The day is approaching, and you CAN’T WAIT to meet your new best friend! You’ve been dreaming of this day and pinning ideas for adventures, ridiculously cute outfits and checklists. You’ve been scoping out the best dog toys and watching all the funny dog Tik Tok videos… but how do you know that you’re ready to provide the care that your furry friend needs and deserves?
Well, much like tiny humans, dogs can be expensive. Though, I’m sure we all agree that regardless of the cost, the love, affection, and companionship you receive in return make it all WORTH it. However, you should still be aware of all the “costs” (financial and otherwise) that come with pet ownership as well as all the “need to know” info. before beginning your adventure with your fur-ever friend.
Whether you are rescuing your dog from a shelter, adopting or purchasing your dog from a breeder, here are some other factors to consider before getting a dog:
Did you know that you can purchase pet insurance? You can now! It’s a good thing too because pet insurance can actually help make taking care of your pet more affordable. Veterinarian visits (especially for unexpected emergencies) can really add up! Some vet clinics even offer wellness programs tailored to your dog. There are many options online but be sure to check locally for what is accepted at your preferred pet service providers.
Pet licensing laws vary by state so be sure to check with your local government office to see what is required in your area. Locating your dog has gotten very sophisticated with microchipping and some of the newer dog collars on the market. And the one major benefit to licensing your pet is that it can help bring your dog home to you if he gets lost. If easily locating your dog is a priority to you because of your location, you may want to consider the wide variety of options, including an advanced dog collar that helps you to locate your pet.
I hesitate to categorize the following as “basics” because they are so important to the overall health of your dog. As a pet owner, please don’t overlook the importance of the following in caring for your furry friend.
• Heart-worm Disease Prevention – We know that having a dog can be good for our hearts, but it’s especially important for us to take care of theirs. This is an area where you need to be proactive. Heart-worms are caused by mosquitoes – so it’s difficult to manage unless you take preventative measures. Heart-worms can be fatal to dogs, so be sure to talk to your Vet for the best plan of action for Heart-worm Prevention for Dogs and plan to treat your dog regularly according to their advice.
• Flea and Tick Prevention – Besides being pesky and making your dog uncomfortable, fleas and ticks can introduce both your pet and your family to a whole slew of weird diseases. That makes my skin crawl to think about. But, similar to heart-worms, prevention is the best medicine.
• Spaying and Neutering – Decide if you will Spay or Neuter your pet. This procedure not only helps to manage the pet population since so many animals already need good homes, but it also helps your pet to live a long and healthy life.
• Dental Care – A big part of keeping your dog healthy is dental health. You can’t use hooman toothpaste on a dog, but you can brush your dog’s teeth at home with a toothpaste formulated for dogs. You can also purchase doggie dental “treats.” These are a great option to help provide what they need in a fun format. You’ll also want to consider having a regular dental checkup and cleaning at the vet as a part of their annual dental care routine.
• Grooming – Last but certainly not least regarding the basics – Grooming is a large part of caring for your pets and keeping them healthy. The specific needs, time and effort required will vary greatly by breed. Be sure to brush up on all the Dog Grooming Tips now to prepare yourself.
If you’ve never owned a dog before you may be surprised to know that some foods (like chocolate, raisins and avocado can be very dangerous for dogs. If you have kids, dogs can be great crumb catchers helping you to keep your floors clean, but you will want to be sure to brush up on the foods that are toxic to dogs. This list includes some foods that may surprise you! Additionally, there are some general lawn and garden supplies, and everyday household items that can be poisonous and pose a danger to your dog as well.
Prospective owners should get familiar with Pet Poison Control dangers and protocol. You can add the Poison Control hotline to your contacts. That number is: 1-888-426-4435. In case of an emergency, it’s great to have that quickly accessible. They charge a small fee and are available to help 24 hours a day. They can coach you through how to handle emergencies.
Before you bring your dog home, you will want to make sure you have all the supplies necessary
to make them feel like a part of the family!
• Dog Food – Good dog food is first on the list because it is key in providing your dog with the proper nutrition. It will give him energy, keep his coat looking shiny and smooth and keep his eyes bright and clear! We’ve put together some ideas on how to find the perfect dog food for your dog to help you feel confident that you have made the best selection for your newest family member!
You will also need the following ESSENTIALS:
• Collar & ID
• Dog bed or blanket
• Treats (treats help with training!)
• Car or travel supplies
• Toys (to keep your pup entertained aka – not chewing your shoes)
Of course, there is also a large time investment with bringing a new dog home. Especially if you bring home a puppy! Puppies require a great deal of time and attention. You will feel as though you have a toddler in the house. Especially when it comes to potty training. Training of any sort takes a lot of time and patience and requires constant reinforcement.
Dogs need regular exercise and physical activity to stay in their prime and prevent Cardiovascular Disease. The amount of physical activity needed will depend on the size and breed of your dog, but it’s wise to take your dog outside twice a day each day to help him stay active and healthy. There’s a bonus in that for you too in that you’ll benefit from the physical activity as well. Movement is a good choice for everyone!
Some breeds of dogs require more space than others. Be sure to consider if your space is appropriate for the size dog you want. You want to make sure that you have the space to give your best little buddy enough room to stretch his paws.
Does your lifestyle support pet ownership? Here are some questions you can ask as you evaluate
your readiness on the home front:
● If you’re typically away all day and on the go in the evenings, are you willing to adjust to care for your dog?
● If you work from an office, how will you care for him while you are away from home?
● When you travel, can he go with you or how will you care for him? Do you need to get a Pet
Sitter, enroll him in Doggy Day Care or board him?
If you dream of dog park dates and other pet friendly adventures, it’s going to take some intentional effort within the first few months of his life to socialize your dog. If you happen to adopt an older dog, you CAN still teach an old dog new tricks. You’ll just need a little more patience and commitment to ease into it!
Dog Socialization = exposing your dog to new situations, people, sounds, and of course other dogs to teach him the social skills to be ready for the world outside of your home. It’s the epitome of being a parent, well… a dog parent anyways. The process of socialization requires that you expose your dog to a variety of different things they may encounter so that they become well-adjusted and more importantly respond well to the unexpected stimuli.
Enrolling your dog in a training course can help to ease any of his or your social anxieties before setting out on an adventure. The proper training will help to ensure that he is exhibiting the desired social behaviors when in public.
As you set out on your journey of becoming a pet owner, you’ll quickly discover the perks outweigh any costs or inconveniences to ownership. Our friends over at Harvard Medical School are putting current studies to practice by having a therapy dog regularly visit their employees at the office (talk about job perks!). Studies show that even just petting a dog can put you in a good mood and ease stress.
We know that dogs are good to their humans. Being a pet owner has incredible health benefits and there is a lot of research that backs this up. Pets help provide emotional stability, cheer us up, help to improve our physical health and are even known to help heart attack survivors in their recovery. And of course, dogs are man’s best friend!
Due to the new Department of Transportation (DOT) policy, Emotional Support Animals are NO longer allowed to fly in airplane cabins for free. However, psychiatric service animals are eligible.
The benefits of an Emotional Support Animal certification and a Psychiatric Service Dog certification are drastically different. Fortunately for you, American Service Pets’ network of active board certified doctors can help you on the path. To find out whether you need an ESA or PSD letter, take our easy, three-step Pet Owner Survey!
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