Caring for your dog: Everything you need to know     

Properly caring for a dog is an experience that enriches your life as well as that of your dog. Before welcoming a dog into your family, you should know how to properly care for your dog. Your dog needs to be cared for both physically and emotionally.This means providing them with quality food, healthcare, as well as happiness and safety. Below are some tips that will help you care for your 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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Feeding tips for your dog

Don’t overfeed your dog

You should avoid feeding your dog. Most people overfeed their dogs thinking that they are pampering them. This, however, has a negative impact on your dog’s health and happiness. Overfeeding your pup puts him at risk of obesity and the many complications that result from it such as joint diseases, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic abnormalities, and a lowered immune system, just to mention a few. 

Overweight dogs are also less active and are unable to run. This affects their happiness since they can’t participate in activities as much as they’d like. To avoid this, you should feed your pet the amount recommended by your vet and stick to the amount, even when your dog begs for more.  

Feed your dog high quality food

In addition to feeding your dog the right quantity of food, you should also feed him high quality food. You should always read the label of the dog food before buying. The primary ingredient should be meat. Quality dog food should be rich in protein. 

Alternatively, you could ask your veterinarian for quality dog food recommendations. They will steer you towards the best food for your pooch. They will also guide you on how much to feed the dog. 

Have a feeding schedule

You should have a regular feeding schedule for your dog. It is recommended that you feed your dog twice a day. Most dog food brands usually have the recommended amount you should feed your dog on a daily basis. You should portion the amount into two meals, with the first portion being fed to your dog in the morning and the second half in the evening. The feeding should be done at specific times to help establish a routine. This will make house training your dog much easier. Dogs usually have to relieve themselves 20 – 30 minutes after eating.

Avoid giving your dog plenty of treats 

Treats shouldn’t be part of your dog’s regular diet. Instead, you should only give your dog treats on occasion. Giving your dog plenty of treats can lead to weight gain and the various health problems associated with it. As a rule of thumb, you should only offer your dog treats when training him. This may be hard to follow, especially when your pup looks at you pleadingly with his cute puppy dog eyes, but you have to stick to the rule. 

Keep your dog away from human food

You should also keep your dog away from human food. Although foods such as chocolate, grapes, onions, avocadoes, raisins, and garlic may seem perfectly safe for humans, they are toxic to dogs and may cause serious health complications for your dog. As such, you should keep human food out of your dog’s reach. You should also be careful with candies and gum since many of them contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener which is toxic to dogs. 

You should avoid feeding your dog human food unless recommended by your veterinarian. Human foods such as plain rice, chicken, and pumpkin are safe, but they should be prepared without any spices. Your veterinarian may recommend these foods to help hide oral medication, or as training treats for your dog. In addition, you should not let your dog eat your leftovers or lick your dinner plate. 

Give your dog water

Apart from food, your dog also needs to drink water to survive. You should ensure that your dog has access to clean drinking water at all times. You should also change the water every day and clean the drinking bowl before giving him water. 

Health tips for your dog

Make annual vet appointments

You should get a good and reliable veterinarian for your dog. Dogs need regular check ups, so the vet should be able to interact well with your dog. You should also make annual appointments to have the vet examine your dog for any health complications and to provide you with personalized information that will help your pup live a healthy life. 

Get pet insurance

You should also make a point of getting pet health insurance for your dog. Emergencies and unexpected accidents can be very costly. Pet insurance helps to cover a majority of the unexpected costs, long term health conditions, prescription medications, and more. However, it is important to note that most insurance policies will cover most of the costs involved up to a certain limit. These limits and the monthly cost of insurance vary widely depending on the type of insurance. You should therefore do your research and investigate the various companies to see the level of coverage they provide and whether you can afford their monthly premium. 

Get your dog vaccinated 

You should get your dog vaccinated to protect your pet and yourself from deadly diseases such as rabies. There are several vaccinations which your vet will recommend depending on the diseases common in your area. The vaccinations are usually updated with regular booster injections, usually yearly or three-yearly, depending on the disease. 

Consider neutering your dog 

You should also consider neutering your dog. This helps to minimize the risk of certain health disorders such as pyometra (pus in the womb), and mammary cancer in females, and prostatic disease and aggression in males. 

In addition, neutering also prevents accidental breeding and pet overpopulation. That said, neutering your dog also increases the risk of cardiac problems, certain types of cancers, and thyroid problems. You should therefore consider this carefully. 

Deworm your dog regularly

You need to treat your dog regularly with basic worming to prevent parasites such as roundworms and heartworms which can harm your dog. The frequency of deworming varies depending on your dog’s lifestyle. Indoor dogs are at lower risk of picking up worms, and may only need deworming treatment twice or thrice a year. Hunting dogs, on the other hand, are at high risk of picking up worms and may need monthly deworming treatments. You should also use flea and tick preventative treatments. 

