How to Take Care of Pets - Animal Companions
Breeders and Pet Store
Avoid buying any animals from those places as they are often treated inhumanely. Those places are only interested in money. Instead, adopt a pet from an animal shelter / rescue center as they will be killed if nobody adopts them in time. You could save a life and have a best, loyal, appreciative friend for a long time as a reward!
It is recommended to adopt / rescue a dog from a shelter or humane society rather than buy from a pet store or breeder. That cuts down on animal cruelty and euthanizations. Try adoptapet.com. If you get a commonly banned breed of dog such as German Shepard, Pit Bull, etc., be sure to keep a muzzle on it at all times when in public. Even if those breeds are raised to appear gentle, they are inherently highly defensive and territorial and thus most likely to attack other pets and people.
"Vets" have their place in a pet's life such as getting checked for heartworm twice a year and rabies shots as required. Beware they did not go to college for seven+ years and get deeply in debt just to help your dog, but also to make money. It may not be necessary for your dog to take heartworm medication during months of no mosquitoes. It is probably unnecessary to have other tests performed that they recommend. If your pet has skin or scratching issues, simply buy over the counter medicated shampoo. Unnecessary handling by a vet can cause your dog harmful stress and cost you a lot of money. Every time you take your dog to the vet, you put it at risk of contracting a contagious disease because that's where dogs go when they get contagious diseases!
Doctors of veterinary medicine often don't like us referring to information on the Internet. They often claim it's dangerous to go by "blanketed" information since each pet is unique. However this isn't fair because much of the work they do is guess work (they often guess what medications to prescribe, etc.). So both methods are not anywhere near perfect.
The more you learn here, the less you will need to take your dog to a veterinarian, thus reducing stress to your dog and avoiding high vet costs.
Secrets Veterinarians Don't Want You to Know
You can buy your own test kits (for diabetes for example) for about the same price they charge for one test. This way it pays for itself upon first use and you don't have to deal with vet appointments and vet tech handling trauma to your pet.You don't have to buy any drugs from them. They have to allow you to purchase them at Costco, etc. which likely will be significantly cheaper and more convenient to refill.They get paid to promote Science Diet products, all of which are inferior to many other brands.
A good percent of the fees go towards making up for those who didn't pay.
May quickly or eventually diagnose and treat your companion animal without worse side effects, but sometimes not without trial and errorWill eventually find problems you weren't aware off and offer treatment before it gets worse of possibly fatalWill educate you on how to prevent further issues with you pet.
Not trained in holistic approaches due to less profitability (except holistic vets)Likely will eventually overprescribe highly profitable medications or do highly profitable (lucrative) unnecessary tests. Rarely will inform you of side effects and risk factors of highly profitable medications. Your pet could contract something at the clinic due to many other sick pets there in and out constantly. Eventually will make mistakes and never admit if found out later; Will not tell you if they discover another doctor made a mistake. Eventually will be extremely expensive; will charge you fees even if they misdiagnose or mistreat. They do not have to get paid based solely on performance or results, rather they ultimately get paid for their time and previous cost of school factor. I believe this should change. The excuse of it sometimes being difficult to diagnose something is not a valid argument for big fees. If they don't know the right answers, they are not skilled enough for the compensation. In by far most other client billable professions, they don't get paid if they make a mistake, misdiagnose or make guesses. Doctors should not be treated any different just because they got in big school debt during their first few years.
Before Visiting a Vet
Front-line receptionist women who are almost always incompetent idiots with the poorest listening skills. Try to avoid the veterinarian in the first place: Research online for possible diagnosis and cures. Although many clinics are clean and safe with competent staff, many are not and your pet could get more sick going there. If you find a solution through online research, use the money saved to buy your pet the expensive treats it likes best as well as high quality supplements. Create a summary of pet via webpage, pdf, etc. and email to the office a few days prior to visiting. Print it and bring to appointment in case the doctor didn't see it yet. State on the pet summary and in the email to the office that you wish to have all prescriptions filled at Costco (if you're a member) or CVS. This will save you a lot of money. Have a list of questions ready for the doctor to answer. Buy a fabric muzzle for your dog from Amazon and bring to the appointment in case they need to do something the dog doesn't like. Otherwise they will provide a used muzzle with other dog's possible germs or diseases.
During the Vet Visit
Do not provide confidential personal info on the intake form. This could be abused and increases risk of expensive procedures (if they have your credit file credentials, they know they can collect a lot easier and might want to rack up a big bill).Install an audio recording app on your phone. Record as soon as the doctor enters the room, turn off after leaving the clinic. You won't be able to remember everything and they will not provide you a written explanation. You will pay a lot for the exam, treatments, tests, etc. so why not have what they said handy? It's illegal in some states to record like this, but our legal systems are a farce anyway, so as long as nobody else finds out, you're fine; even if someone finds out, nothing will be done. Just don't post online, etc. (to expose malpractice, etc.) unless legal in your state and the state the exam was performed. Make it clear to the doctor at the beginning that you wish to have any prescriptions filled at a pharmacy of your choice (Costco or CVS recommended). Because their meds are huge money makers, this will discourage overprescribing. Do not pay anything until all your questions have been answered and concerns have been explained clearly. You are there to pay for a doctor's skills, NOT his/her cost of education. There is a big difference between an expensive education and real life competency. If the doctor failed to diagnose the problem, don't pay. Don't engage in much chit-chat not relevant to helping your pet. If you do, your pets needs may be cut short because they have to tend to the next appointment or a walk-in emergency.
