adopting a rescue dog costs considerably less: $210 for a male and $240 for a female dog through the City of Toronto’s Animal Services. A smaller mixed puppy can cost around $800-900.

Photo by ANTPKR, freedigitalphotos.net
Photo by ANTPKR, freedigitalphotos.net

Food & Treats

Again, the cost of food and treats depend on the size and age of your dog, and the quality of food you choose for your dog. A German Shepard, like my pal Maverick eats about $150 worth of food a month. My medium-sized dog pals Jake and Martha, eat about  $70-$80 a month worth of food.

Vet visits

Again your vet costs will depend upon the health of your dog, and hopefully they don’t get sick.  A “healthy” vet visit will cost about $100. When you first get a pup you’ll have to visit the vet a few times for immunizations, but generally you don’t see your vet more than once or twice a year.

Embed from Getty Images

Grooming and Spa Visits

If your dog needs grooming, it can cost about $70-100 a month to send your special furry friend to the doggy spa.  Some people buy nail clippers and brushes and try to do it themselves.  But some dogs need a professional’s touch and maybe even pampering!  Some dogs have hair rather than fur, so they do require haircuts.

Doggy Hair Salon for me please! (Photo by SOMMAI, freedigitalphotos.net)
Doggy Hair Salon for me please! (Photo by SOMMAI, freedigitalphotos.net)

Other monthly costs can include…

Doggy sitting – $30-50/day for family vacations that don’t include fido.

Toys & Chew Sticks/Bones – about $25-30 month.  It can be hard to resist a cute new toy when shopping for their dog food!

Yummy! (Photo by SOMMAI, freedigitalphotos.net)
Yummy! (Photo by ANTPKR, freedigitalphotos.net)

As you can see the costs can add up. But is it worth it? My friends gave a resounding and unequivocal YES.  This is how my (hilarious!) friend described Maverick, her adopted German Shepard, “he’s a like a Ferrari – good-looking on the outside, but requires a lot of maintenance.” He is an expensive dog, but he’s lucky that “he is the “George Clooney” of German Shepherds!” Bow-wow to that!Embed from Getty Images

Another friend also said that her little Jake “gets only the best! We skimp on the children.” I have actually heard that more than once about dogs vs kids! Hum, I wonder what will happen when Carter overtakes, I mean, becomes part of our family?

The list of these expenses don’t take into account the ‘start-up’ costs associated with owing a dog. My family got a little carried away when we made those purchases. More on that in my next post.