Puppy, canine, pooch, doggy, Fido, Lassy – it doesn’t matter what you call your dog. In essence, she is a best friend, a faithful companion and a deserving pet, which is why owning a dog is a responsibility, as well as a privilege. As September is Responsible Dog Ownership Month, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the fundamentals of capable and caring ownership.
When Responsibility Starts
Your responsibility as a dog owner begins even before you’ve purchased or adopted your pet. Before deciding to obtain a dog, consider your motivation for doing so. Do you feel pressured to provide a pet for your children? Do you want companionship and the opportunity to nurture a new furry friend? Are you seeking a dog to guard your house or perform other duties? Regardless of your answer, let it guide your decision of whether to get a dog and what breed to choose. If you possess no desire to build a relationship with and diligently tend to a pet, you should abstain rather than taking ownership for the wellbeing of an animal you can’t or won’t love.
You also must determine if you have the appropriate time to care for an animal and finances to indefinitely purchase food, hygiene products, trips to the veterinary clinic and other necessities. Making a lifelong commitment to a pet must be established on the understanding your dog is not a toy to be played with only when you’re in the mood. It is irresponsible to use a pet to meet your needs without faithfully meeting her needs, as well.
Responsible Dog Owner Tips
If you are getting started as a pet owner, you may be wondering what those needs are and how to best fulfill them. Here are some tips to guide your journey as a first-time dog owner, or to refresh the memories of seasoned owners.
Welcome to the Family
Dogs are pack animals and they thrive off companionship. Incorporate your dog into evening outings or family vacations, when possible. Give her treats, attention and affection, as well as an established routine that mirrors yours or your children’s.
Pet Proof Your House
You may not be aware of the potential hazards your house contains. Some items – from cleaning supplies and insecticides to certain garden plants and grapes – are toxic if consumed. Move these items out of reach or block off access to them. Additionally, put breakable items in unreachable locations and keep electrical cords inaccessible from prying paws.
ID Tag and Microchip
In case your dog gets lost, make sure she always wears an identification bag containing your name and contact information so you can be reunited. Permanent forms of identification include microchips, DNA profiles and tattoos.
All dogs require regular exercise for their health and well-being. The form of exercise can fit your and your dog’s preferences. Some ideas include walks or runs, playing catch with a ball or stick and gallivanting outdoors in an open area. You also may want to teach your dog to swim, for exercise as well as a safety measure.
Not all dogs do well with the same type or amount of food. Based on your dog’s size, age and activity level, she may require certain foods, along with a constant supply of fresh, clean water. Talk to your veterinarian about what type of food and feeding schedule is appropriate for your dog, and then stick to it.
Most importantly, you should find a veterinarian and supply them with your dog’s health records. Schedule appointments to get your dog spayed or neutered and caught up on vaccinations, if necessary. Take your dog for regular checkups and, of course, as soon as she exhibits any symptoms of pain or illness.
Sunset Veterinary Clinic, in Edmond, offers a variety of services, including wellness exams, vaccinations, diagnosing and treating diseases, microchipping, an in-house pharmacy and more. Additionally, the clinic’s staff is trained in animal emergency medicine and veterinarian surgeons can perform bladder stone removal, mass removals and laceration repairs, among other operations. Contact us today to set up an appointment!