Congrats! You’re now the proud pet parent of the fluffiest, cutest, most loving friend you’ll ever have. You’re probably also experiencing a bit of anxiety because you’re a brand-new parent of a thing you have to keep alive and healthy. Never fear—we’re here to make sure you start your new relationship off on the right foot.
The return rate on lost dogs with microchips is 52 percent. Non-microchipped dogs? 22 percent. So, first thing’s first: Microchip your dog. Sure, you’ll do your very best to keep your dog’s collar (with tags) on at all times, never let him off his leash in public, and only visit fenced-in dog parks. But the reality of being a pet owner is that things happen. Microchipping is relatively painless, and it’s well-worth the tiny pinch to insert the rice-sized device.
Speaking of leashes and collars, there are tons of options:
- A retractable leash allows your dog a little more range. The biggest danger with these is they can snap.
- A prong collar slightly pinches your dog’s neck. They’re controversial, but if your dog needs a little extra control, they can be a good option.
- Regardless of the leash you use, a harness adds a bit of extra security, especially if your dog tends to pull.
- A head dog collar is great for dogs who need guidance following commands.
- A standard leash, is, well, pretty standard.
The best way to figure out which leash is right for you? Start with the basics, then move into other solutions if it feels wrong.
Even if you’ve got your dog microchipped and on a leash, it’s still a really, really good idea to have your dog wear a collar with a tag at all times. The quickest way to identify a dog who’s gone rogue is by checking their tags, so make sure they’re always up-to-date. On their tag, you’ll want to include:
- Your dog’s name
- Your phone number
- The city where you live, and even your address if you have space
And make sure you choose a quality metal, too—some wear faster than others, and legibility is key.
Wet or dry? Dehydrated? Raw? Made from scratch in my kitchen? We all know food is important, and when it comes to choosing the right diet for your dog, the going gets tough.
Like humans, knowing what exactly you’re eating is of utmost importance. Can’t pronounce it? Probably can’t really digest it, either. Look for ingredients you know—fish, chicken, beef, oats, quinoa, sweet potatoes, peas, carrots—and make sure you’re offering your dog a balanced diet. As for the actual form in which it’s served, it’s really up to lifestyle. Have time to make homemade dog food? Go for it. Dehydrated seem most cost-efficient? Great! As long as you’re keeping a close eye on what’s entering your dog’s body, you’re doing it right.
The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary help.