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How to Properly Care for Your Puggle
Good, basic care of your puggle is no real burden or chore - in fact, it can be quite simple and amusing. I'd rate my puggle as a low-maintenance dog.
Daily Care: Nutrition and Exercise
The obvious foundation to any healthy dog (or person for that matter) is a proper diet and plenty of exercise.
I've had excellent results either cooking for my dog (quick recipe below) or feeding her a grain-free, highly rated, balanced food. I've done extensive research on dog nutrition and have found that grocery store dog food is quite unhealthy and most likely will shorten a dog's lifespan. Food purchased at a pet store is usually of medium quality, while the more expensive food usually ordered online, or prepared yourself, can add years to a dog's life. So, I would suggest you do your research derived from vets and other unbiased sources to determine what's best for your dog. (Don't believe the commercials on tv!)
Tips: If your puggle is not a good water drinker like mine, try adding water to their meals. My puggle's dinners are now actually a stew or a soup. In addition, if your puggle is a gulper, try putting their meal in a blender or food processor before serving so that their digestive system can access all of the nutrients.
Quick recipe: Combine and cook any kind or combination of meats you have on hand (not processed or containing nitrates - meaning no bacon, sausage, ham, processed turkey, etc), some fruits or veggies (again, do your research - make sure the item is safe for dogs), a couple capsuls of fish oil squirted into the mix, a crushed calcium tablet, and a crushed multi-vitamin tablet. Other options to add are eggs and legumes. The quantity of each item should fall in the order listed above, with the vast majority being protein. No spices.
While every dog has different exercise requirements, my puggle adapts to my schedule quite well. She is happiest hiking in the foothills or taking the long walk to the park and running with the big dogs for an hour or so. However, there are days where my schedule doesn't permit a long run, and she is polite enough to not scoff at our walks around the block (although she's a bit more antsy during the day when she doesn't get a good run in.)
Usually on a weekend day, I spend a few minutes doing basic clean-up type maintenance. I use the one washcloth method (I'm pretty sure I came up with that). But, it makes the process very quick and simple. No highly commercialized products necessary.
- Start with a clean, warm, wet washcloth (no soap).
- Wrangle your little sweetie (I usually sit on the floor with my arms and legs around her - if you can picture that - LOL.)
- First I hold her head as still as possible with my left hand, while I gently and slowly wipe her nose wrinkles and tear stains with the washcloth. Warning: Be very careful of puggle eyes since they protrude. When I do this slowly, it gives her a chance to close her eye before each swipe.
- Next I gently clean the parts of her inner ears that I can reach with the washcloth. Since my finger in a washcloth is pretty wide, there's little chance of going too far into the ear canal.
- Next, I turn the washcloth over, pry her jaws apart, and just clean the heck out of her stinky mouth and teeth. I've never had much luck with small or pet-specific toothbrushes since my puggle has a 360 degree bobble head.
By the time these three items are clean, the washcloth bears the evidence of all the gook on her face and teeth. (Pretty gross, but I'm glad it's off of her!)
Monthly puggle care in our family is quite simple. On the first of the month (easy to remember), I apply my puggle's topical flea and tick medication, and feed her a smelly heartworm prevention tab. That's it! She is protected for the month.
Note: Heartworm medication can be dispensed by human pharmacies (I like Costco), but the pharmacy must have a copy of the prescription faxed from your vet. Normally, the pharmacy will fill only one year's worth of medication, ensuring you have your dog checked for heartworm every year.
Also, during the summer, I usually give my puggle a wet or dry shampoo bath once a month, but hold off for 2-3 months in the winter, as the weather dries out her skin and makes her more itchy after even a moisturizing bath. Normally, I brush her out (see: The Fabulous FURminator) before the bath to avoid clogging up my drain.
As Needed Care
The only as needed care I've come across with my puggle are for hot spots and ear infections.
Due to the fact that my puggle has hairless armpits and that she wears a soft harness for walks and a sweatshirt in the winter, she sometimes develops spotty abrasions in friction areas. I used to pay for an outrageously expensive spray from the vet, but found a great hot spot spray (recommended by Cesar Millan) that is available to order online.
In addition, when I see my girl start scratching an ear, I do the weekly cleaning, then when dry, I apply this (what I think) is miracle lotion prescribed from the vet. I apply it once per day with a cotton ball, concentrating on the inner flaps, and the itch is gone within 2 days. The bottle usually lasts the entire year, but again, it is by prescription.
But, be forewarned, you need to hold her head still (in a tight grip) while massaging the cleaner into her ear and wiping the excess out with a cotton ball. Because, after that, all bets are off. She shakes her head like crazy, the leftover ear cleaner flying everywhere, then proceeds to act like an insane dog, rubbing her ears all over the rug.
Yearly Care - Vet Visits
Yearly vet visits are, of course, essential. That's when she gets checked over for unexpected illnesses, tested for heartworm or any other locality specific or suspected illnesses. She will also get booster shots and refill prescriptions if needed. And, this is your chance to ply your vet for answers to questions you've been wondering about all year. (Is this behavior normal . . .?)
Assuming you've been applying all the care types listed above, the visit should be a breeze for both you and your puggle.
Tip: If you're going to be doing any air travel over the next year, it's good to get an extra copy of her updated vaccinations, so flying with your puggle will be non-problematic.
I believe, from personal experience, that puggles are exceptionally lovable and low-maintenance. Although every dog, even within one breed, behaves differently, I think I really lucked out with my little companion.