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6 Essentials You Need To Know About Owning A Dog

From puppy to 'pet pensioner', here's how to take care of your pet

Dogs truly are your best friends. They’ll greet you like you’re their favourite person in the world, pick up on your moods (and know just what to do if you need cheering up) and be your constant companions through life’s ups and downs.

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But being a dog owner is a long-term commitment that comes with some important responsibilities throughout your dog’s lifetime.

Here’s what you need to know.

1. Research different breeds before choosing your dog

Not all dogs are the same. Far from it. You might have fallen in love with the look of a certain breed or always dreamed of owning a Spaniel or a Golden Retriever, but each breed of dog has their own distinctive temperament. It’s in a Retriever’s genes to want to chew things and wallow in water while a Greyhound’s nature is to chase things. No amount of training is going to reverse the distinctive characteristics of a breed.

Be realistic about your lifestyle too - the size of your home and outside space, how much time you can give to walking your dog, whether you have a home full of boisterous children. When you and your dog - whether as a puppy or from a shelter - are well-matched, you can look forward to a long, happy relationship ahead of you.

Certain pedigree breeds are prone to long-term illnesses or conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes or congenital heart disease, so a lifetime insurance policy makes sound financial sense and will give you peace of mind. Petplan is the UK’s number one pet insurance provider and offers a ‘Covered For Life’ policy, ensuring help is available to cover any ongoing veterinary conditions that occur.

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2. Having a new puppy is hard work - and so rewarding!

Puppies are adorable; soft, cuddly and endlessly inquisitive. They’re also untrained, crave lots of attention and affection and have the potential to be a bit destructive; from digging a hole in your lawn to chewing your shoes, they’re learning about the exciting world around them.

Puppies are particularly prone to gastro problems and this, coupled with their ability to get into mischief and to eat everything, is why it makes sense to get Petplan dog insurance (which includes third party injury liability) from the moment you become a puppy owner.

Be prepared to dedicate essential time and attention to your puppy, settling them into your home, toilet training, getting them into a feeding routine recommended by your vet and socialising. Vaccinations are the most important way you can safeguard your young dog’s long-term health, along with regular healthy meals, an exercise routine and regular vet checkups. As your puppy becomes a young adult, don’t forget booster vaccinations and keeping up to date with kennel cough immunisations.

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3. Dogs help you stay healthy - mentally too

Dogs are fabulous mood enhancers, reducing your stress and helping you enjoy living in the minute. The soothing feeling of stroking your dog, chatting to them and going for a brisk, daily walk with a fun companion all aide your psychological and mental health.

Dogs take care of us, which is why it’s so important to take the best care of them too, and that includes noticing and responding to their changing needs as they get older, so they can enjoy a good quality of life. When you take out a Petplan’s Covered for Life Ultimate policy your dog can benefit from up to £14,000 cover per year for treatment costs, including vet fees for ongoing illnesses such as arthritis and injuries and up to £2,000 for complementary treatments including acupuncture and hydrotherapy to help restore them to tip top health.

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4. They cost a lot - but they’re worth every penny

If you thought owning a dog meant simply paying for the cost of your puppy or adoption fee and regular dog food, think again. You need to factor in regular vaccinations, worm and flea prevention medication and the very real possibility, over your dog’s lifetime, that they will need treatment following an accident or for an ongoing medical problem.

That’s why it makes sense to take out pet insurance, rather than face the sudden prospect of paying out thousands of pounds in veterinary bills when you’re already fraught and anxious about your dog.

Petplan offers a choice of policies to suit your dog and you: choose from the 12 months Essential plan, Covered for Life Classic or Covered for Life Ultimate.

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5. Just like children, dogs get ill too

And when that happens you want them to get the best treatment fast. If your dog develops a lump, you’ll want to find out quickly what the cause is (a benign fatty lump or a tumour that requires immediate treatment); if your dog starts showing stiffness you’ll want to know if it’s arthritis and what treatments are available to ease their pain and give them a better quality of life. For accidents and emergencies or more simple treatment of common conditions, like skin and ear infections, it’s well worth taking out a pet insurance policy. When you apply online to Petplan, you’ll receive a 10% discount.

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6. Your dog will sneak into your heart so you can’t imagine life without them

Before you have a dog, you might have wondered quite why dog owners were so besotted. Once you have your own dog, you can’t imagine how you lived without your most faithful and fun companion. That’s why you want to make sure your dog is healthy and happy throughout their life.

Covered For Life® Ultimate is the most comprehensive pet insurance policy from Petplan, offering first-class protection for you and your dog. It’s the ultimate in cover when nothing but the best will do.

Every dog deserves Petplan.