Thinking of getting a dog?
HAVE you been thinking of getting a pet, particularly a dog, for the first time? Dogs are endearing, and the experience can be delightful and rewarding. They teach you about empathy. Studies have shown that there are health benefits too. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, having a dog around helps lift your mood and reduce anxiety and feelings of loneliness, helps lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as your blood pressure. Walking the dog also provides a good measure of exercise and foster socialization.Clinic
But keeping a dog is not all that simple. We spoke with veterinarian Dr. Eduardo dela Cruz of Cebu Dog and Cat Clinic on Rizal Avenue, Cebu City, whose decades of experience imparts good advice especially for inexperienced/wannabe dog owners.
Commitment and Time
As an owner, there are responsibilities that you have to takeon and expenses you have to consider. Do you have time to attend to your pet? Do you live alone? Do you travel often?
Do you have a family that also shares your desire to own a dog? Are there people at home who have allergy issues? Are you
willing to put up with the mess, behavior problems, even sheddings? When the dog gets ill, do you have the time and energy to take your pet to the vet? All these and more you must ask yourself, said Doc Ed, whose own household has three dogs, 10 cats, a rooster and a fishpond of tilapia. Having a pet is like having an additional family member. You invest time and emotion.
If you decide on taking on a dog, how much space do you have at home? Big dogs will need considerable space. They will need a cage and you will
have to walk them because they need exercise. Otherwise, health problems and behavioral issues might arise. If you have a compact unit, forget about
having a big dog. Choose a breed that’s suitable to your available space or
Food and treats, vaccines, visits to the veterinarian’s clinic for routine checkup or health issues and grooming maintenance. Include these expenses
to your budget. A dog is taken to the vet for grooming purposes at least thrice a year and the cost is between P1,500 and P2,000 annually, said Doc Ed.
If you are a working person, dog food would be practical. Scrap food is fine but once the dog likes table food, it will no longer feed on dog food. He cautions pet owners against giving chicken bones to dogs since these are sharp and might puncture their intestines if not choke them. If you have to take your pet to a clinic or hospital and was recommended to undergo laboratory tests, discuss this first with the vet to have a full understanding of what’s happening with your dog. You may also want to consider spaying or neutering your dog if you don’t intend to breed dogs, another issue which your veterinarian can explainto you.
Now if you think you are ready to have a dog, Doc Ed advised that you research on different breeds of dogs and talk it out with a
veterinarian. If you have kids around, also ask your vet for tips and advice on how to deal with the new pet.
Dogs have distinct personalities, but they adjust to the personalities of their owner as well, he said.
Basically, they just want to be assured that they are loved. As to ideal breeds, Doc Ed recommends those that have short hair like the Daschund because they are easier to maintain.
“You can also see the condition of their bodies. You can see if they are losing weight, if they have ticks or fleas. Some of the fleas can cause tapeworms,” according to Doc Ed,a graduate of the University of the Philippines. Daschunds and beagles are good family dogs, he said. German Shepherds are also good pets, but it would be better to choose the short-haired ones. He also favors bulldogs as pets.
The Chihuahua and Shi Tzu, sometimes referred to as toy dogs, are nice to look at. The Chihuahua is a one-man master, while the Shi Tzu and poodle are high-maintenance dogs, Doc Ed said. He is not so keen about a Rottweiller saying it is a “difficult one to handle.” Similarly, a Belgian
Malinois is a “temperamental dog.”
As a responsible pet owner, Doc Ed said you should regularly check the mouth of your dog and examine its teeth and gums. The gums are an indicator of health.
“The paleness of the gums means there is something wrong with the dog’s health. I always tell my clients that they should know how to open the dog’s mouth, “ he said.
Knowing how to do this will also make it easier for dog owners to administer oral medicine.
When giving your pet a bath, plug the ear canal with cotton balls, about an inch and a half deep, so water won’t get in, he advised. Otherwise, the dog
will develop otitis or ear infection.
Doc Ed said the lifespan of a dog normally depends on the care — good food, vaccines, grooming — it gets. It used to be that one year of a dog’s life
equals seven human years. But today, with better nutrition and care, one year of a dog’s life is equivalent to seven-and-a-half human years. “At first glance, you can see how a family treats a dog by the way it looks,” Doc Ed pointed out.
Puppies can be weaned from their mothers when they reach five or six weeks. It’s very important for dog owners, especially first-time dog owners, to bring their puppies to a veterinary clinic to ensure that the proper vaccines are administered.
Finally, if you spent a fortune for your dog, consider embedding a microchip in your dog so it would be easier to locate it in case it gets lost.
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