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Dog Care: Basics to know when caring for a dog

If you’ve been fortunate enough to own a dog, you know the commitment it takes to care for one, however, if you’re new to owning a dog, it’s important to understand all that goes into basic dog care. Caring for a dog is one of the most rewarding experiences there is and while it’s not difficult, there are a number of things to keep in mind when it comes to caring for your dog.

Feeding

Good nutrition is vital for all dogs at any age. Puppies require smaller meals about 4 times per day but as the puppy gets older, this number can be reduced until the dog reaches the one-year mark. Once a dog has reached his first birthday, 1-2 meals per day is sufficient. For medium to large sized dogs, feeding two smaller meals that are evenly spaced throughout the day is typically best especially if they are prone to bloating.

A premium-quality dry food provides a well-balanced diet for adult dogs and to add a little extra flavor, add a bit of water, broth or even a bit of canned dog food. Puppies will benefit from a premium-quality puppy food that is suited to their size.

Avoid feeding your dog a lot of “human food.” Some food that is healthy for humans can be toxic for dogs and puppies, such as grapes, raisins, avocados, chocolate and others. It’s important to be well acquainted with foods that dogs should not have and make sure that those foods are kept well out of your dog’s reach to guard against accidental ingestion that can be harmful.

Exercise

Just like people, dogs benefit from regular exercise. It helps them maintain a healthy weight and helps to relieve boredom which can lead to destructive behaviors. Daily walks are a great way to fulfill your dog’s need for exercise (and yours too) but supervised games of fetch and chase are other great ways to keep your dog fit both physically and mentally. The specific needs can vary based on the age and size of your dog, and brachycephalic dogs, dogs with pushed in noses, do better with shorter, more frequent walks throughout the day.

Grooming

Grooming is an important part of basic dog care. A reputable and experienced dog groomer is always a great option, but if cost is an issue, then do-it-yourself grooming is a great option too. An important point to remember is that all dogs need to be bathed more than just a few times per year. If your dog has longer hair then regular brushing is important to keep their coats shiny and to reduce shedding. During warm weather, it’s important to check for fleas and ticks regularly. If you have questions about grooming your dog, a great place to start is to research the specific breed you have and learn important grooming tips for that breed. If you use a kennel regularly for doggie-daycare, they will often offer complimentary grooming for your dog and some veterinarian offices will offer grooming along with boarding.

Vet Care

If you have a puppy, your puppy will require regular vet visits during his first year of life. Once your puppy reaches adulthood, a yearly vet visit is important to keep vaccinations current. If you suspect that your dog is sick, call your vet promptly and never give your dog any medication unless it has been prescribed by your vet. If you suspect that your dog has fleas, consult your vet for their recommended flea treatment.

Spaying & Neutering

Female dogs should be spayed and male dogs neutered by six months of age.

Licensing & Identification

Make sure that your dog’s license is attached to his collar and that his collar is on at all times, especially if you are away from home. The license is the means by which your dog can be returned to you if he should get away from you for any reason. Another great way to ensure that your dog can be returned to you is to ask your vet to implant a microchip just under their skin. Many lost dogs have been returned to their rightful owners thanks to the microchip.

Cleaning up after your dog

Make sure that the area where your dog stays is cleaned on a regular basis. Dogs are actually very clean animals and, just like people, appreciate a clean area in which to live. Also, make sure that you clean up after your dog when you’re away from home.

Dog Supply Checklist

Finally, here’s a great list to keep handy to make sure your dog has everything he needs.

  • Premium Quality dog food and treats
  • Food and water dish
  • Toys
  • Brush & comb for grooming, toothbrush
  • Leash, collar and ID tag
  • Crate
  • Dog Bed

We hope you have found this article helpful. Is there anything you would add to our dog care basics list? Let us know in the comments below.

ASPCA referenced for this article

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