Finding the right emotional support dog can take time. You need to choose the right breed, find one with a pleasant personality and ensure your ESA is the best fit for you. When you get it right, it’s one of the best feelings in the world. One of your core responsibilities as an ESA owner is to ensure your emotional support dog has the best and longest life possible. Luckily, there are simple ways that you can increase the lifespan of your emotional support animal.
Spay or Neuter Your Emotional Support Dog
Spaying or neutering your ESA dog is one of the easiest ways to help keep your pet’s health in top shape. It should be done soon after you register your emotional support animal (if it hasn’t been done already). Recent studies examining the death records of more than 40,000 dogs showed that, on average, neutered dogs lived nearly two years longer than their non-neutered counterparts. Neutered dogs avoid catching infections because they are less likely to roam away from the home, reducing their risk of picking something up. Both male and female dogs are also less aggressive after being neutered, meaning they’re less likely to get into fights with other dogs and get injured.
Get Regular Checkups
This may seem like an obvious one, but when you’re busy playing and enjoying the company of your healthy ESA animal, it can easily slip your mind that even the healthiest and most active of dogs still need regular checkups. Any potential problems will be detected early under the expert eye of your local vet, and they’ll ensure all the vaccinations are up to date. Remember, it’s much easier to prevent a problem than to treat one!
Maintain a Healthy Weight and Diet
Dogs have a very human problem, and reports of dog obesity are on the rise. Although it’s natural for dogs to put on a little weight when they get older, keep a careful eye on your emotional support dog so you can begin to adjust its diet if necessary.
It’s important to remember that human food is not the best thing for emotional support dogs. Avoid feeding them leftovers as those excess calories can really add up. Instead, invest in a high-quality canine food. If you’re unsure what’s best, ask your vet for a good recommendation. Not only will you be helping your dog maintain a healthy weight, but they’ll also get the vitamins and nutrients they need to be in good health.
No matter how good their diet is, emotional support dogs need to get lots of exercise. The amount will vary on your dog’s breed, age and general health, but a general rule is they should be getting a minimum of 30 minutes every day. If you have a larger ESA dog that is traditionally used for hunting or working — Labradors, German Shepherds or Collies — they may need up to two hours every day. As well as being good for their body, exercise keeps their mind in excellent shape as well, boosting their mood and helping them get a good night sleep.
Let Your Emotional Support Dog Relax
Time to relax and unwind can be just as beneficial to your ESA animal as vigorous exercise. An anxious, stressed ESA dog is not a happy or healthy animal. Invest if a comfy, cozy bed that will be a safe resting place for your dog after a long day of providing you with the emotional support you need. Once their day is over, reward them with treats and rubs so that they know it’s time to relax.
Practice Good Dental Hygiene
This can be easily overlooked among other health problems, but keeping your canine’s teeth in top shape is vital for their health. Dental disease in your companion dog can lead to problems with their vital organs, including their heart. You brush your teeth regularly, so it’s not surprising that it’s important to ask your vet about keeping your dog’s teeth clean and healthy, too.
Provide Good Training
Your dog may seem almost human at times, but there are situations where their animal instincts will kick in, and that can put them in danger. It’s vital to protect your ESA dog by training them so they’re less likely to put themselves into dangerous situations. At the very minimum, your dog should know to come when called and to sit and stay.
Offer Play and Companionship
Now this is the easiest tip of all: Ensure after all your emotional support dog’s hard work that they have time to play! It’s vitally important to keeping them happy and healthy for many years to come.
Remember, ESA dogs are social creatures, and they love to be with their humans. Life can get hectic and busy sometimes, but it’s important to give your emotional support dog the love and attention they need, not just because it will ensure they live a long and happy life but also because they deserve it, too.