Planning for Your Dog's Health Care

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Your Dog's First Visit to the Veterinarian

During your pet's appointment, your veterinarian will likely ask you a few common questions. Consider these questions before you arrive to ensure an efficient check up.

1. How long have you had your pet?

2. Where did you adopt him or her?

3. What vaccinations has your pet had? When?

4. What do you feed your pet?

5. Is your pet drinking more or less water than usual?

6. Has your pet lost or gained weight?

7. Has your pet displayed any odd behavior or symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, or vomiting?

8. Does your pet go outside?

9. Has your pet ever suffered any serious medical condition?

Contact your veterinarian to schedule a health screening for your pet. Be sure to ask your veterinarian when you should schedule your pet's next appointment.

Before adopting a dog, take a moment to consider the amount of care your pet will require and your ability to provide that care. Too often a cute face and wagging tail inspires individuals to bring home dogs without really considering the amount of time and financial resources required to raise healthy and happy dogs. As a result, animal shelters fill and pets do not receive the care they deserve.

Budget

Before adopting, look at your household budget. Dogs should have a yearly check-up at the veterinarian and get the required vaccines. Don’t forget the daily expense of pet food, medications, toys, and other supplies. Keep in mind, the bigger the animal, the higher the cost. Before you settle on adopting a St. Bernard or Great Dane, consider the quantity of food the animal will require and how much room your budget has to accommodate your new pet's appetite. Remember to calculate your pet's average expenses into your monthly budget as well as a reserve emergency savings for any accidents or unexpected trips to the veterinarian. If you don’t have emergency savings available, pet insurance might be a responsible option; the monthly cost will be consistent and most of your pet's veterinary care will be covered. You can check on-line to compare the dozen pet health insurance companies. Be sure to ask about exclusions or what is not covered. You can always contact your veterinary office for information about the specific cost of care.

Veterinary Appointments

Regular veterinary appointments are necessary for your dog's welfare. When bringing a new puppy or dog home, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible to screen your pet for any unknown conditions and to make sure all vaccinations are up to date. Your veterinarian will also help you select the best food for your dog, answer any questions you might have about making your home safe for your dog, and help you to provide the best care for your pet throughout its different stages of life.

Planning Ahead

Planning for a dog's future is often overlooked, but should always be taken into consideration. If you have a dog at home, carry a pet emergency notification card in your wallet. If something prevents you from returning home, an emergency contact will be notified that your pet is in need of care in your absence. Establish either a formal or informal agreement with a trusted individual who will be able to care for your pet in your absence. Be sure this individual will have the time and financial resources which your pet needs. Keep a pet folder with all of your pet's information (medications, food, habits/behavior, and veterinary records) and instructions with your other important documents.

Sources:

American Veterinary Medical Association

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals