Caring for Dogs
Article by David Beart
Anybody who decides to buy a dog has a responsibility to look after it. A healthy, well looked after animal doesn’t need a huge amount of work. But as a dog owner, you need to be aware of your responsibilities, because quite simply, dogs can’t do it themselves.Think about how you care for yourself or the people who are close to you. You:
* keep clean,
* make sure your health needs are taken care of, and
* if you get sick or have an accident, you make sure they get the assistance that is needed.
If you can’t do this for your dog, don’t even consider getting one. And if you have one already and aren’t able to care for it properly, take steps to find someone who can and will care for it properly.Dogs do dig and roll in sand and mud, and they often get ticks and fleas, and sometimes resultant skin conditions as well. But these problems can all be controlled by regular washing, as well as by treating the affected skin with proprietary products that get rid of ticks and fleas, and medication that clears up rashes. Dogs with allergic reactions might also need special diets or supplements that help avoid these problems.
But generally caring for dogs is a fairly simple task.
Dogs can get lots of diseases, but generally they don’t. If they do become off-colour and obviously ill, you’ll need to call in a veterinarian, just as you would call in a doctor if you got really sick.
You first visit to the vet will be to make sure your puppy gets the required inoculations. Usually a pup will be inoculated or vaccinated before being separated from its mother, but follow-up inoculations will need to be done later. Breeders and organizations that find homes for puppies and dogs will usually supply some sort of “passport”, health record card or vaccination certificate that indicates what is needed. This may also have space for a veterinary history, sterilization certificate, as well as a deworming schedule. Regular deworming is essential because dogs can be infected by a range of internal parasites including roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms. Diet is also extremely important, but today there are well balanced dog food products that are formulated to provide all the necessary vitamins and minerals a dog needs. You must just be sure to provide a proper diet at regular hours. Puppies are fed more frequently than adult dogs that usually have just two meals a day.
All dogs need somewhere clean and preferably comfortable to sleep. You will need to decide whether your dog sleeps inside or outside, although be warned that some breeds become miserable if left outdoors. Some dogs will also bark constantly if left outside, even if you provide them with a kennel. Some dogs simply won’t sleep in a kennel.
Dogs also need regular exercise, and they should be groomed regularly, especially those with long coats. The environment your dog lives in will determine to a large extent whether it gets fleas or ticks. If you keep the dog clean, and use a dip or a proprietary treatment (usually applied to the back of its neck), you can control these external parasites with very little effort.
Some dogs are prone to skin conditions and you should be aware if you dog scratches a lot. If you find reddish spots, or hot spots where there is no hair and the skin seems to ooze, visit your local veterinarian and get something to treat it with.
Also check their eyes and ears regularly. Remove any discharge from eyes and if it persists, visit your vet. Dogs’ ears produce wax just like ours do, and you may need to remove it. But be gentle and don’t probe into the ear. A dog that scratches its ears frequently might have an ear infection of some sort, or possibly mites in the ears. Again, a vet will be able diagnose the problem and tell you what to use to get rid of it.
We clip or file our nails, and we usually have to clip dogs’ nails too. The exception is when a dog has plenty of exercise on a hard surface that wears the claws away naturally. You will need specially designed clippers, available from most pet shops, to be able to clip your dog’s claws. Be careful not to remove too much of the claw because if you cut into the quick, it will bleed and be painful. As dogs get older they may need special care, for example if their eye sight begins to fail or they begin to go deaf. Remember that even old dogs need exercise, although not as much as younger animals. You should also change their diet and buy a dog food intended for old dogs.
Above all, remember that dogs need love and companionship which they will usually return a thousand fold.
About the Author
David Beart is the owner of the PetYak. Our site covers pet related topics such as puppies, cat health, birds and tropical fish.