How to choose a rescue dog: Pete the Vet podcast on Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show

To listen to this podcast, click on the play button at the foot of this page.

Getting a rescue dog as a pet

If anyone is considering getting a new dog, there’s a lot to be said for choosing one from a rescue centre


  • You are rescuing a dog – instant karma boost
  • You save a lot of money – pedigree dog costs €300 to €800, rescue dog you pay a donation €100-150
  • Also if you buy a pedigree dog, you then need to pay for vaccines, wormers, spay/neuter, microchip – this could set you back up to €300 but these things have often already been done for rescues
  • If the rescue is cross bred, it is likely to be healthier than a pedigree dog (eg pet insurance premiums are significantly cheaper for cross breeds)
  • You are more likely to get a well matched dog to your circumstances – rescues have a strong interest in ensuring that their dog is successfully placed in an appropriate long term home


  • You cannot meet the parents of a rescue dog so there is less predictability about how a pup will work out
  • You may not get the status symbol pedigree pooch you have been lusting after

Issues that need to be checked when getting a rescue dog

When you get a rescue dog, there are some key issues that you need to check. Most good rescues will tick all these boxes but double check to be sure

  • Microchips
    In Ireland, there are strict laws around microchipping of dogs. All dogs must be microchipped and registered to their owners, and it is illegal for a dog – of any age – to change hands unless it has been microchipped. This does not only apply to pedigree dogs; it applies to all dogs, of all types, both those in private ownership and those from rescue centres. If you intend to keep a puppy yourself, you don’t need to get it microchipped till it’s 12 weeks of age. But if you sell or rehome a puppy at any age, you need to make sure that it’s microchipped first. So it is really important that if you get a puppy or an adult dog from a rescue, it should be microchipped already. If it isn’t, then both you and the rescue centre are breaking the law.
  • Vaccinations.
    The pup or dog should be fully vaccinated, and you should have a certificate to this effect, signed by a vet. While some breeders and rescue centre staff do administer vaccines, there is not the same guarantee that the vaccine has been stored correctly (in the fridge) and administered properly. If a vet has not given the vaccines, to be safe an extra vaccination may have to be given by a vet, which will be an extra cost for you.
  • Worming
    It’s critically important that all puppies and dogs are wormed regularly: they can carry a worm burden that can make them very ill, and there’s also a risk of worms being passed on to humans. For this reason, whenever a puppy is rehomed, it’s useful for the new owner to be told how many worm doses have already been given. In the absence of any information, it’s safest to give a full worming course again, and this carries costs for you.
  • Flea control
    When many dogs are living close together, as in rescue centers, parasites like fleas can be common. It’s important that the rescue centre tells you what they have (or have not) done to treat your new pet for fleas.
  • Nutrition
    The rescue centre should tell you specifically what the pup or dog has been fed on, and preferably they should give you a sample of the food to take away with you. You can then choose to continue with the same diet or you can change gradually to a new one. If you are not given a sample of food, the sudden change to a new diet could cause a gastrointestinal upset to your pet.
  • Behaviour
    Behavioral problems are common, and so the rescue centre should let you know if your new pet has any issues at all on this front. A summary of the dog’s personality is the best way: they should know the dog well enough to be able to fill you in on this, preferably in writing. Many centers (eg Dogs Trust, DSPCA) will also offer you training classes or other behavioural assistance if needed.

    Questions from listeners about pets

  • I have a Siberian Husky cross who growls when he is on a leash and children are close by. What should I do?
  • Just got a new golden retriever puppy and I’m nervous about bringing him out in the sun. With the warm weather forecast this weekend should I keep him inside or is it okay to bring him out? Kirsty
  • I have a jackdaw in the garden with a broken wing. There is food and water for it everyday. It climbs up its tree by hopping up the branches . Will it be ok?
  • Why are there so many dead hedgehogs on the roads just now?

To listen to the podcast click on the play button below.

Facebook Live Session

After the radio show, Pete usually answers questions directly to listeners via a Facebook Live session: to watch this, see here.

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