Today is National Dog Day. According to the ASPCA, there are 70-80 million dogs owned as pets in 37-47% of US households. That’s a lot of canine companionship. About 40% of pet dogs are obtained through word of mouth. About 28% of dogs are purchased from breeders, and the rest are likely adopted through shelters, with some coming to families as strays, too. Estimates for stray dogs and cats in the US is not a precise number, but good guesses range to about 70 million animals.
A female dog, on average, produces one litter of 4-6 puppies per year. Dog owners are quite responsible about preventing unwanted litters with 83% of pet dogs being spayed, but the number could be higher with better pet parent education. The cost of spaying or neutering a dog is cheaper than a year’s worth of care for raising a puppy.
According to the American Kennel Club, the Labrador Retriever continues to be the most popular dog in the US. This breed continues to lead the popularity charts for the 24th consecutive year. Labs are known to be intelligent and friendly. The Bulldog is in strong competition for the first place trophy, though. It has been getting closer to the Lab for several years, and some dog experts say it may overtake the lab by next year as the most popular breed. Bulldogs make excellent family pets because they are kid friendly, gentle, great companions, easy to care for, and don’t require excessive exercise.
German Shepherds are ranked at second or third depending on which statistics you read, followed by Golden retrievers, beagles, Yorkshire terriers, boxers, poodles, Rottweilers and dachshunds. When choosing a family dog, people look for animals that are child friendly, laid back in personality, easy to care for, and have modest exercise requirements.
One of the best gifts you can give your dog for National Dog Day is to schedule Fido’s annual physical exam with your vet. You see your dog all the time, but since a professional sees Fido less frequently, and they are trained to see patterns in animals, they are the best source to maintaining a normal animal’s best health. The vet will make sure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date, particularly the rabies vaccination. Current vaccination status is required of dogs in most states to be licensed. A licensed dog is a safe dog. If lost, the license will be an easy way for Fido to be returned to you. If your dog isn’t licensed you can be fined, which will cost more than the license. Check with your local municipality office or specific licensing requirements or your area.
In addition to vaccinations, an dog’s annual exam includes a check for parasites such as fleas or worms, a dental health check up, a nutrition and exercise check to make sure Fido is getting proper food and exercise for his age and health status, a check of eyes, ears, stomach and bely to make sure these vital organs have o problems, a breathing and heartrate check, a check of feet and legs, coat and skin, and most likely a blood test to check for normal chemical balances and heartworm. Some vets perform more intensive exams depending on the dog or any suspected issues. The annual check up wil help insure that Fido lives a long and healthy life.
Older dogs (usually over age 6) may be screened as a preventative measure for cholesterol, blood pressure, kidney disease, diabetes, and other ailments associated with aging. Early detection and treatment are the best ways to keep your dog healthy.
So celebrate today with your dog by spending some extra pampering time, play time, or a new toy or bone to chew. Fido’s unconditional love is well worth it.
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