- Picking the Wrong Dog (Or Getting a Dog Before You're Ready)
Getting a dog on impulse is easy to do, especially during COVID times when we can spend more time at home with our furry friends than usual. It can be so hard to resist those puppy-dog eyes, especially when it's a dog in need of a home. However, there are many practical decisions to make before you decide that a dog is the one for you. To name just a few:
- Can and will you take the necessary time for dog training, exercise, other activities, bonding, etc.?
- Are you willing to put up with shedding, messes, illnesses, behavior problems, and more?
- Can you afford the dog?
- Is the dog's size appropriate for your living space?
- Are you even ready to own a dog? Or, to own another dog (if you already have a dog)?
- Will your current pets tolerate the addition?
- Not Offering Enough Exercise and Activity
Exercise is a basic need for every dog. Lack of exercise can lead to health problems and behavior issues. Some dogs need more exercise than others, but most need more than simple walks. Assess your dog's activity needs. Is your dog restless and bored? Does your dog seem hyperactive and excited all the time? Is your dog overweight? These are all signs that it needs more exercise.
- Avoiding the Veterinarian.
Are you one of those people who wait until your dog is sick to go to the vet? Well, you're not alone. A lot of dog owners skip or put off routine vet visits unless something is going on with their dogs. You may think, "my dog is healthy and feeling great, why should I stress him out with a vet visit?" Dog owners often want to avoid the cost and inconvenience of a vet visit. Reality check: This is not the best way to treat your dog. Your veterinarian is a key part of keeping your dog healthy. Most dogs will hide illness until it becomes unbearable. Routine wellness exams can allow vets to detect small health issues before they become big problems. These vet visits also help foster the relationship you and your dog have with your vet, making it easier to diagnose and treat illness when it comes along.
- Skipping Heartworm Prevention
The American Heartworm Society strongly recommends year-round heartworm prevention as heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease. Caused by an infestation of the parasite Dirofilaria immitis, heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes and can affect any dog anywhere in the United States.
You may say, "if heartworm disease can be treated, why bother with costly prevention?" If you think heartworm prevention is expensive, then you have never needed to pay for heartworm treatment. The heartworm treatment protocol may cost as much as $1,000–$1,500, and your dog can easily be reinfected in the future. Monthly heartworm prevention will cost about $35–$250 per year depending on the size of the dog and the brand of prevention.
- Neglecting Dental Health
Many people seem to think "doggie breath" is a normal thing. In truth, halitosis is a sign of some kind of dental disease. It may be as simple as some tartar buildup in your dog's mouth. However, left unchecked, this can become periodontal disease, leading to tooth loss and even systemic diseases such as kidney failure and heart disease.How can you prevent this? Home dental care is key. In a perfect world, everyone would brush their dogs' teeth daily. Either way, you should plan for regular veterinary dental cleanings. Without any type of home care, your dog will need a veterinary dental cleaning about one to two times per year.
- Feeding Improperly.
When it comes to feeding your dog, do you know the basics? All dog foods are not created equal… it’s important to remember the following:
- Ingredients matter. Over a lifetime, improper feeding can lead to health issues, including skin problems and malnutrition.
- Don't overfeed. Food is not love. Canine obesity is on the rise, and it's partly due to overfeeding. If your dog is overweight and you are feeding the amount recommended on the bag, then you probably need to reduce it.
- Be selective with treats and chews. Some dog chews can be dangerous, and some human foods are toxic to dogs. Choose appropriate treats that your dog loves, but feed them in moderation. Treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog's daily intake.
- Failing to Budget for Dog Expenses.
Dog ownership costs money. Sometimes it's a lot of money. Make sure your budget includes all of the routine costs associated with dog ownership, such as food, dog supplies, and veterinary care. Don't forget extras, such as the need to take a training class or the cost to hire a pet sitter when you travel. If money is tight, you can find ways to save money on dog expenses, but you still need a budget.