Brush your dog’s teeth

Most dog owners often overlook the importance of brushing their dogs’ teeth regularly. Taking care of your dog’s oral health will help you avoid expensive dental treatments in the future. You should use a special toothbrush and toothpaste made specifically for dogs. Your dog may resist at first, but with time, they will get used to it. 

Play with purpose

When playing with your dog, you should do so intentionally by doing things like touching their ears, mouth, feet, toes and nails. Doing so will help desensitize them to being touched in these areas. This will make them less resistant when trimming their nails or brushing their teeth. 

Looking in your dog’s mouth and ears during a positive play experience will make it easier for the vet to examine your dog during check ups, allowing them to spot any abnormalities with ease.

You should also make a point of touching your dog’s nose from time to time. The nose should feel wet. Healthy dogs have slightly wet noses since dogs sweat through their nose to cool down. A dry nose could indicate that your dog isn’t feeling well. 

Be prepared for emergencies 

Accidents and emergencies happen when you least expect it. It is therefore important to have an emergency plan in place for such situations. If you regularly take hikes or camp, you should have a first aid kit for your pet just to be safe

You should also have a plan for your dog should anything happen to you. Prepare a list of your dog’s feeding schedule, how much he is fed, his medication, and how to contact his vet. You should also make sure that you have someone who lives close-by that could look after your dog on short notice. 

You should also consider fitting your dog with an ID microchip. The microchip is injected under the skin over the shoulder blades. Each microchip is unique and has a number that is registered on a database with your contact details. In case your dog is stolen, the chip will be able to prove your ownership.  

Housekeeping tips for dog owners

Keep your trash secured

Dogs will eat almost anything. They are likely to be drawn to your trash and eat its contents. This puts them at risk of ingesting harmful, toxic, and indigestible substances in the trash. This could lead to expensive emergency procedures and surgeries for your dog. To avoid such a situation, always keep your trash secure.  

Ensure your dog is comfortable

Your dog should have a warm comfortable area in your home where he can easily take naps during the day. Make sure he has a comfortable place to sleep and is not left out in extreme weather conditions. You should also get him a bed, blanket, and some toys. Without proper protection from the elements, your dog could be in mortal danger. You should also make sure that your dog has a bow with lots of clean water. If you have a crate, you should leave the crate open, giving your dog the freedom to enter and leave it at will. This will help them recognize the crate as a safe space where they can rest.  

Keep household chemicals away

You should always keep household chemicals such as pesticides and cleaners out of reach from your dog. If not stored correctly, many dogs will try getting into these products. As such, you should always lock these products in a cabinet, out of reach from your dog. 

Wash your dog’s things regularly

You should always wash your dog’s bedding, blanket, and soft toys regularly. Washing them at least once a week reduces the amount of dirt, germs, and pollen present on your dog’s things. This is really helpful to your dog especially if he suffers from seasonal allergies. 

Tips for exercising, mental stimulation, and playing with your dog

Give your dog plenty of exercise

You should provide your dog with the right amount of exercise depending on his breed. With most small dog breeds a game of fetch is enough to tire them out. Large dog breeds such as labradors require more activity. They need good long walks for at least 40-45 minutes twice a day in order to burn out their energy. Alternatively, you could go for one long walk a day. Dog breeds like terriers, however, require plenty of exercise and never tire out. They are capable of running all day without tiring. As such, they need a ton of exercise in order to burn off excess energy. Leaving your dog unattended without exercise could result in behavioral problems such as excess barking, digging, and chewing. 

Challenge your dog mentally

Dogs need plenty of mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy. You should give your dog plenty of attention when playing games to keep him engaged. Teach your pup new tricks and give him a puzzle toy to challenge him mentally. A good puzzle toy should keep your dog entertained when you are unable to give him all of your attention.

Walk your dog regularly

Taking your dog on regular walks is good for both your dog’s health and happiness. Apart from preventing boredom, taking your dog for a walk helps your dog digest food better. It also helps your dog burn off excess energy, and keeps him at a healthy weight. Take your dog to run errands and to dog-friendly places. Switch up his toys to keep him mentally stimulated. 

Exercise together

Exercising with your dog is a fun way of staying healthy. Take him on a run, climb stairs, take him on an adventurous hike, try yoga, or try swimming. This will help you and your dog reap the benefits of exercise. 

Bonding

Be a friend to your dog

You should build a bond of mutual love and respect with your dog. Dogs are very affectionate to people who treat them well. Spend quality time with your dog and get to know what he likes. Get to know his personality and what he dislikes. Play games with him, give him treats, and attention.  

