Maintaining a loving bond with your four-legged canine companion is important, but responsible dog ownership goes well beyond feeding, walking, playing, and caring. September is National Responsible Dog Ownership Month, and the Denver Area Veterinary Medical Society (DAVMS) recommends several ways to be responsible dog owners year-round.
The first step to being a responsible pet owner is being a committed one. Dog owners should be prepared to care for a dog’s physical and emotional wellbeing throughout their entire life. In addition to being a life-long companion, dog owners must commit to providing personal care, training, exercise, and regular veterinary care.
Man’s best friend requires a proper diet to stay fit and healthy. Dogs need food that is appropriate for their size and age so they are getting the right portions and necessary nutrients. Although they may beg for it relentlessly, some “people food” can be bad for a dog’s diet or even deadly. While peanut butter, green beans, cooked eggs, and cooked meats or fish can be okay for a dog, and pumpkin and sweet potato can be especially good for digestion, other foods, like chocolate, avocado, grapes or raisins, garlic, onions, dairy, caffeine, and alcohol, can be extremely dangerous for your dog.
Regular grooming is another important part of canine care. Brushing dogs regularly—and trimming for longer haired dogs—and giving baths will keep their fur from getting tangled and help eliminate unpleasant odors. Regular ear cleaning is also an important part of grooming since ears can be a breeding ground for bacteria, which can cause infections and discomfort.
Dogs need a lot more exercise than many other pets, and should be walked daily. Breed, size, and energy level will also affect how often a dog needs to be exercised. Smaller dogs typically require fewer, shorter walks while large dogs may need to be let out longer and more frequently. Taking a dog out for walks is good for you and your dog’s well-being since restlessness can cause behavior issues in pets if not managed properly.
Another way to be a responsible dog owner is providing your dog with basic training. Training is important for you, your dog, and others that your dog comes into contact with. Teaching your dog standard obedience training that addresses issues such as nipping, chewing, and jumping will help your dog thrive in a social environment. Training a dog that can be aggressive is especially important to prevent biting or other accidents that can happen during interactions with others.
Finally, regular veterinary care is essential for dogs—and all pets—to keep them happy and healthy. In addition to seeing a veterinarian when they are sick, dogs need annual visits to monitor their health. Wellness exams can help detect many issues or illnesses owners can easily overlook, before they become serious, costly, or life-threatening. Dogs should have up-to-date vaccinations, such as rabies and parvovirus vaccines. Spaying and neutering dogs is also important to reduce pet overpopulation, and studies show that it can likely increase their lifespan. Veterinary care is an important part of taking care of your pet, and owners should factor in the cost of care before taking on the responsibility of pet ownership.