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Dog care is about 70% common sense and 30% knowledge/experience.
If you want to take good care of Fido and help him to live a long, happy and healthy life, you'll need both of the above.
I can't provide the common sense (I'm just going to trust that you've got that nailed down already), but I CAN help you with that extra 30%.
This page takes a look at all aspects of taking care of your dog properly and will make sure that you find the answers to the questions and issues that you might run into.....
Plus, you'll find links to articles/pages which cover just about everything you'll ever want to know about caring for your dog.
The dog care topic which causes us the most worry and stress is Fidos' health.
Whether it's illness, accidents, parasites, poisoning and more, our dogs health is one of our most important responsibilities.
Good preventative veterinary care, including regular check-ups, vaccinations and de-worming, can prevent a lot of heartache and expense.
BUT... puppy shots won't protect him for life and Fido still needs his booster vaccinations, often annually.
Some of the vaccines your veterinarian uses may be effective for three years, so these shots don't need to be re-administered annually.
Ask your vet about this when your dog has his yearly exam.
Preventing parasitic infection is also hugely important part of dog health care.
Both external parasites ( such as fleas/ticks and skin mites) and internal parasites (such as intestinal worms or single-cell organisms such as Giardia or Coccidia protozoa) can cause severe problems if left untreated.
These can include allergic reactions, stomach upset, anemia, dehydration, even organ damage and, in severe cases, death.
Every breed of dog is predisposed to certain types of illnesses, injuries or chronic conditions.
Large and giant breeds may have joint/bone issues or heart problems. Small breeds can suffer from hypoglycemia and luxating patellas (knee problems).
Allergies affect many, many dogs but some breeds are more at risk than others.
A well-balanced nutritious diet and proper veterinary care can help to minimize canine health problems, and getting treatment started at the first sign of trouble is important.
That's why your dog care responsibilities include regular vet check-ups for Fido and a setting up a vet visit if you're concerned or worried about anything.
Keeping Fidos' teeth clean and white, and his breath fresh, isn't just about his good looks and sweet smell.. it's important to his overall health too.
Feeding a good nutritious diet, choosing appropriate toys and supervising play are also part of your dog dental care responsibilities.
There are several common warning signs that might mean your dog is having some problems with his teeth. These can include:
If you notice one or more of these, or you see any swelling/bleeding of his gums, broken/decayed/loose teeth, have your veterinarian check out his mouth asap.
No matter how careful we are in caring for our dogs, accidents can (and do) happen.
Running on uneven ground can cause a bone break or ligament tear, as can a too-high leap/jump.
Although dog pregnancy and whelping isn't usually considered an accident or emergency (well, the pregnancy might be accidental of course, if you haven't spayed or neutered your dogs), problems can arise and progress quickly.
Whether it's getting into a dog fights being in a car accident or being hit by a moving vehicle or, for tiny breeds, even being stepped on or caught in the door, these can all cause injuries which need treatment.
Having the right dog first aid supplies handy can make a scary situation less traumatic.
Sometimes your dog may need short-term pain relief for a minor issue, in that situation aspirin can be useful, but it's VERY IMPORTANT to give the correct dosage. Check out this page for the info. you need.. Aspirin for Dogs
Many human medications, including pain killers, are NOT suitable for dogs, and I strongly recommend talking to your veterinarian before giving Fido any type of medication (even OTC products).
For information on both prescription and over-the-counter pain medications for dogs, check out this page... Pain Medication For Dogs.
If your dog is seriously hurt, you suspect internal injuries, or he's showing ANY signs of illness/disease or real distress, get him to a veterinarian right away.
Do not try to treat, or medicate, him yourself.
What you feed your dog doesn't just affect his weight.
It has an impact on his overall health, activity level, even how long he lives.
So, an important part of our dog care duties is choosing a diet that is appropriate for our individual dog.
Not all dog food formulas suit every dog. In order to get a good nutritional 'fit' you need to choose a diet based on your dogs....
Choose only a premium quality dog food because generic, low-grade foods don't deliver the nutrition Fido needs.
A poor diet can even cause health problems, including the increasingly common issue of dog food allergies.
There are many pages on this site which cover feeding your dog:
Contrary to that old wives' tale it IS very possible to 'teach an old dog new tricks'... and training is a very important part of dog care.
It simply takes more time, repetition and patience to train an adult dog than it does to train a puppy.
We humans learn more quickly when we're children, but even as adults we are learning and refining our knowledge and abilities every day. So are dogs.
Dogs need routine and predictability in their lives to feel secure and confident, and when you're training an adult dog, you need to be very consistent in every way.
You'll need oodles of patience too.
However, there are some positives about working with a mature dog rather than a puppy.
For example, an adult dog has a much longer attention span than a puppy does, that makes training sessions more effective.
If you're housebreaking a mature dog, you'll find he has excellent bladder/bowel control, whereas a puppy has very limited control in this area.
This makes potty training quicker and easier.
Using a crate is the best option, and most adult dogs accept being crated without too much fuss.
However, if your dog gets hysterical at being put into his crate and/or left alone, he may be suffering from a behavioral condition called Dog Separation Anxiety.
This can be managed, and usually reduced to a tolerable level (for all concerned), but again it takes time, patience and love.
When it comes to obedience training, whether Fido is a pup or an adult, the basics are the same.
You need to use positive, rewards-based training methods (no harsh punishments or blame) and start with the basic dog training commands.
Don't rush things, stay calm and upbeat, and you'll find Fido learns quickly.
Socialization is an important part of puppy training, but it's also something which should be continued throughout the lifetime of your dog.
Socializing a dog basically just means giving them the exposure to different people, places and animals, so that they learn to be comfortable in any surroundings or situation.
The process is the same whether you're working with a puppy or an adult dog, but you always need to take Fidos' personality and comfort zone into account.
Don't rush things and don't force him into situations which scare or stress him too much. Slow and steady wins the race.
Check out this page to learn more about socialization in general... Puppy Socialization.
There are SO MANY dog supplies available that it can be a bit overwhelming at times.
Of course there are essentials that every dog needs.... things like dog food, a collar and leash, potty-training products, grooming tools and so on.
Then there are the 'extra' things, the luxuries, and it's these that can boggle the mind - and put a strain on your wallet.
Over the years (umm, decades!) I've bought a LOT of dog stuff. Some of the products turned out to be great buys and I've continued to use (and replace) them over and over again.
Others didn't survive the 'testers' in my home, or proved to be poor quality or just unnecessary... and I just hate wasting my money on those.
To help you avoid making some of the same mistakes, I've put together several pages on my site which feature supplies that I've used and trust, as well as many popular items and new-to-the-market products.
Here are links to a selection of them that I hope you find helpful:
A good reference book is always a wise investment, and these are three of the very best dog care books on the market.
I own each one and in fact, I've used the Original Dog Bible so much that the cover fell off years ago! Worth it's weight in gold.