Basic Emotional Support Dog Care 101: How to Take Care of a Dog

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how to take care of a dog illustration of woman hugging her dog

Having a pet or emotional support animal (ESA) is an entirely mutually symbiotic relationship. It’s a “you wash my back and I’ll wash yours” kind of situation. So while your ESA is taking care of your emotional needs, companionship, and mental wellbeing, what should you be doing in return? Read on to learn about basic dog care!

Attention Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Parents! Are You Meeting Fido’s Needs? 

Dogs really ask for very little. Love, care, food, and water are the least you can do for man’s best friend. Dogs come in a variety of shapes and sizes and with their own personalities and needs.

All dogs have the basic need to be loved and cared for, mentally and physically, and it is up to you to make sure that all your Fido’s needs are met.

Make Sure You Check All These Dog Care Boxes to Keep Your Pet (and Their ESA Status)! 

Any individual with a diagnosed disability can legally qualify for an emotional support animal. To qualify, the person must be diagnosed by a licensed mental health professional (LMHP). People with ESAs are afforded certain privileges that normal pet owners don’t have, but those privileges (as well as the animal) can be taken away if they do not do right by the animal.

Being responsible for the life, health and happiness of an animal is a lifetime commitment and a big responsibility.

The 2 Federal Laws That Protect ESAs, and the Exceptions to These Rules! 

There are two federal laws that protect ESAs and their owners:

The Air Carrier Access Act

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) prevents discrimination against disabled individuals traveling by air. The ACAA allows ESA and Service animal owners to fly with their animals free of charge.

The law safeguards ESA owners against airlines refusing them and their ESA access. Airlines may not refuse them access on the basis that they have a disability.

The point of the ACAA is for people who have a genuine disability to be able to fly with their animals, but the protection this law provides ends the second there is any proof of an animal being neglected or abused.

The Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) allows individuals with an emotional support animal the right to residency without added fees and within “no pets allowed” accommodations.

Landlords may not discriminate against disabled persons, which includes those requiring emotional support animals in order to cope with mental disabilities.

But again, if there is proof of animal abuse or neglect, the ESA owner loses the protection of the FHA and risks being fined, charged with animal abuse or of having their animal confiscated by the authorities.

9 Basic Dog Care Tips 

basic dog care person giving labrador retriever food

Whether welcoming a new pet into your family or assigning one the status of an emotional support animal, there are basic dog care steps that any pet owner has to follow! If you can handle the following steps, your dog’s ESA status, as well as your dog ownership, are safe!

Dinner is Served: Food & Water 

Dietary requirements may change from pup to old dog, but quality food and fresh drinking water remain basic necessities. Puppies need 3 meals a day, whereas mature dogs need only two daily meals.

A Roof Over Their Head and A Spot by the Fire: Shelter 

It stands to reason that some breeds of dog may be more suited to living outdoors than others. The fact remains that a beloved companion should have the comfort they deserve. A spot by the side of their human is nothing more than heaven for man’s best friend.

Outdoor dogs should have a shaded place of their own, properly protected against the elements, wind, and rain. Dogs should not have to spend their days and nights on a bare floor. Doggy beds, blankets, and various kennels are available to provide them with comfort and security.

Of course, “shelter” also includes ease of access for the pup to go potty. House training is essential and the dog should always have the facilities to relieve itself in an acceptable “humane” manner.

When Chaos Arises: A Quiet, Safe Space 

Know your dog’s peculiarities and fears. It is not uncommon for dogs to be afraid of thunder, sirens, low flying aircrafts or any eventualities that come with loud noises.

Doggies should have a safe place to retreat to when they are insecure or afraid.

Mani-Pedis All Around! Grooming 

It is true that grooming is more essential for some breeds than others, but even the most basic of care is a must for every pooch. Dewclaws are often problematic. Clip the dewclaws well before they grown into the flesh and become painful.

Dirty matted hair, long nails, and grimy ears are big red flags indicating neglect. Every pet or ESA owner has to make sure their animal is routinely groomed. If you don’t have time to do it yourself, then you can outsource that task to someone else. It doesn’t really matter who does it, all that matters is that it gets done!