After the Vet Visit
Give your pet a bath soon after the office visit. Update your pet's medical file with what was done and when.
Most dogs won't let you know they are out of water, so monitor several times a day. Change their water frequently, preferably with filtered water. It's OK if the dog goes without food for a while, but not good if they have dirty or no water. It's recommended to change their water three times per day. Test: Look at their water. Would you drink it? If not, change it. Use a pure white bowl so you can see if it is clean.
Don't give hard bones or antlers: The risk of tooth damage is too high especially if over 7 years old. Bully sticks are best even though expensive, better than rawhide for their digestion. If they are too hard for your dog (usually for older dogs), soak them for 24 hours in a zip lock bag of water. Don't buy any canned food. It causes their teeth to rot quickly. Provide high quality food without wheat (fillers) or sweeteners. If over 7 years old, switch to "mature" dog food (so they are provided with joint health nutrients they need at that age). When dogs reach 10 years of age, give them more extra MSM / Glucosamine supplements for dogs.
30 pounds is ideal and big enough for protection. Smaller dogs live longer they consume less resources for example less meat and dog food are better for the environment. A smaller dog leaves less poo and hair to clean up. They can be placed in shopping carts without having to be service dogs and can more easily or likely travel with you in public transportation.
If you don't take care of your dog's teeth, it could cause your dog to live a shorter life as well as cost you a lot of money for teeth cleaning and dental work. It's cheaper to buy the expensive dog toothpaste and bully sticks to prevent future problems. Sometimes dogs like to eat grass which you should allow as it's good for their digestive system. However sometimes they can sneeze and choke a bit on the grass, but they will get over that eventually. In rare cases the sneezing will be violent; time will allow that to clear up.
Itchy skin (belly, etc.) natural remedy: Coconut oil and/or hemp oil.
If dog acts uncomfortable or in pain and you can't figure it out, take him in for dental x-rays to see if there is at least one tooth that needs attention before possible bone loss spreads to other teeth and he is suffering more and more the longer you wait.
Heat Rashes: Put many wet rags in a refrigerator or maybe freezer. Apply on affected skin for soothing relief.
Prescriptions & Drugs
Try to avoid these as much as possible. Most areas are a threat for heartworm and thus monthly heartworm preventative medicine is likely needed. In higher risk areas, a heartworm test is a good idea annually. Use Advantix II which has mosquito repellent during appropriate months.
Purchase a special nail trimmer designed for dogs and get your dog used to trusting you with it as early of an age as possible. Start by trimming very small parts at a time and pay very close attention not to trim into the pink under area of any nail. If you do, the dog will be in pain and will be too scared to let anyone trim his nails for the rest of his life. You can also just have your vet or local pet store do it regularly.
Dog's ears should be cleaned once per week. You will go through many q-tips as they build up a lot of mess in there. Don't go too deep. Use a flashlight to look deep in there for any hairs that could be causing irritation at the base of the canal and remove those hairs.
Keep your dog fenced in if let outside freely. They will cross dangerous roads without hesitation. Too many dogs are hit by vehicles, causing vet bills that exceed the cost of fences. Buy a harness for your dog for walking on a leash. Never attach a leash to a collar as neck damage could occur, especially with dogs with smaller necks. Do not keep a tight leash unless necessary. Give them some freedom to smell around which is very important for them.
Problems to Expect in Public
There are many mean people out there who don't appreciate your cute, friendly dog approaching them or their property. They can be very hostile, especially if your dog is off leash. It is recommended to let your dog have off leash exercise and play time when feasible; otherwise when near a lot of people or traffic, put his harness and leash on.
Dog Parks, Rest Areas and Pet Stores
Try to avoid those as much as possible due to the threat of contagious diseases, warts, kennel cough, etc. You can take your dog into all major hardware and sporting goods stores without it having to be a service dog as long as it's well behaved.
Hugs are perceive it as a threat of dominance. Don't pet the face or head (children tend to do this too much) of dogs that don't know you. Don't tease dogs with confusion or malice.
Toys, Play & Tricks
Provide a variety of toys and play with your dog regularly, especially when it brings you a toy. Most dogs love empty plastic bottles with the lids tight. Remove all of the label be careful of the hard cap that can injure an eye or tooth. Teach tricks as early as possible. It can take some time to train, but is worth it. Praise your dog often. They really do understand that and it makes them feel good which boosts their immune system and overall health.
As of early 2018, There is no certification or registration required for a service animal. Some states have tried to implement such a thing, but it is illegal; therefore ignore all state laws because service animals are protected by federal (ADA Titles I and II) laws.Are any of your pets well behaved in public already? Are any young enough to be trained to be well behaved in public? If so, consider claiming it to be a service animal. There are no restrictions on breed of dog. A dog would be more accepted and easier to deal with the public than a "service snake".Best service animal (if you don't have a candidate already) is a poodle dog of any size. Poodles are intelligent / easy to train and hypoallergenic. Unfortunately, there aren't many poodles available at shelters and buying from a breeder equates to denying a home for a dog in a shelter. Therefore, if you can't find a poodle in a shelter or as a rescue, consider other breeds. If you have an ADA disability or are a wounded veteran, some organizations offer already trained service dogs.