How to Care for Your Dog in Life and in Death

Our Best Friend Deserves the Best

Getting a dog is a big decision. You are welcoming a new member into your family. Whether you are buying a puppy or rescuing a senior dog, they deserve all the best you can give them.

Before you decide to bring home a dog, do your research. Figure out the best type of dog for your lifestyle. Do you have the space and time to cater to a greyhound or dalmatian?  Are you able to play fetch with your labrador or golden retriever? Do you or someone in your home have allergies and would do best with a wiry-haired breed? If you are considering adopting from your local shelter, check out the pups they have. Talk to the staff about any challenges that the pups may have, and take the time to go down to the shelter and actually spend some time interacting with your potential future housemate.

Regardless of the age of your pup, they should be up-to-date on vaccines when you bring them home, otherwise you will want to schedule an appointment with the veterinarian as soon as possible. Puppies require a different set of needs than older dogs. However, there may be decisions that you want to make for your dog that were not made earlier in their life, such as getting spayed or neutered. Your vet is available to inform you of all the different and healthiest options for your new furbaby.

If you are bringing home a puppy, it will need to be potty-trained. If you are able to be home to take the dog out frequently, that will probably be the fastest. Don’t be surprised if you have to wake up to take the dog out as well. In some rare cases, an adult may need potty-training, but that is typically one benefit to adopting an older pup.

Once the dog is settled at home, you will want to ensure that they have all the comforts that you do. Feed your dog once or twice a day. You will want to choose a food that provides all the nutrients your dog needs. In fact, your dog needs many of the same nutrients you do, and their food should include meat, vegetables, fiber, and grains.

If you decide to crate-train your pup, their crate should be a safe place. Ensure the crate is large enough for your dog to stand up completely and to turn around in a full circle. You can place a dog bed inside the crate. If you are not crate-training your pup, they should still have a comfortable place to sleep.

Your dog needs plenty of exercise. Ensure you have a comfortable harness that fits your dog and a leash. Do not use the auto-retractable leashes, they are dangerous and can cause injuries from burns to amputation for both humans and dogs. Take your dog out on walks and to your local dog park for socialization and exercise. Especially for puppies, exposing them to various types of dogs and humans in appropriate, controlled settings can be helpful in getting them used to a variety of situations they may confront throughout their life.

Play with your dog. Chewy dog toys, rope toys, and squeaky toys, there is no end to options to keep your dog active and engaged. Train your dog how to drop the toy and teach them how to react if the toy is taken from them.

Dog training is an important tool. Some dogs require more intensive training than others. If you need assistance training your dog, sign up for classes. They are offered through your local pet store or individual trainers are available if your dog doesn’t do well in a classroom setting.

Depending on the size and breed of your dog, you may consider professional grooming. Some dogs handle being bathed, brushed, and having their nails clipped. If you are uncomfortable with grooming your pet, many vets and pet stores offer grooming services.

Depending on the age and breed of your dog and other health factors, it may become necessary to supplement your dog’s diet with vitamins. Taking your dog in for regular vet visits will ensure that you stay on top of your dog’s health.

Did you know your dog has an endocannabinoid system? All mammals have an endocannabinoid system that is designed to interact with and benefit from cannabinoids. The cannabis plant has naturally occurring cannabinoids that you have certainly heard of (CBD and THC). While THC is not good for your dog, CBD, or cannabidiol, is. There are a lot of reasons to give your dog CBD. It may help with anxiety, stress, and pain. There are a number of things you want to consider when choosing CBD for your pup:

  • The source of CBD/ the source of the hemp
  • Additional ingredients
  • The issue you are trying to treat
  • Flavor
  • Dosage
  • Method (treats, oils, topicals)

When looking for a CBD option for your pet, Do the same research and due diligence for your pet as you would for yourself.

As your dog ages, they can get arthritis; severity can vary with the size and breed of your dog. Glucosamine supplements are available in various options for your pet as they begin to show signs of arthritis. In addition to arthritis, an injury can also cause levels in your dog’s liver to elevate, putting you on the hunt for a liver/kidney supplement for your pup. Even though most supplements are designed like treats and supposed to appeal to your dogs, some dogs are picky. You can coat the supplement with peanut butter (just make sure your peanut butter doesn’t have xylitol). You can also wrap the supplement in deli meat.

You may notice that as your dog ages, your vet visits become more frequent. Just like an aging human, an aging dog needs more extensive care. Dogs are susceptible to many of the same ailments and diseases that humans are, such as cancer, Lyme disease, and kidney failure. Even if your dog is healthy, eventually age will catch up with them. They may stop eating as much or be unable to get themselves up to go outside. Whatever the issue with your pup, you may eventually have to make the difficult decision to put them to sleep.

When the time comes to say goodbye to your beloved companion, ask your vet if you can accompany your dog. You are their human and should accompany them to the end of their journey. When your pup has passed, your vet will return your dog’s collar and leash to you. Many vets offer cremation services and you can get the ashes back. You can keep the ashes in an urn or other container, have them placed into a memorial for your pet, or scatter them just as you would with a human.

Regardless of if you cremate your dog or not, memorializing your pup can help you and your family with the loss. You can make your own memorial or purchase one. Your memorial can include photos, their favorite toy, a piece of their dog bed. You could even use their food dish to build the memorial if you do it yourself Other ways of memorializing your pet can include jewelry or a tattoo.

All of these topics need your consideration as you look into getting a dog. Perhaps you already got one, and hadn’t realized all the details that would go into their care. It’s not too late. No matter where you are on your journey through life with your furry friend, if you give them love and affection, they will certainly give it back to you.