Getting and owning a dog can be an exciting adventure, but it can also be overwhelming, especially if it's your first time. You don't have to look further because this guide will help you prepare for 2023 and what you need to do to confidently take care of your dog. This guide is also for those who are already fur parents but want more information on how they can take good care of their dogs. So congratulations on taking this step and ensuring your dog receives the best care!
Benefits of Proper Dog Care
Taking care of your dog correctly benefits you and your pup. Properly caring for your furry friend will give them a longer, healthier life and ensure they're obedient and happy. Taking care of your pup also helps strengthen the bond between you two and can make for more enjoyable playtime experiences.
Prevention and Wellness Care
Ensuring your pup stays healthy and happy starts with finding the right veterinarian and investing in pet insurance. Understanding your dog's healthcare needs is essential, from vaccinations to spay/neuter, microchipping, and parasite treatment and prevention.
What Vaccinations does My Dog Need?
Vaccinating your pup is an essential step in safeguarding their health – no one wants a sick dog, and furthermore, the costs can be relatively high too. Most of these immunizations are in place to protect against common ailments. However, there are some severe or even potentially deadly illnesses that vaccinations will guard against, like rabies and leptospirosis.
Below are the core vaccines your dog should take:
Other vaccines you can add are:
- Canine influenza
- Lyme disease
When should I Give these Vaccines to My Dog?
It varies depending on the age - they may require one or two doses around 3 to 16 weeks, followed by boosters at 6 to 12 months. Once your pooch is all set up, how often should they get booster shots? Generally speaking, these should be 1 to 3 years apart, as this is the duration of immunity provided by each vaccine.
How do I Select the Best Vet?
If you're looking for the right vet clinic or hospital to suit your pup's needs, do some research – scout out their location, services offered, and fees. Knowing your dog's breed and exercise routine may also be necessary: certain veterinarians specialize in caring for specific breeds or managing specific conditions better. If you want to ask any questions regarding a veterinarian's experience, qualifications or education, don't hesitate - it's best to make sure you're happy with their credentials before booking an appointment for your furry companion.
Should I get Pet Insurance?
Deciding how to cover your pet's health care costs can be tricky. Setting up a pet care savings account, using a crowdfunding platform, or paying out of pocket are all options but investing in pet insurance is the best way to ensure you don't break the bank. Depending on your policy, you could be refunded for up to 100% within a few days. Plus, if you take out insurance early on, any health issues that come up later in life may qualify for reimbursement - as long as they don't count as pre-existing conditions.
A high-quality diet is essential for keeping your pup healthy. Not only can quality kibble improve mobility and digestive health, but it can also help your dog live a healthy life!
How to Choose the Right Dog Food?
With the sheer variety of pet food brands, it can be difficult to select which one is the best for your pup. When selecting food for your dog, there are several factors you should consider: your dog's age, breed, health, and activity level; your budget; what they like; any advice from your vet; its recall history; and reviews from customers who have dogs similar to yours.
After selecting a brand that fits your criteria, let your pup try it. Some dogs will eat anything, while others can be fussy eaters. It's a great idea to feed them something they enjoy, so they can get the nutrition they need and benefit from all the health perks their food offers.
As your pup matures, its dietary requirements will evolve too — and it's important to switch to an age-appropriate food. Make sure you do this gradually, as transitioning too quickly can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other digestive issues.
Things You Need to Know About Dog Treats
- Refrain from giving your pup cooked bones and rawhides. They can easily become choking hazards and even lodge in their digestive system, making them hard to digest.
- Treats should only make up 10% of your pup's daily caloric intake. For instance, an 11-pound dog usually eats approximately 351 calories a day, so treats must only amount to 35 calories.
- Dental treats are an excellent way to give your pup something fun to do and clean their teeth, but they should not replace brushing, as brushing is still necessary.
- "High-value" treats like cheese or hot dogs are fantastic for training. You should only give this kind of treat occasionally to avoid weight gain. If you're in the middle of many training sessions, think about using individual kibble pieces instead.
- Having a bowl dedicated to food and water for your dog is essential. If you're giving treats, give them from a separate, clean bowl or hand-feed them. Just like humans, dogs don't like to eat dirty dishes.
