Do You Like Your Dog?
What's the first thing we do when we get a new dog? Take pictures, buy toys and take the new puppy for a walk to show everyone how cute the new member of the family is. These things are all appropriate and I also do the same thing when I have a brand new puppy. There is not much more exciting then getting a new puppy, it's a special moment in our lives and a new family member has been added. It's what we do after the initial newness has worn out, can we do more for them and go above and beyond? Did we get our new puppy from a kennel, breeder, pet store or a neighbor whose dog just had puppies? Other than from the neighbor, chances are your new puppy already had some shots and vaccinations prior to you getting them. Either way we need to take that new dog to a veterinarian.
What A Good Patient
Seeing a veterinarian is a must, not only for a new puppy but for an adult dog also. A vet will check on the health, give the proper shots, give advice on flea & tick treatments, grooming and how to feed your dog, which is especially true when they are younger and older. Vet visit costs can be expensive and add up quickly but we need to get our dogs there when necessary. The importance of this cannot be overstated, yet many of us do not take our pets to a vet unless something seriously goes wrong.
Food For Thought
Make sure your dog is getting the proper nutrition, vitamins and water. Don't under or over feed them. Your dogs eating habits and nutritional needs will change as they age. Usually there will be more changes in their diet as a puppy grows and matures. The middle of their life is usually the same feeding routine and as they get older adjustments will probably need to happen again. Puppies need more feedings throughout the day than a one year old dog. A one year old and middle aged years usually require one meal a day. Larger dogs sometimes bloat so break up their meals into two smaller ones if that is the case. Most of us take the advice of our friends or local dog experts. Usually this advice will be OK but a veterinarian will give us the best advice there is especially if your dog has special needs. Not every dog is created equally, some have allergies, breathing or medical conditions. All these differences will affect your dog's eating requirements and what better place to find out than a vet. Proper nutrition will also improve skin and keep a shinier healthy coat of hair.
Time To Play
We've been to the vet, got our shots and the proper food. What's next, just have fun? Yes, but the best way to have fun and also healthy for your dog is to make sure they get the proper exercise. Our dogs need exercise just like we do. It will burn calories, stimulate their minds, avoid boredom and helps to prevent destructive behavior. Some dogs are just full of energy and seem to get enough exercise on their own without any encouragement from us. Either way we should get involved in our dog's exercise. Walks, fetch games, visits to the park or local dog areas and play time with toys is a great way to bond with your dog. Interactive play for your dog, with us and other dogs, is a great way to improve their health and social skills. A great benefit of playing is that it helps keep the both of you healthy and active.
Safe & Secure
Whether you live in an apartment or a house, don't let your dog roam around without a leash when going for a walk. I see this a lot, especially in more rural areas but I also see it in the city. One reason not to do this is because in most places that I know it is against the law not to have your dog on a leash. There are many reasons for this law, mostly for safety reasons. Allowing your dog to roam around freely endangers them and increases the chances of getting hit by a car or hurt by another animal. Even if your dog is well trained and will stay by your side you just never know what might happen that might tempt them to rush off on their own. You cannot always trust that you will be able to grab them before they dart off from your side. Many times I have seen a dog running across the road creating a dangerous situation, not only for your dog, but it puts motorists safety in jeopardy. There are children or adults that have a fear of dogs. it is not fair to them to create a doubt in their mind, have them alter their path or cross the road just because they is no leash. Even if your dog is friendly and wouldn't hurt a fly, these people do not know that.
If you live in a house with property, make sure your dog is secured and cannot escape your property and roam around the neighborhood. The same reasons for not walking your dog without a leash pertains here also. In this situation though the results can become a lot worse because you are not with them to watch over them and limit something wrong from happening.
Have your dog wear a collar or similar apparatus. The obvious reason for wearing a collar is to attach a leash to for walking. Collars do have multiple purposes and another reason is to attach ID tags with your contact information on it in case your dog does get loose or lost. Make sure your address, phone number and dog's name are on there. A new trend is the installation of a microchip that has GPS capabilities for tracking a lost or stolen dog. Whichever method you choose one of these precautions need to be done.
Keep your dog clean and brush daily to help prevent shedding. Regular brushing is essential especially around seasonal changes. Most breeds will benefit from daily brushing and will make their coat softer and cleaner. It will also help get rid of bugs which can lead to skin irritation. Use grooming time to check for abnormalities on their skin or body. If you notice anything unusual talk to your professional groomer or veterinarian. Routine bathing is important and can also help control shedding. Do not use human shampoo, it can dry their skin, cause irritation and dandruff, use a shampoo formulated for your dog. Keep your dog's nails trimmed and give them a proper hair cut. Do not shave their hair closer than what their breed is supposed to have, there is a reason for their thick coat and their natural shedding cycle could be disrupted.
Most of these things are common sense but we need to be reminded to do all of these things. All of the tips are important and should not be put off or forgotten. Vet visits, grooming, nutrition, safety precautions and exercise all need to be addressed on a normal basis. Doing this will keep them healthier and happier. Our dogs are animals but they are members of our families. So, when it comes to their health and well being we need to treat them the same way we would treat our family.