It goes without saying not to buy a pet from an animal farm or someone who will only meet you on a roadside or service station.

Make sure you meet the owner in their own home, see the pet with its mother (and ideally father) and build a relationship with them before taking the animal away from its home. The longer an animal is with its mother the better for you as you can be reassured they were weened at the right time. This will help enormously in building a strong, natural immunity.

Knowing your animal came from a loving home will ensure the best start for both of you.

Just like humans we are putting toxins into our pets from a very early age. Vaccines start from 6-8 weeks and continue throughout their lives with annual boosters.

If you are travelling with your dog the only vaccine your dog will need proof of, for most countries, is rabies. If you aren’t travelling with your dog and your country of residence has been rabies free for a long time it is worth asking yourself the question as to whether this is necessary or not. Look at each vaccine individually, weigh up the risks and make an informed choice as to which ones you feel are necessary and which ones aren’t.

Remember that all vaccines are money-making opportunities for the pharmaceutical companies and the vets – who make up to two thirds on medications they prescribe. 

Whatever sized dog you have the vaccine will be the same quantity – the amount isn’t reduced for a smaller dog. 

Whether you vaccinate your pet or not is up to you. Don’t feel pressurised and only buy into annual medical policies once you’ve gone away and thought about it. Like everything do your own research before deciding what the best route is for you and your pet.

A good website is No More Vet Bills where you can get plenty of good advice from someone who’s been through it all themselves.

We love our pets but when it comes to food we tend to give what they eat far less attention  than we should. Nowadays 50% of dogs are dying of cancer because the food we give them is so highly processed. With Mars (whose pet food industry is worth $18BN) and Nestle ($15BN) being two of the biggest names in pet food it’s about time we start asking questions as to the healthiness and nutritional value of our pet food. 

Pet owners are starting to realise the problems of giving their animals food that is high in grains and corn. The best we can do is try and replicate the food that they’d have in the wild instead of giving them food that is easy for us to provide. 

The Dog Nutritionist on Youtube has some good recipes that are simple to do in your own home. One of the main discussions animal lovers have is can your pet be vegan? Many people see the way to create a kinder society than the one we currently have is to stop eating meat. The animal industry creates a huge amount of suffering yet when we get pets we are then challenged as to whether we support this industry for our own animals! 

There is no easy answer to this. On a personal level when we went vegan we did put our dog on a vegan diet. After a few months she began chewing frantically at her paws, creating big red patches where she gnawed off all her fur. Thankfully we had a friend who was very knowledgeable on animals and she asked if we’d changed her diet recently. We took her off the vegan food and her paws cleared up in days. 

It’s fine to try a vegan diet but be vigilant as to any changes in their behaviour in case it isn’t suiting their needs.

Spaying or neutering our pet is a huge decision but one that is taken very lightly in our western society. Yet taking the ovaries out of a 6 month old puppy is essentially bringing on the menopause in a baby – possibly leading to further health risks as they get older.

Some inventive people have been making hygienic nappies for when dogs are in season.

If you’re a responsible dog owner you won’t let your dog run off when she’s in season so this readiness to sterilise every dog seems to be a fairly drastic measure at keeping the pet dog population down. It’s not hard to limit your dog’s chances of getting pregnant but for some reason we aren’t told about this at the vets – instead it’s the quick fix of major surgery!

If we want to become pet owners we need to be responsible ones. That means ensuring their health is as important as yours. In doing so you won’t be giving your money to the large corporations who really only care about their shareholders – not your pets.

Further Reading

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Surprising New Science to Help Your Canine Companion Live Younger, Healthier, and Longer

Dr. Tanzer’s book will help you avoid unnecessary, expensive visits to the vet. You’ll learn the secrets to stop making your pet sick. Better yet, your pet will stop wanting to be sick.

Shares true stories which reveal animals’ thoughts and feelings on life, death and life after death. This book offers a collection of inspirational tales which is woven together with Pea’s moving story of her own dog, Morgan, and his physical struggle, his awareness of the right time to go and his insights and support from beyond the grave