She can smell the bone-in ribeyes long before they come off the grill. She’s looking at you and the platter of food with that longing look unique to dogs, waiting for that moment when you put a few pieces of meat and fat in her bowl or, even better, hand her a bone to finish cleaning and eventually devour. Nothing would better show her how much you love her than to give her what she wants, right?
Wrong. It might make your dog happy—in that moment—to give her human food. It might be easier to allow bad behavior that they seem to enjoy—such as jumping up onto people—than to bother taking the time and energy to train them. But these permissions and oversights are not the kind of love your pet needs.
Your pet needs the kind of love that is rooted in good care. That kind of love ultimately will help your pet be healthier, less stressed and anxious, and more likely to live longer. What are the pillars of good care for pet owners to focus on? I believe they are diet and exercise, behavior training, living environment, and proper medical care.
Diet and Exercise
You wouldn’t feed yourself only cheeseburgers and candy bars…right? (The correct answer is right.) But many pet parents feed only high-carb dry food and junky treats to their pets. They make matters worse by feeding pets way too much of both and/or not ensuring they get regular, daily exercise. A big part of what we do at Pine Street Animal Hospital is help you select the proper food, the proper serving sizes, and even healthier snacks and treats. Getting this right is the single-most important thing you can do to ensure your pet lives a long, healthy life.
We encourage all of our families to train their dogs in proper behavior. There are many local classes for dog owners, and we will be happy to recommend a trainer and help you find the right person to work with you and your pet. There is also an abundance of quality books, manuals and information online for people who want to train their dogs themselves. We have our favorites and will be happy to help you select the right program. What is most important is to do it and be consistent with it. Poor behavior isn’t just troublesome or annoying — it can be extremely dangerous for your dog, and for other dogs and humans they encounter.
Providing your pets with a comfortable, dry, clean place to rest is incredibly important to their overall health. It is also important for them to feel safe. Dogs, especially, can become frightened or stressed and need access to a safe hiding place to escape to. Your pets also need an appropriate place to relieve themselves. And it should go without saying, but ensuring your pet is always safe from hazards like vehicular traffic is paramount.
Proper Medical Care
The team at Pine Street Animal Hospital considers helping you with those first three categories an essential part of our role. Of course, we are primarily here to be the medical care provider for your pet. And an essential part of loving and caring for your pets is ensuring they receive proper medical care. In addition to providing regular, annual checkups, we are here if your pet becomes ill or gets hurt.
Sometimes that has meant an emergency situation after a dog has been given that bone we mentioned at the start. It happens all too often, in fact. So as hard as it might be, skip the bones and focus on these basics. Your pet really will love you for it.