Helping Your Dog
Dog Care includes many aspects of looking after your best friend. A few are listed here.
Exercise Your Dog
It's very important to exercise... both for the dog's mind and body, every day. Some breeds need a tremendous amount of exercise like the Labrador Retriever, Vizsla, or Weimaraner, while others like the Pug and Pekingese don’t need much at all. Either way, dogs need to play, romp and walk to stay healthy. Exercise needs decrease as the dog grows older. Senior dogs need far less exercise than young ones.
Under exercised dogs get into trouble. They bark, dig, chew and get so frustrated they destroy the house and yard.
If you have a dog from an active group such at the herding, hound, hunting or sporting groups, or a mixed breed from those groups, you’ll need to give lots of exercise every day. A simple leash walk won’t do it. They need engaging fetch games, Frisbee, jogging or something else strenuous.
While out walking your dog, romping in the park and riding in the car, dog safety is always an important issue for any pet owner. Please take a moment to visit our page on dog safety.
Frisbee is great exercise for dogs!
Dog Care - Dog First Aid
One of the most important aspects of dog care is your dog's health and well being. Injuries and illness happen fast. Owners need to be prepared. Get some ideas of basic dog care and dog care and first aid on these pages.
Want a complete list of dog poisoning products? -- Things to keep out of reach of your dog or cat? How about house plants? There's a lot of harmful; stuff around the house and a glance at the page is a good idea.(Links opens new window)
Dogs need some degree of training. The bigger the dog and/or the more aggressive the nature of the dog, the more critical the training becomes. Dogs must be under control at all times!
Not all dogs learn at the same rate. Teaching a Dachshund, Pug, Bulldog or Bloodhound to “sit” or “down-stay” is enough to grow grey hair on a man. But, these dogs and others like them can and do learn basic obedience.
A Miniature Pinscher MUST be trained or you can’t live in the same house with him. Then you get a Poodle, Lab or Cairn Terrier and they’ll almost train themselves.
Regardless of the kind of dog, a well-behaved dog is a love to be with and an untrained dog can be a real nightmare. Either YOU do the training or you'll have to send the dog to a training camp, and they are not cheap.
If you have a puppy, you can put him in a starter training class once he has had his proper vaccinations.
There is plenty of simple training and behavior information on this website to assist you in doing the training yourself. You’ll save money. However, if you don't have the time or PATIENCE, (many people don’t) then contact your local SPCA, Humane Society or vet for a class to enroll your dog.
No matter how well trained your dog becomes, it should never be off your property with out a leash and someone holding the leash.
Nap Time - Do Not Disturb!
By all means give your dog time to himself! Teach the children to do the same. When you see your dog go off and lie down for a nap, LET HIM SLEEP! Don't go poking and running around where he is resting. Don't pet him.
There are times when a dog simply wants to be left ALONE to rest and be quiet, so be sure to recognize when he wants that and give it to him.
Your small dog may curl up on the sofa with you and doze off. Resist the temptation to pet him. He may look as cute as they come, and you're tempted, but let him sleep in peace. Read your newspaper and let your dog rest quietly. He needs "ME" time!
An Airedale Terrier brings the morning paper in the house.">
Grooming Your Dog
If you have a dog with long hair, be especially careful not to let the fur get matted and tangled. This can become painful for the dog and totally unnecessary. A little time brushing the dog will solve the problem. I've seen far to many matted dogs and have never understood WHY people ignore that basic dog care item.
Generally, dogs don’t need many baths. There will be a section on this site dealing with bathing your dog, but that comes later.
A freshly groomed
Cocker Spaniel puppy is ready for a bath.
Four baths a year are usually enough so this is the least of your dog care worries. Many dogs love water and like to run in lawn sprinklers or jump into the kid’s pool. Some, like retrievers, swim in lakes, rivers and the ocean when given the chance.
Brushing a dog is a good thing and should be done often, based on the breed and haircut. If you have a long-haired dog, she should be combed and brushed from twice a week to daily, especially when shedding. The Yorkie, for example, needs grooming daily as does the Pekingese unless you have them trimmed short.
