Daily & General Care Tips for Dogs
Caring for your dog on a daily basis is a hugely rewarding experience. Your dog will forever be your best friend if you know how to tend to his needs and ensure that he has an enjoyable and active life with you. Daily care of a dog is a lot more than just feeding and walking. You will also need to know how to groom your dog properly as well as know the signs to look for that could indicate a potential health problem.
Know How to Check for Signs of Illness
You should always be thinking about your dog’s health. It is important that you know how to check for signs of illness and that you are fully aware of common dog and puppy health problems. If you are ever worried about your dog’s general health, contact your vet to either arrange an appointment or to simply ask questions over the phone.
In the case of an accident, illness or emergency it is very reassuring to know that your dog is always covered with a pet insurance plan. Search around to find the most suitable plan for your dog and consider making the investment, otherwise you might find yourself in a difficult situation later on in your dog’s life.
Set a Daily Routine
- Dogs like to go to the toilet as soon as they wake up, so make sure that you go outside with him as soon as you come downstairs. Introduce a bit of playtime once he has done his business, and maybe bring a couple of his favourite toys out with you to keep his attention.
- If you have decided to feed your dog two meals a day, this is the perfect time to give him his breakfast.
- About half an hour after your dog has finished eating, take him outside for a brisk walk and another opportunity to go to the toilet. Typically dogs like to go to the toilet between 10 and 30 minutes after they have eaten. Adult dogs are better at holding it in, but puppies can really struggle.
- Now's the time when you either allow your dog to settle and rest just before you leave for work, or allow him to explore and amuse himself with some interactive toys as you get things done.
- Ideally, most dogs would love for you to return home during your lunch break so that they can be let out to go to the toilet and spend some quality time exercising, playing and bonding with you. Replace your dog’s water for a fresh clean bowl. If you have a puppy, this is the best time to give him his midday meal.
- At the end of the day, as soon as your return home from work, offer your dog a fresh, clean bowl of water. Now is also the best time to give your puppy or older dog his evening meal. Shortly after he has finished eating, take him outside to use all of the energy he has built up throughout the day. You can use this time to do some training - such as training to fetch, heel, come/recall, sit, stay, lie down.
- Your dog will want to relieve himself one more time before he goes to bed. Take him outside to go to the toilet, but don’t offer any play. You dont want to get him too excited, otherwise you might struggle to get him to settle for bedtime. As you invite your pup back inside, reward calm behaviour so that he knows that it is time to rest.
Tip: The most effective method of teaching a dog to calm or settle is crate training.
Feeding Your Dog or Puppy
Dogs love to eat. And eat… And eat… And many would eat all day if they could, but overfeeding does not do a dog any favours. A healthy dog is a happy dog, which is why it is so important that you feed them a balanced diet. It might be very tempting to give your dog an extra helping or a few extra treats, but your dog will love you much more in the long run if you keep him healthy. Partner up what you are feeding him with plenty of exercise and your dog will live to a ripe old age.
How Often Should You Feed Your Dog?
As your dog begins to mature into an adult at around 9 months you must think about how often you are going to feed him. Most dogs are fed twice a day, one small meal in the morning and one in the evening. Typically, larger dogs are fed one large meal towards the end of the day. Remember that dogs find assurance in routine, so once you have decided when you are going to feed your dog make sure that you stick to it.
How Much Should You Feed Your Dog?
A lot of dogs share a common love for food and some breeds more than others can be particularly greedy. For this reason we can’t just let our dogs eat as much as they like, but it does make knowing how much to feed your dog rather tricky. Your vet will be able to tell you the typical amount of food that is required for your dog’s breed and size, and you can always follow the guidelines on the packaging of your dog’s food. But you should still regularly monitor your dog’s weight and then change how much you are feeding accordingly. Depending on the size of your dog, you can use a set of bathroom scales by weighing yourself first and then weighing yourself holding the dog (the difference in weight is equal to the weight of your dog). Or if you are unsure or unable to weigh your dog then speak to your vet to organise a regular check up and weighing session.
Use a Measuring Cup
Dog obesity is on the rise with many of our dogs becoming more at risk to health problems like diabetes, cancer and liver disease. The extra weight will also take its toll on your dog’s bones - those with canine hip dysplasia, luxating patella, intervertebral disc disease or other orthopedic diseases will certainly feel the full force of the extra weight.
How Much Should You Feed a Puppy?
