Owning a Dog is a Privilege
The love that owners have for their dogs is evident everyday in veterinary medicine. The lengths that dog owners go to ensuring their dogs quality of life is maintained is often extraordinary. Most of us can agree that the payoff is also often extraordinary. There is no more faithful companion than a dog. Josh Billings once said, "A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself." And he couldn't be more right! If you recognize that owning a dog is a privilege and as with any privilege, also comes responsibility to properly take care of the dog.
Before You Get a Dog, Think!
Before you make the decision to get a dog, you should really think about the commitment it takes to responsibly own a dog. Owning a dog is a long term commitment and you should really consider whether you are willing and able to make the commitment to take care of a dog, both physically and financially. Do not make a hasty decision when it comes to adopting or purchasing a dog. The success of the union between you and your dog is dependent on you. If you decide you are ready to make the commitment to dog, be sure to pick a dog who matches your lifestyle. For instance, if you live in a small apartment, perhaps a large dog with high energy may not be a good fit for you.
Keeping Your Dog Healthy
There are many aspects beyond simply vaccinating to keeping your dog healthy. While annual physical examinations and vaccinations by a veterinarian are essential, other healthy routines should also be established. For instance, dogs should be spayed or neutered and stay on regular heartworm, flea, tick, and intestinal parasite prevention. Especially here in the south, it is recommended year round and not just in the winter. Your dog also needs fresh water and a good diet that is appropriate for their breed, age, and activity level. It is up to a dog owner to ensure their pet maintains an optimal weight to help stay healthy.
Keeping Your Dog Safe
In addition to keeping your dog healthy, it is also the owner's responsibility to keep their dog safe. Keeping a dog safe means more than just providing a permanent shelter for the dog to live out of the elements of heat and cold, but also, making sure your pet has identification, and making sure your pet travels safely.
There are several ways to identify your pet in case they are accidentally lost. At the very least your dog should have a tag attached to its collar with your name and phone number. An even better and more permanent form of identification is microchipping. When a microchip is implanted, it gives veterinarians and shelters the ability to scan the microchip with a reader and contact the owner so they can be reunited.
Making sure your pet is secure in your car is just as important as us humans wearing seatbelts. This is not only for their safety but also yours. Your dog should be secured with a harness or special dog seatbelt or inside of a secured crate. Also, never leave your pet in your vehicle unattended, especially during times of warmer temperatures. Dogs can succumb to heat related illness very quickly.
Make Your Pet Part of the Family
To most dog owners, their dog is not just a pet. Instead, they are treated as another member of the family. Spending time with your pet is important--pet them, play with them, and show them you love them just as much as they love you. And just as children are taught rules and boundaries, dogs must also be trained to respect rules and boundaries. In addition to teaching your dog basic commands like "come" and "sit", dogs should also be socialized by taking them to interact with other dogs and people so they are comfortable in any setting.