Short-haired dogs that shed a lot like the Pug and Bloodhound need brushing three or four times a week (or more) to remove dead hair. Besides, most dogs enjoy the extra attention when they get brushed.
Australian Shepherd on the left and a
Belgian Sheepdog on the right out for their morning jog.
These are Chinese Hairless Crested's doing whatever.
Toenails are all the grooming needed for these guys!
A tricky but necessary part of grooming is trimming toenails. If your dog spends a lot of time on cement and asphalt, trimming will only need doing once every few months or less and generally only on the front paws. There are special toenail clippers for this job available at pet stores. Always have an ultra-sharp pair on hand.
I sit next to the dog and turn his paw upwards at the knuckle. That’s easiest for me, as I’m left handed. If it’s a small dog, I just turn the dog over on her back.
Be VERY careful cutting. Each nail has a blood vessel and vein inside. If you cut too far down, you’ll hit that vein. It’s hard to stop the bleeding and very painful to the dog! I only trim the ends of the nail a little.
Note: if you go into this with fear, the dog will pick up on your fear and squirm like crazy. They can sense your anxiety and react, so relax or have a professional groomer do it. The main thing is, DON'T cut into the quick of the nail!, but, by all means, do keep the front nails trimmed. The back nails pretty much take care of themselves.
"This Westie says "No you can't cut my toenails!
You hurt me the last time you did them!!!"
Lifting A Dog
Pick up small dogs by placing one hand under the dog's chest with your fingers between her front legs and your other hand on her hind end with your hand folded slightly under the hind end and pushing the back legs slightly forward. This works for any small dog or puppy.
Never pick small dogs or puppies up by the legs, tail or neck.
Pick up a large dog in a similar fashion. One hand and arm under his chest, other hand and arm supporting the rear end from underneath. NOT by the legs or tail.
"Get my teeth way in the back, too!"
Your Dog’s Teeth
This idea of brushing a dog’s teeth and concern over dog-breath has only surfaced in the past decade or so and is not an important part of dog care. There are special chew toys available that are supposed to help remove dental plaque but don’t do enough. Harmful bacteria still form.
When enough time passes, the dog has to see the vet and undergo anesthesia to have a complete dental cleaning. The cost is several hundred dollars as I recall.
It’s in style today to clean your dog’s teeth yourself. Pick up some doggie toothpaste from your vet or pet store and a child's toothbrush, or even better, some plain gauze pads. Do NOT use human toothpaste.
Wrap the gauze around your finger and with a little toothpaste, work on one tooth at a time. Be sure to get all the way around each tooth. The toothpaste is made for dogs so she’ll like it without a fuss. Gently rinse the mouth. If you detect any loose teeth, or see any sign of redness in the gum, take your dog to the vet right away as this could be the sign of something serious. Brush the teeth twice a month.
Spay and Neuter
A cute puppy listens as he hears the VET say, "Please spay or neuter ALL pets to reduce our animal overpopulation crisis!"
The only cure to the millions of dogs killed every year due to overpopulation is spaying and neutering.
Some dog owners are reluctant to spay and neuter their dogs. Men have told me outright they won’t take the masculinity away from their pet, period. No real reason, they just will not do it. Good dog care suggests otherwise.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, most puppies can be spayed or neutered as early as 2 months and certainly by 6 months.
Females need to have the spay operation done by 6 months for several reasons:
- Prevention of breast cancer (mammary tumors)
- Removal of the ovaries and uterus greatly reduces the risk of uterine cancer later in life. When you spay you eliminate the risk of very costly, risky surgery. I know first hand, $2900 worth!
- You also eliminate spotting all over the house twice a year when the bitch goes into heat.
Neutering a male at 2 months or 6 months of age (or anytime) makes him
- More docile, easier to handle.
- Not as likely to roam and chase other dogs.
- Prevents prostate and testicular cancer and other diseases, certain hernias.