Vet Checks: Regular De-Worming and Tick & Flea Treatments 

Worm infestations in pups and adult dogs are quite normal and regular treatment is therefore mandatory. Worms can cause a myriad of health problems in dogs and spread easily to humans and other pets. It only takes popping a tasty pill a few times a year to keep your pooch worm-free. Broad spectrum doses are best, but if in doubt your vet will know what your dog needs.

A great many tick and flea treatments are now readily available to dog owners. When in doubt, your vet will be in a position to advise you on the best option for your dog according to its lifestyle and environment.

pet dogs dog happy that vet is checking its teeth

Keeping it Clean: Scoop That Poop 

In this day and age, there is really no excuse to leave puppy poop on the ground. Pooper scoops make life easy, as do the great variety of poop bags and depositories out there.

Make sure that you dispose of the scooped poop in an environmentally friendly way.

The Big Snip: Spaying and Neutering 

The upside of a rescue dog is that it alleviates the decision to spay or neuter since mandatory sterilization is all part of the package.

Pups should be ‘fixed’ as they are of age to ensure a healthier, longer life. Unless you want to use your dog for breeding, you should snip them as soon as they are old enough.

Snipping them early drastically reduces their chance of getting cancer, reduces dominant behavior, and of course, means that you don’t have to deal with all dogs going crazy when a bitch is on heat.

Who’s Who? Dog IDs and Microchips! 

Identify your dog! You may think your dog is safe in the yard and doesn’t need an ID, but here comes the “what if?”. What if your dog gets out of the yard? What if you get separated during an emergency? And what if they give you the slip during walkies? Your dog should always be wearing a collar and tag with your telephone number on it. It’s basic dog care.

Microchips go one step further. Pet microchips are not tracking devices but rather a permanent radio-frequency identification (RFID) implant that is not simply removable or easy to lose.

Physically Fit? Physical (and Mental) Stimulation 

Walk your dog. That is the very least you can do for your furbaby. Breeds who require more exercise than others absolutely need the outing for their all-around wellbeing. Do not however leave the less energetic breeds to their sedentary lifestyles of choice.

The notion that idle hands are the devil’s tools perfectly sums up the mischievous tendencies of a bored pet. Dogs that love to play ball should be appropriately entertained while the more sluggish doggy will benefit from a slow amble across a field or around the block. A fit Fido is a healthy and happy Fido.

Basic Items Every Dog Owner Should Have!

Some pups will quite simply be more spoilt than others, but these are must-haves for all homes with doggies:

  • Food and water bowls that are regularly cleaned.
  • Food.
  • Comfortable Collar. NO CHAINS!
  • A secure ID tag bearing easy to read and up to date contact details.
  • Dog bed and/or comfy kennel/doggy tepee.
  • Toys, such as a ball or chew toy.
  • Doggy treats and healthy chews.
  • Brush or comb.
  • Doggy shampoo and conditioner.
  • Nail clippers.
  • Environmentally friendly poop baggies or pooper scooper.

person using dog nail clippers to cut dogs nails

Love, Love, Love! Show Your Pooch How Much You Love Them Every Day! 

We all have our good and bad days, where we are more or less inclined to be nice and accept companionship. This is not an option when you have committed to loving a fur baby.

Your furry companion needs your love day in and day out, without exception. You are your dog’s entire world and their reason for existence. Don’t let them down by slacking on basic dog care!

Want Your Canine Companion Constantly by Your Side? CertaPet Can Help You Get Your ESA Letter!  

The constant companionship of an animal goes a long way in improving the day to day life of someone living with a mental or emotional condition or disability. By getting your ESA letter, you can rest assured that your furry friend can be at your side when you need them most.

CertaPet has made the process of getting an ESA letter extremely simple. Simply start by taking our free, online, 5-minute pre-screening. If your answers indicate that you may qualify for an ESA, we will put you in touch with a LMHP and you could have your ESA letter in as little as 48 hrs.

Common Questions on Basic Dog Care

Which common parasites does my pup need to be safeguarded against?

How often should my new puppy be fed? 

Why should dogs be spayed or neutered, is that basic dog care? 

How do I go about getting an ESA letter? 

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