Dog care basics: how to be the best owner you can be (part one)
The basics of dog ownership might seem self-explanatory, but there are plenty of tips and tricks that often go unsaid. In this, the first part of a longer series, we’ll walk you through a few key things to keep in mind — from choosing a vet to getting nutrition right.
How to choose the right vet
● Source recommendations from friends and family. Word of mouth is a fantastic way of finding the right expert for your animal.
● Consider the price and location. Faced with a long commute and pricey fees? These factors might put you off making the trip in the future, which will only be detrimental to your dog’s health in the long run. Opt for a vet that makes the most practical sense. What’s more, if your vet is a long way away, he won’t be much help in an emergency.
● Ensure your dog is comfortable. Good vets have a second-hand way with all animals – an innate ability to keep them calm. If your dog appears anything but, that’s a red flag, and a sign you might consider another practitioner.
How to save money on veterinary care
● Invest in pet insurance. There are plenty of deals to be had and pet-specific discounts to be enjoyed. Shop around to find the right one for you.
● Haggle. Most prices are set in stone, but if you indicate you’re willing to go elsewhere, you might find that a practice cuts you a bargain deal.
● Veterinary colleges are a good bet. We all need to start somewhere, and trainee vets represent very good value, in particular for routine check-ups.
How to get nutrition right
● Keep the water bowl filled. Like a human, a dog is mostly comprised of water. Any time they get very hot, they’ll cool themselves by panting, but by doing this, they’re losing water through their tongues. Your average-sized dog requires between 1-2 liters of water a day. The bigger and more active they are, the higher that number needs to be of course. (A good bet is to keep refilling the bowl. Your dog will take sips when and as needed).
● Keep chocolate far away. Dogs are intensely allergic to chocolate – and that’s doubly true for pure dark chocolate. But even the garden variety white brands can be potentially hazardous.
● Use treats as rewards. We all know it – dogs love to eat. But the good news is that can be used in our favor. Reward your dog for learned, positive behaviors with small edible nibbles. Don’t overdo it though – that’s a surefire route to obesity.
Traveling with a dog
● Check customs laws if traveling abroad. Countries that allow foreign dogs might have an extensive quarantine process in place, so make sure you’re up to date with all the regulatory info.
● Heading on a road trip? Use a carrier if your dog is afraid. Carriers are useful for nervous dogs who don’t appear to like your driving style. That said, make sure the carrier isn’t too small (claustrophobia will set in) or too big (the dog might get hurt in the bends).