To give them the best start in life it is important to give puppies the right amount of food. A good breeder or shelter will be able to recommend a suitable food for your new puppy. It is always a good idea to follow their advice because puppies have sensitive stomachs which can be upset if their diet is changed, so stick to the food they are used to for the first week or so. After this time you can slowly change the diet. A puppy will need feeding little and often, usually four to six times a day. This helps to keep its energy levels fairly constant, and is a lot easier for the puppy to digest than two large meals a day. In general, follow the recommendations on the back of the dog food packet. You may need to adjust how much you are feeding your dog by monitoring its weight and body shape. You should be able to feel your puppy’s ribs but you shouldn't be able to see them clearly. Your puppy should also have a visible waist when you look at him from above. This is an accurate way of deciding if you are over or under feeding your puppy for all breeds and sizes.
Choosing The Right Dog Food For Your Dog
Some dogs will eat absolutely anything - including the contents of the rubbish bin. This is why we can’t leave the decision up to them and must give them a healthy, balanced diet. There really is a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to commercial dog foods. Choose a dog food that suits your dog’s lifestyle and always go with the best dog food that you can afford. Make sure that you choose a dog food that has a healthy balance of nutrients and provides the correct amount of energy for the size and exercise requirements of your dog. You can choose between a range of dry dog food, wet dog food, diet dog food and even natural or homemade dog food, but what matters most is that you provide a consistent healthy meal for your dog so that he can grow and be active.
Dry Dog Food
- Dry food tends to be less expensive and is usually bought in higher quantities, meaning less trips to the supermarket
- Storing dry food is very easy, it’s shelf life is extremely long
- It cleans teeth better than wet food by removing plaque
- Dry dog food can be used as an effective training treat
- The moisture content in dry dog food is much lower than in wet dog food - older or ill dogs benefits from having the extra moisture content
Wet Dog Food
- Wet food tends to have higher-quality protein and few preservatives and fillers.
- Wet food tends to have fewer calories and carbohydrates
- It's better for dogs with delicate gums, missing teeth, poorly aligned jaws or smaller mouths
- It can be a good source of hydration, especially for dogs who don’t drink enough
- The shelf life of opened canned dog food is very limited
- Wet dog food doesn’t clean dog’s teeth like dry dog food does, so it may not be best for dogs who are prone to developing tooth problems
When you feed your dog always make sure that you provide a bowl of fresh, clean water. A dog that is fed on dry food will need more water after he has eaten than one that is fed on wet food due to the higher water content of wet dog food.
Drinking Water for Dogs
How Much Should Dogs Drink?
Your dog must be provided with a fresh, clean bowl of water at all times. After exercise and in hot weather your dog will be very thirsty, so it is vital that his bowl is always topped up. If you decide to feed your dog dry food then he will desperately want a drink once he has cleaned his bowl.
There is no standard amount of water that a dog should drink, some dogs tend to drink a lot and others aren’t too fussed, but it is important that you know how much your dog drinks, to see if it changes. If you notice that your dog is drinking far more or less than he usually does it is best to contact your vet.
Should a Dog Drink Water if it is Being Sick?
Only offer your dog small amounts of water if he is vomiting. Allowing him to drink as much as he likes will cause further vomiting and your dog will lose vital fluids and nutrients.
Bladder Infection: It is important to note that if your dog has a urinary infection then you should encourage him to drink regularly. It's true that you can't force a dog to drink, but if fresh cool water is always available, he'll be happy to lap it up.
Keeping Your Dog Clean
Bathing Your Dog
Try to make bath time enjoyable and relaxing for both you and your dog by finding a way to make it fun and familiar. Get your dog used to having a bath as early as you can and don’t make it a scary experience otherwise your dog is never going to want to get in.
Tip: Allow him to play with his favourite toys first and then bring them into the bath with him. Giving treats along the way will reassure him that he is doing well.
- The water should only be lukewarm, and invest in a rubber mat so that your dog feels confident on his feet and prevents slipping.
- Using either a shower head or a plastic jug, cover your dog in water. Remember that he is going to attempt to shake dry more than a few times, so be prepared to get wet.
- Once you have got your dog wet from head to tail begin to apply the shampoo. Start applying it at the neck and finish at the tail. Massage the shampoo deep into his coat, but avoid getting it near his eyes, ears or mouth.
- Rinse his coat thoroughly as it will take a long time to get all of the shampoo out. Try not to leave any shampoo in the coat as it may cause irritation.
- Towel dry your dog’s coat, but make sure that you are not too aggressive. Alternatively, use a hair dryer on a low temperature. You will have to get your dog used to the sound of the hair dryer first.
