It's Responsible Dog Ownership Month: Tips for keeping your dog happy and healthy
Dog ownership can be incredibly rewarding, but it’s more than just long hikes and comfy snuggles in front of the TV with your furry friend. As responsible dog owners, we work hard to ensure our pups have everything they need to stay safe, healthy, and happy. This September, we celebrate owners like you with Responsible Dog Ownership Month.
One of the most critical aspects of dog safety is surprisingly small: the humble microchip. This chip is placed under your dog’s skin and contains your information. If your dog is lost or escapes, anyone with a scanner will be able to get your pup back home. Of course, you can also reduce your pup’s risk of escaping at all by keeping it properly secured. Off-leash fun in safe, enclosed areas can be great for exploration and exercise, but in general, your dog should be on a leash. Not only is it the law in many places, but it also protects your pup from suddenly bolting after animals, a fright, vehicles, or something else.
Muzzle training can also help your dog stay safe. Some dogs are happy to vacuum up everything they encounter, and the “leave it” command might not be enough in all scenarios. A muzzle can prevent your furry friend from ingesting potentially dangerous or even just gross items.
Finally, keep doggy first aid supplies on hand in case of an emergency. This should include your vet’s number as well as the number of an emergency vet. Also, add supplies that you might need in case of a natural disaster so that you can grab and go.
Safeguarding your pup’s health might be one of the most important aspects of responsible dog ownership. Your furry friend needs a variety of vaccinations each year to protect against everything from leptospirosis and canine influenza to parvovirus and distemper. Regular vet appointments can help you stay on top of these vaccinations and monitor your dog’s health status. You also should keep your dog on all recommended preventives, including flea medications and heartworm preventives. Timely, appropriate medical care will reduce your furry friend’s risk of a variety of preventable illnesses and keep them healthier overall.
Along with providing routine and preventive medical care, you'll want to feed your dog a healthy, balanced diet. You don’t necessarily need to splurge on the priciest packaged food or carefully craft a raw food diet, but you should talk to your vet about their recommendations for your dog’s breed, size, age, and specific health needs. Adult dogs should eat a full meal about twice a day. Puppies and young adults may need snacks as well to keep their growth on track.
Finally, your dog needs exercise. Your vet can offer valuable pointers on how long and what type of exercise your pup needs most, but your dog’s breed can also give you hints. A greyhound, for example, might need just one good run a day while border collies will likely need at least two walks a day and some extra time with the flirt pole or a frisbee. Other dogs, like Belgian Shepherds, enjoy scent work while others, like rat terriers, may prefer activities like barn hunts. Matching your pup to the right activity will keep them not just healthier but also happier, which brings us to the final aspect of responsible dog ownership.
Exercising your dog provides them with physical stimuli, but it’s not necessarily enough for their mental wellness. Happy dogs need a lot of mental activity that can include activities, games, training exercises, and interactions with other dogs. While it might sound like a lot to put on your plate, dog daycare can fulfill some of these roles, especially when it comes to safe interactions with other pups.
Dogs that are well-socialized are less likely to suffer from behavior problems, aggression, and social anxiety. They’re even less likely to be reactive! When dogs are bored or unhappy, they entertain themselves. That entertainment could include looking for escapes out of your home or yard, problem chewing, barking, and other potentially dangerous or destructive behaviors. Taking a little time to create a plan to bring more enrichment into your pup’s life could ensure a happier and healthier dog.
Happy Responsible Dog Ownership Month from Playful Pack!