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First-time dog parents: What you should know

November 27, 2020

Congratulations on making the life-changing decision to welcome a pup to your home. Being a dog parent is incredibly exciting and rewarding, but it is also a big commitment that comes with challenges. If you’re a first-time dog owner, we’ve put together a guide for your new furry family member’s needs, as well as pointers to keep them healthy and happy!

The basics

  • Food: Like us, our doggos require a well-balanced diet consisting of water, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins. There are many types of commercial dog food to choose from, depending on your budget and preference. Dry kibble is usually the most economical while canned food contains higher moisture content. You may also have seen other types of dog food at the store, including freeze-dried, raw, or fresh dog food. These may be more nutritious, but the downside is that they tend to be more expensive.
  • Potty training: If your new friend is a puppy, then you may need to potty train them! You’ll need patience, patience, and more patience. It may be distressing when an untrained pup has an accident inside the house but refrain from yelling or punishing them. Rather, use positive reinforcements to let them know they’re a good boi when they go potty outside.
  • Exercise: An active dog is a happy dog. Your furry one needs exercise to stay healthy and happy, so make sure to take them out for daily walks. How much exercise a dog needs depends on their age, breed, and health condition.

Going to the vet

  • Vaccination: Vaccines help protect our furry friends from potentially deadly viruses. In Hong Kong, dogs are required by law to be vaccinated against rabies before they turn 5 months old. There are also other vaccines considered necessary, and they are usually given to your pet before they are 16 weeks old. Discuss with your vet which vaccines your pup needs and when to administer them.
  • Microchip: All dogs kept as pets in Hong Kong are required to have a microchip, a tiny electronic chip that is inserted just under the skin. It contains a unique ID number that vets and shelters can look up to find a pet owner’s details if a furry friend ever gets lost. Your vet can easily perform this procedure when you bring your pet in for vaccination or a check-up.
  • Flea/tick/heartworm: Heartworm prevention is essential, which can be a monthly pill, topical drops, or annual injection. Fleas and ticks can also cause health problems for dogs. Ask your vet to recommend a good prevention product if you’re not sure.
  • Have a 24/7 vet: When something unexpected happens to us, we know we can go to the hospital’s emergency room. Be prepared by having the info of one or two vet clinics that offer 24-hour emergency service, so your pet can get immediate medical attention if an accident or serious illness strikes.
  • Pet insurance: Seeing the vet in Hong Kong is expensive, and expenses can quickly add up. Many dog parents turn to pet insurance to help them manage their furry friends’ vet bills. What pet insurance options are there and how do you know if a plan is right for your pet? Read about it here and here.


Unlike cats, dogs are pack animals by nature, which means they need to be around other animals to be happy. Also, our four-legged friends need their daily walks and inevitably they will come across other dogs. Therefore, it’s important to teach your pet to be comfortable in different environments and how to interact with other animals. A well-socialized dog is less likely to act aggressively or unpredictably out of fear, keeping them and others around them safe. However, what to do when you encounter a fight? Read this!

dog insurance

Dog-proof your home

Just as you would baby-proof your home, it’s also wise to take some simple precautions to keep your furry friend (and your belongings!) safe. Some tips to start:

  • Put small items away. When you’re not home and your doggie is bored, they may start playing and chewing on whatever is lying around. If it’s small, they may accidentally choke on or swallow it, causing serious stomach discomfort. The procedure to remove a swallowed object can cost you upwards of HKD 14,000.
  • Tie up cords and cables. Keep them tucked away so your dog isn’t tempted to chew on them.
  • Toxic plants. Some common houseplants can actually make our pets very sick. Read this to find out whether foliage in your home are also safe for your dog.
  • Medicine, cleaning products. These should also be kept in cabinets and drawers where your curious pup can’t get to.

Check out our blog for more useful tips and advice on pet care. If you’re considering insurance for your new friend, have a look at our Dog Insurance page. Pawfect Care covers up to 90% of your pup’s vet bills, up to HKD 80,000 a year.

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