In the last hundred years, dogs have become even more than best friends for millions of people- they are an integral part of living their everyday lives.
They serve as guides for people with vision impairment. The dogs are trained to alert people with severe medical issues like epilepsy and diabetes. They are even being trained to support disabled veterans.
According to an infographic from the University of Nevada-Reno, more than 3.8 million veterans have a service-connected disability, such as a limb loss that inhibits mobility and PTSD, which can be debilitating to adjusting to civilian life.
People who own service dogs already know how important it is to ensure their dog is impeccably taken care of and kept as healthy as possible.
If you are looking into getting a service dog for yourself or a family member, you must ensure you are ready to care for one. While all dogs should be well cared for, because of the vital and often life-saving assistance dogs provide, extra special care needs to be taken.
Many people need emotional support animals because they usually help people cope with depression or increased anxiety.
ESA letter benefits
With the help of an ESA letter from a competent specialist in mental health care, you can have your emotional support animal. An ESA letter contains information about the therapist, and there are some ESA letter requirements as well.
Getting an ESA letter also helps ensure you don’t have difficulty finding a place to live with your service animal, so be sure to understand what an ESA letter for housing is and how it helps protect you and your service dog.
In the first case, you should contact a licensed mental health professional, and after the consultation, the specialist will suggest an emotional support animal as extra therapy.
Regular vet checkups
All dogs should get a checkup at least once a year, but unfortunately, many pet owners don’t do this, especially while the dog is in its young adult years. This is something you cannot skip as a service dog owner.
Regular visits to the vet will ensure that any health problems your service dog may develop can be addressed immediately.
You should also watch for sudden health changes, as they can be caused by several different parasites common to dogs. Taking preventative actions like giving heartworm medication or flea and tick ointment are also great ways to help prevent problems before they arise.
The type of food you choose can affect the health and lifespan of your dog. You want your service dog to live as long as possible, so feeding him high-quality food is essential.
Though so many dog food brands advertise their highly nutritious food, it’s hard to discern which ones are healthy.
A great site to use to compare dog foods is dogfoodadvisor.com. You can look up different foods based on their name or star rating to see how they stack up.
As an alternative to kibble, many dog owners swear by raw feeding, believing it’s more nutritious and natural. Remember, though, that feeding raw is incredibly expensive and, if done incorrectly, can be hard on your dog’s health.
Keep up with training
Contrary to what you might believe, service dogs trained by organizations aren’t just “finished” when they graduate from their service training programs. You must be prepared to continually work with them every day and be firm and uphold their training standards.
Dogs aren’t robots that can be trained and listened to 100% of the time. They need to keep up with their training to keep you safe and be a good ambassador for service dogs everywhere.
The growing number of fake service dogs is already causing problems for the disabled community; real service dogs that aren’t kept to standard with regular training will add to that problem.
Service dogs are a tremendous asset to so many people with disabilities. The tasks they are trained to perform help them live more independent lives.
But with the benefits comes a lot of upkeep and responsibility. Preparing yourself for every aspect of a service dog before getting one will ensure you can have a long and productive partnership.
Mila Sanchez is a writer with a BA in English Linguistics living in beautiful Boise, Idaho. Her ambitions include traveling the world, studying languages, and taking pictures of her dog, Baymax. Connect with her on Twitter and Instagram!