Author, Your Dog The Owner's Manual (2011)
Known as "America's Veterinarian"
Resident veterinarian The Dr. Oz Show
Attended Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine
Wife, Teresa, Two Grown Children
Dr. Marty Becker: Your Dog: The Owner's Manual
The 700 Club
Dr. Marty Becker grew up on a dairy farm in Idaho with cows, chickens, pigs, dogs, and cats. As a young boy he was involved in helping to care for the animals on the farm. He recalls one of his first jobs was collecting eggs from the chickens. He found the task to go much faster if he walked into the coop and yelled, “Boo!” His dad caught him at this and let him know what he was doing would not fly. His dad meant it when he said to “treat the animals right.”
Another memory that cultivated Dr. Becker’s love of animals is when a veterinarian came out to their farm and brought back a downed cow from what seemed like near death with a simple infusion of what he called “sugar water.” He was hooked -- veterinary medicine was an obvious choice for Dr. Becker.
He grew up loving and respecting animals and the many ways they help people. “Animals, the people who love them, and the profession that cares for and about them both: these are the reasons I was put on this earth, I know,” reveals Dr. Becker.
As a veterinarian Dr. Becker helps pet owners keep their dogs healthy with preventive health care measures such as wellness exams, vaccinations, spaying/ neutering, and parasite prevention. However, many of the things that have owners bringing dogs to the veterinarian stem from problems that would never have happened if home care preventive measures were in place from the first day a dog or puppy comes home.
For years dogs helped us by herding our livestock, protecting our homes, pulling wagons or sleds, or helping us to hunt our dinners. Today few dogs earn their way or as Dr. Becker likes to say are “born retired.” Dogs nowadays tend to hang around with us at home. However, the dogs they once were are still in there and that means you have to figure out if you can live with who they are and find things for them to do if they aren’t the couch potato type. When dogs get bored and unhappy they can end up fat and sick before their time. Or, give your house an Unwanted Extreme Home Makeover.
Dogs need exercise – big ones and small ones. Make time for your dog. Lack of exercise is one of the main reasons dogs misbehave. In addition to walking your pet Dr. Becker suggests fetch, swimming, or toys that require dogs to work for small food rewards to get your dog exercised without you exhausting yourself.
Equally important is a simple dental cleaning or other daily oral health care regimen for your dog. This regimen can not only cure your dog’s halitosis it can also contribute to his longevity. Decaying teeth give bacteria an “in” to your pet’s body. Over time the bacteria can wear down your dog’s immune system, weaken his internal organs, and even infect his heart.
Over the years Dr. Becker says dogs have not changed that much, but our relationship with them has changed significantly. “We humans have had dogs in our lives for thousands of years, and in a single generation they’ve gone from the doghouse to the kitchen to the house to the bedroom to the bed,” shares Dr. Becker. He admits he and his wife bought the biggest bed they could because they needed more room for the dogs, Quixote and Quora.
Although he grew up around big dogs, farm dogs, and hunting dogs, he and Teresa are now crazy over the little ones. His family still owns a Golden Retriever, Shakira, but she will probably be the last of the big dogs at Almost Heaven Ranch, his ranch in Idaho. “We’re older, we love to travel, and we like having smaller, more portable dogs. One that can fit in the set between us or under the seat on the airplane,” shares Dr. Becker. Before you select a dog, know yourself.
The dog that is perfect for you may be a purebred or mix or an older dog instead of a puppy. Also, be prepared to spend some money on your pet. Research indicates the start up cost of adopting a dog is an average of about $1,000 (not including the cost for purchase) and about $700 a year for annual upkeep.
THE BREED’S NEEDS
Keep in mind your dog’s breed or breed mix (the predominant breeds in his family tree) when it comes to their diet, exercise, and grooming. For example, dogs with high maintenance coats – like poodles, cockers, and terriers – you need to consider grooming a regular part of your dog-care budget.
Larger dogs like labradors, retrievers, golden retrievers, and German shepherds have high incidents of joint disease. Choose a diet with added neutraceuticals such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate to help foster cartilage growth, and that is high in fatty acids to deter inflammation may help a dog live years longer without symptoms of arthritis. Small dogs are prone to painful and expensive dental problems. Choose foods with a more abrasive action to help scrape them clean as the pet chews.
Breeds with high exercise needs are border collies, shelties, kelpies, and German shepherds. These dogs were developed to herd livestock. Breeds and mixes with lower exercise needs are greyhounds, scottish deerhounds, and Irish wolfhounds who are happy in almost all environments.
For more tips, get our Free Fact Sheet: Secrets to Raising a Happy, Healthy Dog!
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