This dog is only PLAYING dead. Heartworm is serious and can kill the dog.
This is a killer disease, a parasite that lives in the heart and is passed from dog to dog by mosquitoes. You can control it with a once-a-month heartworm pill such as Interceptor or whatever your vet prescribes. Depending on where you live, you’ll probably give the pill monthly and all year. it's extremely important.
See your vet every spring for a heartworm test, as this disease is fatal if not checked. There may be some climates where the pill can be given only in “mosquito season,” but to be safe, most vets will tell you to give it all year. It is important to remember to see the vet each year. Heartworm is a silent killer.
There is an easy way to give your dog the heartworm pill, regardless of what type the vet prescribes. A product on the market and in pet stores called “Pill Pockets” by Greenies is available. It comes either for tablets or capsules. Actually, this works for ANY medicine you need to get into your dog. It’s simple, very effective and your dog thinks she’s getting a treat. (They smell like bacon.)
A young Weimaraner is checked for ticks
and general health. Look for ticks daily.
Fleas and Ticks
Dog care eliminates itching and scratching by providing topical medicine to control them. Fleas and ricks are dangerous. As an owner, you must control the problem.
You can find fleas and ticks just about anywhere in the United States except the Mojave Desert. That’s a lot of real estate. There are numerous products you can apply directly to your dog’s skin that will keep the varmints away such as Frontline Plus or K9-Advantix. They ward off fleas and ticks really well. The product is applied to the dog’s skin (between the shoulders.) once a month.
You still need to check your dog frequently, especially for ticks, as one can sneak into the ear or the front armpit for example, even with the medicine. I've even found them under the chin and on the temple.
We have our two dogs and between the heartworm medicine and flea and tick medicine, the cost adds up. To save money, we get a prescription for the heartworm medicine and order a 6 months supply of everything at one time from 1-800 PetMeds.
The order is delivered to our door quickly, at a discount, and free shipping. When we go back to re-order in 6 months, our order is in Internet memory and already made up. All we do are a couple of mouse clicks and the new order is on it’s way. Pretty neat.
Buy a leather or nylon collar that buckles and FITS your dog. If you have a puppy, you will likely buy a bigger collar later. The point here is that there are to be NO CHAINS AND NO ILL-FITTING COLLARS ON DOGS!
I've seen the Humane Society on Animal Planet have to use bolt cutters to remove seriously embedded tow chains from the necks of dogs that were chained up in back yards. What kind of dog care is that? Fortunately, the owners were arrested, fined and taken to jail.
Your dog should wear a collar that is loose enough on his neck to allow you to insert several fingers with ease, but not allow him to slip out. If you have a small dog that has a tracheal collapse such as the Yorkshire Terrier, use a harness that goes around the dog’s body and does not put pressure on the throat.
No dog born needs a heavy chain around his neck.
As the dog grows, check the collar and make sure it continues to fit him properly.
People tend to forget this and many dogs are found with collars embedded in their necks that have to be surgically removed. This is pure animal cruelty and there is no excuse for it.
Slip collars are only for training purposes and if you use a clicker, you don’t really need the slip collar, often called a “choke collar.”
The Weimaraner puppy gets a rabies vaccination.
Yes, dog care includes health. Every dog must have a rabies vaccination. Laws vary in different states so ask your vet to learn what applies where you are. Ask your vet what other shots your dog MUST have. I emphasize must, because I think we might be over-vaccinating our animals in general.
There is a 5 in 1 vaccination for puppies given once each at age two, three and four months old and then again at a year old.
This is supposed to protect her from distemper, Para influenza, hepatitis, parvovirus and one or two other life threatening doggie illnesses. This is understandable, but once all this is out of the way, have a serious talk with your vet and see just how much more the dog really needs besides the customary rabies shot.
If you travel and leave your dog in a boarding kennel, s/he will need a Bordetella vaccination about a month before you leave to prevent Kennel Couch, a serious illness that may occur while in the kennel.
Dog care doesn't end here. This page will be added to during the coming months. Please bookmark the site and come back!
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