Vail Daily Pet Talk: Are you your dog’s best friend? | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily Pet Talk: Are you your dog’s best friend?

Stephen Sheldon
Pet Talk
Vail, CO Colorado

We hear the statement, “dogs are mans’ best friend,” so often that it makes me wonder sometimes: Are you your dog’s best friend? Let’s look at what it takes to be the best friend you can to your dog.

The basic necessities are food, water, time, commitment and finances.

Food and water are pretty self-explanatory, although we get lots of questions about what is best to feed your dog. Lifestyle type foods (ie. puppy, adult, senior etc) are one of the biggest factors in helping your dog live a long healthy life. Basic dog food sold at the grocery store is OK; premium diets like those found only at pet stores are better in my opinion and a good investment. I don’t think dogs (or people for that matter) need bottled water, but it is a question I get asked a lot.

You need to spend time with a best friend. I consider my wife my best friend and I take her for a walk whenever I can! Treat your dog the same way. Dogs are truly members of the family and like all family members, they need attention. If they do not get proper attention they will misbehave. Euthanasia due to behavioral issues is the number one killer of young dogs. Some dogs need more exercise than others, say for instance, the herding dogs as opposed to a Chihuahua.

In order to be a good friend to your dog you also need to be committed. Committed to not only providing food and shelter, but also for medical care. Do you have a suitable place for your dog to live? What are you going to do with your dog during the day when you go to work? What about vacation? These all need to be thought out before you bring home a dog.

You also need to think about whether or not you can afford a dog. In these troubled economic times shelters across the country are swelling with abandoned or surrendered dogs whose owners cannot afford them.

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Basic medical care such as vaccinations, occasional cuts and bruises, ear infections and throwing up the garbage after eating it will run you around $220 to $400 a year. Car accidents, cancer, surgery, etc. can run into the thousands per year. Pet insurance is a good idea to protect against catastrophic illnesses or accidents. Many animal hospitals offer in-house insurance-like programs.

Let’s face it; pets are a luxury. However, they are a living, breathing luxury. Our profession truly is one of compassion and veterinarians do more than their share of charity work. In Florida we were the local wild duck hospital! And yes, veterinarians do love animals. But an animal hospital is like any other small business – it takes a lot of money to keep them running. So we must charge adequately for our work. We are all a little uncomfortable talking about bills but they are just another one of your responsibilities as a pet owner.

So yes, there are a lot of responsibilities to being your dog’s best friend. But oh the rewards are so worth it!

Stephen Sheldon, DVM, practices at Gypsum Animal Hospital. He can be reached at 524-DOGS or on their website http://www.gypsumah.com.