Grooming Your Dog
Grooming is a fantastic way to show your dog that you love him. Your pup will love the attention and you will increase the bond you have with him. Brushing helps to keep the coat and skin healthy by removing dead hair and spreading natural oils, whilst caring for your dog’s teeth, ears and eyes reduces the risk of developing diseases. When grooming your dog always check for lumps, bumps, fleas and ticks.
Depending on what coat type your dog has, the types of brushes needed to groom your dog will differ.
- A Slicker Brush - This brush has lots of fine, short wires close to each other on a flat surface. They are used on dogs with medium to long haired coats and are good at removing dead hair and stimulating the skin and coat.
- Rakes Or Combs - Used to penetrate thick hair to detangle and remove the undercoat. Make sure the combs teeth are roughly the same length as your dog's coat to ensure it reaches the undercoat but is not too long that the teeth irritate the skin.
- Bristle Brush - These are used to remove dirt and debris from the coats of short and smooth haired dogs. They can be used on longer haired dogs but are not as effective. Choose thicker more coarse bristles for coarse coats and widely spaced bristles for longer coats.
- Pinhead Brush - These brushes are useful for brushing out tangles in longhaired, curly haired dogs and dogs with undercoats.
- Grooming Mitt - A glove or a mitt that has rubber pimples on it. These are used on short haired dogs to remove dead hair, massage and stimulate the skin.
- A Mat Rake - A tool specifically used to tease out mats without breaking or damaging the hair.
- A De-Shedder Tool - Removes the dead undercoat when your dog is moulting.
- Nail Clippers - You can use guillotine or scissor type clippers. Guillotine clippers tend to be easier to use.
How Can You Tell if Your Dog is Overweight?
We love our dogs no matter how they look, but if your dog is getting more barrel like by the day then now is the time to start doggy slimming. On a serious note, if your dog is overweight it is actually quite important for his health that you make a few changes to his lifestyle. Obesity can lead to all sorts of health problems, most commonly back problems. Other weight induced problems include diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, difficulty breathing, increased risk of cancer and a dramatically decreased quality of life. If you think that your dog is getting a bit on the portly side, here are a few easy checks that you can do yourself.
- Check your dog’s ribs. You should be able to feel them fairly easily, but you should not be able to see them very clearly from a distance. There should only be a very thin layer of fat covering them.
- Inspect your dog from above. His waist should be clearly visible, but you should not be able to see any protruding bones.
- Look at your dog from the side. His abdomen should be tucked up, and there shouldn’t be any excess fat hanging down.
A healthy Flat Coated Retriever with a clear abdominal tuck
An obvious sign of an overweight dog is an excess of fat covering the dog’s ribs or tail bones. This will be visibly apparent, but you can also check this very simply by examining your dog’s body with your hands. Something to note is that bitches are more susceptible to obesity than males, but in general you should always keep an eye on your dog’s health. Breeds that are most likely to become overweight include the Basset Hound, Beagle, Boxer, Bulldog, Dachshund, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Newfoundland, Pug and the Rottweiler. Pay close attention to the food intake and the weight of these breeds in particular to avoid obesity.
Note: Closely monitor the weight and food intake of a dog that has just been neutered, as they can be at high risk of becoming overweight.
How to Reduce Your Dog's Weight
Giving your dog less food might sound very obvious, but it's usually the best place to start. Begin by reducing the amount of food you are giving your dog by only a small amount. Don’t reduce your dog’s meal sizes dramatically, but make sure that he is eating less. You don’t want to upset your dog by halving his food intake, this is not the correct way to make your dog lose weight. Ensure that he is not being given any scraps at the table, and make sure that he is not stealing food when he is unsupervised. Make sure that all of your family know that you are trying to reduce your dog’s weight, otherwise you might be confused when your dog doesn't actually make any progress.
A healthy and happy Afghan Hound lying down on the grass
Giving Your Dog More Exercise
The next step is to take your dog for more frequent and interesting walks. If you are able to walk your dog off the lead in a safe place then he will get more exercise. Call him back every so often and given him a healthy snack as a reward so that he covers more distance. Your vet will be able to suggest some very tasty, yet healthy reward treats. Professional training is always available if you struggle to recall your dog off the lead. If you are not able to let your dog off the lead, ensure that your walks are significantly longer so that he gets enough exercise. Your vet will be able to tell you how much exercise your dog should be getting. It will vary dramatically depending on your dog’s size and ability.
Swimming is also a very effective method of helping your dog to lose weight. It is said that a five minute swim can be the equivalent of a five mile walk on a lead. It also helps to increase your dog’s strength, as well as lowering his body fat and increasing the flexibility in his joints.
All dogs love excercise!