As many of you know I am the proud owner of a rescue pooch. He has been quite the entertainment for me over the last ten years, but, having never owned a dog on my own before, it has also been quite the learning curve. Today I’d like to give some practical advice for owning a dog.
1) Check out the breed before purchasing/adopting. I adopted my pup from the local ASPCA, but I did do a bit of research before I stepped out into this adventure. I knew that I wanted a dog that had little to no health issues. *Side note: ALL dogs have health issues. If you expect to get a dog and never take it to the vet – think again.* But, especially if you’re low on finances, you can opt for breeds that have a lower instances of health issues. My Max is a cockapoo. Now I didn’t research that breed in particular since it’s a mix, but I did research cocker spaniels, which he is mixed with so I knew, sort of, what I was getting into.
2) Get to know your vet. Once again, you will go to the vet. Ask your friends and find out which ones locally are good. Although there are several practices in my area, I go where probably 90% of my friends go. In addition, I take Max when it’s time for his shots and what-not and I’ve learned to ask lots of questions. The dog can’t tell you what’s wrong and they can’t complain or ask their own questions so don’t think a question is too dumb. It never is. And if your vet makes you feel stupid – move on. I’ve never had an issue with mine. They give me all the details so I can make an informed decision.
3) Ask what you can do at home. In addition to being on good terms with Max’s vet, I also ask “What can I do at home to save some money?” They get it. Dogs don’t have insurance (okay, I guess they do have that now, but I’m not paying for it…) so it’s a smart question to find out what you can do on your own for less money. Max has sensitive skin and he breaks out a lot. He gets rashes and has severe dandruff. After spending hundreds of dollars treating the rashes I finally asked “What can I do to prevent this?” Guess what? Fish oil and Benadryl. Both over the counter medications that are cheaper (trust me) than dog antibiotics. In the summer when his rash is the worst, he gets at least one Benadryl a day – sometimes two. *Word of caution: Check with your doctor to see what the maximum dosage is for your dog’s size – it depends on their weight.* He gets some peanut butter with it so he thinks it’s a treat and his rash stays at bay. Problem solved. The fish oil helps to keep his coat soft and retain some of the oil so he has less dandruff too. He gets that in his breakfast and doesn’t seem to mind it at all. *Word of caution: fish oil is just that – oil – so watch for loose bowel movements and cut back the dosage accordingly.*
4) Be attentive. Max gets his rash spots on his belly and under his leg pits. In any given day, I don’t check every inch of him so sometimes it flares up before I notice – especially since he’s a hairy little beast once his coat starts coming in. So what I’ve done to remind myself is I get down on the floor with him at least a couple of times a week and we play. Not only does this strengthen our bond, but more often than not he’ll roll over for tummy rubs and I can inspect while he’s getting pampered. *Word of caution: Don’t dilly dally. If the tummy isn’t getting rubbed your dog will more than likely shut the door on your inspections.* I’ve started using a bit of Neosporin on any rashy spots as well. The vet says this is okay – cortisone works too – but I keep watch to make sure he doesn’t lick it after I apply It shouldn’t hurt him, but again, might cause a bit of loose bowels. I also watch what he does outside most times. This ensures that he isn’t eating something he shouldn’t or straying too far from our home.
With just a few of these tips you can enjoy your new four legged friend for years to come. Feel free to share your tips with me too!
And be sure to follow me on Instagram – lots of pics of Max!