Having a dog is a delight, an honor, and a responsibility. If you’re thinking about getting a dog, take the time to consider the commitment that comes with being a responsible dog owner and how it’ll impact your lifestyle. Here are six tips for being the best dog parent ever.

1. Keep Up With Grooming

Grooming facilities had an average occupancy rate of 75% in communities in 2022. This goes to show how important grooming is. Regular grooming keeps your dog’s skin and coat healthy by removing excess oils, debris, and dirt. This prevents allergies, infections, and skin irritations, keeping your dog’s coat silky and lustrous.

Grooming also prevents matting and tangling, which can be uncomfortable for your furry friend. During grooming, you can also check your dog’s skin for signs of parasites such as fleas or ticks. Early detection is key to preventing infestations and the spread of diseases.

2. Keep Their Teeth Clean

Dog dental care is as important as human dental care. To prevent tooth and gum disease, clean your dog’s teeth regularly. Although brushing every day is recommended, it can be impractical. You can do it three times a week using a soft bristle brush and an enzyme toothpaste designed specifically for dogs. Your vet may recommend routine anesthetic dental cleanings. Consider getting them chews specifically designed to promote oral health to help combat dental problems.

3. Take Your Dog in for Cancer Screening

Two-thirds of all new cancer cases are discovered in people aged 60 or older. While your furry friend can’t live that long, they can still develop cancer in their older age. However, dogs can’t communicate symptoms like humans can.

Dogs are also generally good at suppressing pain. It’s only when they start exhibiting clinical signs such as losing weight, throwing up blood, hunching over in pain, or no longer showing excitement about the prospect of going for a walk that they’re taken to the vet. Fortunately, a new cancer screening option, ‘liquid biopsy,’ is now available for dogs. It works similarly to the human equivalent of this test by employing next-generation sequencing technology to identify different cancer types using a simple blood draw.

4. Consider Physical Therapy

The typical physical therapy facility sees between 101 and 200 patients every week. Just like humans, your furry friend can also benefit from physical therapy. Canine physical therapy can help restore function and mobility to a diseased or injured pet using a variety of therapies, including acupuncture, electrical stimulation, heat treatment, and massage coupled with exercise and hydrotherapy. This integrated approach relieves pain, improves muscle and joint health, and supports a pet’s recovery after an illness, surgery, or accident. Veterinarians may recommend canine physical therapy as an alternative to surgery or a means to stimulate and reinvigorate aging pets mentally.

5. Keep Them Safe

Dogs are curious. Get your furry friend an ID tag with your contact information so people can contact you if they wander off. Consider microchipping your dog if you don’t want them to have an ID tag for security reasons. Microchips allow you to permanently identify your dog and make bringing your lost dog home easier. These chips are approximately the size of a grain of rice and can be scanned by a shelter or vet to identify the owner.

6. Keep An Eye Out For Changes

You’ll probably notice small changes in your dog’s schedule, behaviors, feeding, playfulness, and other aspects as they become older. They’re to be anticipated as normal adjustments, but look out for drastic changes. You can’t always chalk things on their becoming older because aging isn’t an illness in and of itself. Loss of appetite, excessive sleeping, irregular bowel movements, and pain symptoms can be signs of issues that go beyond aging. If your elderly dog exhibits any of these symptoms, contact your vet immediately.

Bringing a dog home is exciting. However, it comes with its responsibilities. Use these tips to give your dog the best care possible.