iStock_000019599571_MediumAs pet guardians, one of the hardest things to witness is the irresponsibility of some pet owners who allow their dogs to run loose, stay chained in the yard, or remain un-spayed or un-neutered. Yet, we may be neglecting more subtle but important pet health responsibilities as well.

It’s often easier than it should be to put our pooch’s annual wellness exams on the backburner, especially with the start of the school and holiday seasons on our minds (and wallets). Likewise, few entertain the thought that their dogs will need additional attention over the years, such as in the areas of training and socialization and seasonal parasite protection.

Assuming you’ve given a wonderful pup a forever home and have considered the roughly 8-18+ year commitment (depending on breed), what are some of the most important aspects of dog ownership that should be addressed? And, what are some of the expenses a mindful canine guardian can expect to plan for during the course of a dog’s life?

Consistent Veterinary Care

One way to establish a baseline for determining your dog’s health throughout all life stages is to maintain a yearly (or more, for older dogs) wellness exam schedule. Not only does this allow us, as your veterinary care team, to answer any questions you might have about important issues such as nutrition and weight management; but it also allows us to screen and diagnose your pet, avoiding any potential problems down the road.

Spay or Neuter

In many cases, if you have adopted a pet from a shelter or rescue, he or she has likely been spayed or neutered. Spaying or neutering your dog contributes to his or her health and well-being and can even decrease the risk of certain cancers. In addition, you are doing a tremendous service for the community and animals by decreasing the stray and homeless pet population.

Vaccines and Preventatives

By vaccinating your dog, you are providing one of the most fundamental and effective disease prevention measures available and safeguarding against the risks of exposure to numerous highly-contagious and sometimes life-threatening diseases.

Likewise, seasonal and year-round preventatives help keep your canine safe from heartworm, fleas, ticks, and other parasites that can create potential health risks and turn into costly (to health and finances), debilitating illnesses.

Training and Socialization

One of the best things you can do when adopting a new puppy or adult dog is to enroll him or her in group obedience classes. By exposing your pooch to other people and animals in a controlled setting, you are allowing him or her to learn how to interact with other dogs and learn behavioral cues that are important in curbing possible biting or nipping incidents later in life. Positive reinforcement is a great approach to training, as well as basic ethical obedience and social skills taught by a professional.

Some pet owners also find themselves working with behavioral specialists to address certain behaviors that are breed- or stress response-specific, such as resource guarding or separation anxiety.

High-Quality Nutrition

Just like us, what we give our pets to eat greatly contributes to overall energy, physical, and dental health, and his or her risk for pet obesity. As responsible pet parents, it’s important to realize that not all pet food is created equal. Many low-cost or familiar brands are comprised of additives, preservatives, and byproducts.

Choosing high-quality foods means looking at the labels for real meat and vegetables, as well as budgeting for the more expensive but more nutritious bags of kibble and canned foods.

Your Time

How many evenings have you just wanted to come home and relax, but Fido is ready by the door with his or her leash or ball in-mouth and ready to go? Sadly, many people jump on the chance to adopt a new puppy, then simply do not take the time to exercise, socialize, and interact with this special fur friend. One of the most important aspects of being a dog guardian is providing consistent exercise, mental stimulation, and love. Your pup deserves your time!

Of course, there are many considerations to top-notch doggy care, including grooming, travel care, toys and leashes, and (unfortunately, sometimes) emergency services.

Your friends at Springbrook Animal Care Center offer a wide variety of services – from puppy training classes to preventative care plans tailored to meet the lifelong health needs of your best friend. We know you want the best for your dog and we offer affordable, quality care to help you meet every need.