Be patient

It can be quite frustrating when your dog acts out or isn’t responding to a new training technique. With patience and some positive reinforcement, however, you should be able to make good progress. If you are feeling frustrated, you should take a break from training. Dogs are excellent readers of body language. If you are tense or angry,they won’t respond well to training. You should never hit your dog or abuse him in any way. A firm ‘No’ should be enough to stop them from misbehaving.  

Training

Use positive reinforcement

Potty training your dog can be difficult. Applaud your dog every time he goes outside to relieve himself. Cheering your dog on will encourage him to eagerly continue this behavior until it becomes a habit. Always have treats with you to reward your dog after they finish pooping or peeing somewhere you approve of. 

Encourage your dog with reward-based training

Just like people, dogs get bored and need mental stimulation. Stimulate your dog’s mind in the form of obedience training. Switch up rewards, treats, and praise. If your dog views training as a game instead of a scolding session, they’ll have more fun and you’ll get better results. 

You can use this method to teach your dog to sit, stay, and come when called. Training your dog one-on-one is more effective and it helps you to bond better with your dog. With reward-based training, no punishment is used. Positive behavior is rewarded with treats, pets, a clicker, or verbal praise. Bad behavior is simply ignored. Your dog will respond better to the different types of rewards through this process. 

Train your pup for 10-20 minutes twice a day depending on your dog’s concentration span. You should make an effort to end each training session on a positive note. In addition, you should remember not to overfeed your dog with treats. With patience and positive reinforcement, your dog will learn that if he wants a reward, he must do what you’ve asked of them. 

Consistency is key

When establishing house rules for your dog, consistency is key. You should stick with the same rules and training commands while training your dog. This will help prevent confusion and make training your dog much easier. You should also make sure that all members of your family agree to faithfully follow the rules to avoid confusing your dog or encouraging bad behavior.  

Correct bad behavior

Dogs have a short memory hence they won’t be able to correlate scolding with something bad they did five minutes ago. However, if you catch your dog in the act, you should reprimand him. That said, you should always give rewards and positive feedback right away to encourage good behavior from your dog.

Tips for caring for your dog during Winter

Moisturize your dog’s paws

Winter weather is cold and dry. The dry air can cause your dog’s paws to crack. Moisturizing your dog’s paws helps to prevent this. Moisturizer also helps to soothe painful paws after your dog has been outside in the cold. 

Limit the time your dog spends outside

When your dog spends long periods of time outside in chilly winter weather, they are at risk of getting frostbite in their paws, tails, and ears. You shouldn’t let your dog stay outside for a long time during winter even if he has a thick fur coat. When you start to feel cold, chances are that your dog is feeling chilled as well.

Beware of winter salt and ice

Winter salt is usually spread on roads and pathways to thaw the ice. The winter salt and ice can cause your dog’s paws to crack. Therefore, you should always wipe your dog’s paws whenever you get home from a walk. You should also make sure that your dog doesn’t lick the salt off his paws or from the ground. This could cause your dog to have stomach discomfort. Consider getting dog booties to protect your dog’s sensitive paw pads. They could also use them to keep warm around the house. 

Get your dog a sweater

Different dog breeds have coats of different thickness. Some have a double coat while others have a single coat. As such, not all dogs are equipped to brave the cold. Dog breeds with a light coat are at a higher risk of getting hypothermia. In addition to looking cute and adorable, such dogs could benefit from a sweater or coat during winter. Early signs of hypothermia include, shivering, ears and feet feeling cold to the touch, hair standing on end, rapid breathing, and increased urination. If your dog exhibits any of these signs, get him an extra layer of insulation. 

Tips for caring for your dog in the Summer

Never leave your dog in the car

You should never leave your dog unsupervised in the car. The temperatures inside the car can quickly become fatal in the summer. Even with the windows cracked, your pup can still easily succumb to heat stroke.

Ensure your dog has easy access to water

Your dog should have easy access to clean and fresh water. Dehydration is dangerous to dogs and can be fatal, especially during heat waves. Symptoms of dehydration include a dry nose, loss of appetite, or excessive panting. If you notice any of these signs, reach out to your veterinarian. 

Keep your dog cool

You should give your dog access to shade on a hot day. If your dog is outside, monitor him closely and if he is panting excessively, take him inside to prevent dehydration, stress, or heat stroke. 

You should also ensure that your dog isn’t walking on a hot surface since a dog’s paw pads are sensitive to heat. Avoid the hot ground. Instead, opt for grass or dirt paths when taking your dog out.  

Enjoy the journey!

Caring for a dog is a special and fulfilling experience. A dog will love you forever if you care for them. With the above tips, your dog will have a happy life. Good luck!

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