How to Understand Dog Food Labels
- Depending on their composition, pet food products should be measured according to weight, liquid volume, or the count. As a thrifty buyer, you should consider the product's type and density when assessing these measurements. Regulatory requirements also encourage metric-based measuring. If you're undecided about which item is suitable for you and your pet, compare each option's cost per ounce or pound – reasonable picks can usually be found in the middle range.
- Ingredients should be listed according to their relative weight, with the main constituent at the top. Although understanding ingredients may be simple, they can be more complex when accounting for added flavors and colors. By law, it's required that the most prevalent ingredient is mentioned first upon listing, followed by those comprising smaller amounts. All ingredients must also conform to GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) status or food additive regulations – and if an AAFCO-defined name exists for a particular item, it must be used instead of the "common or usual" term customers would expect.
- When hunting for the right food, look at the "guaranteed analysis" or nutrition facts – which will provide you with important information on essential nutrients like protein, fat and fiber. It's critical to select something that offers high protein levels – according to AAFCO requirements, this should range between 18% and 22%, depending on your canine companion's life stage.
Vitamins and Supplements for Your Dogs
- Multivitamin Puppy. The specially formulated chews provide essential vitamins, minerals, omegas, and probiotics tailored to support your pup's development from 4-12 months of age. With a daily dose of these delicious chews, you can be sure your puppy is getting the nutrients needed for a strong brain, joints, immune system, skin, and gut health.
- Hemp Calming Fresh Sticks. With natural ingredients like hemp, valerian root, and chamomile, these delicious dental sticks are designed to help reduce anxious behaviors and hyperactivity in dogs of all sizes. Not only will your pup love the peanut butter flavor - the hard yet slightly flexible stick helps scrape plaque from teeth and freshen up their breath. Plus, the calming effects of the natural relaxation blend of ingredients can help soothe and relax your dog during stressful situations such as thunderstorms, vet visits, travel, or separation.
- Multivitamin Max Strength. These delicious hickory smoked salmon flavored soft chews are packed with real food super blend vitamins and minerals and other nutrients to support 15 areas of their health. From energy levels and joint mobility to digestive health and immune system strength, this multivitamin helps your pup stay healthy day after day.
- PureMobility Chews. Developed by expert formulators and animal science nutritionists, this delicious chew combines natural ingredients such as Glucosamine, Green Lipped Mussels, Turmeric, and Collagen - all backed by clinical research - to help promote healthy bone, joint, and hip function in your pup. Improve your pup's health with this natural blend to provide connective tissue support and enhance healthy joint fluid viscosity.
Exercise and Activity
Looking after your pup's daily exercise routine is essential - how much they need depends on their age, breed, and health history. Contrary to what people may think, puppies require up to an hour of gentle exercise each day—divided into smaller periods throughout the day. Adult dogs can require anywhere from half an hour to three hours of activity daily, while seniors should get around one hour of low-impact activity daily.
Below are some activities you can do with them:
Adult dogs typically require 8-14 hours of sleep per day, but that number can vary depending on factors like age, health, breed, and activity level. Much like humans, puppies and senior dogs need more rest than the average pup - up to 18 hours per day in some cases. They may also take plenty of naps throughout the day too. If your dog has difficulty sleeping, it could be caused by various factors such as lack of stimulation during the day, pain or discomfort from an illness, excessive noise or activity, eating a meal or treat close to bedtime, or not being taken out to go potty right before sleep.
After establishing a sleep schedule for your pup, you must decide how they will sleep. Is it better to let them share your bed or have them have their own space? There's no definitive answer. It depends on what is most comfortable and convenient for you and your dog. Some dogs may prefer their spot, while others will want to curl up close to you. If your pup isn't permitted on furniture, make sure to give them a comfy bed of their own so as not to cause any confusion. But if you're okay with having your dog join you in the bedroom, go ahead and let them.
Keeping a regular schedule for your puppy is key in both teaching them the basics and preventing accidents. As a rule of thumb, your pup will be able to hold their bladder for one hour per month of age - so if your puppy is two months old, try not to leave them more than two hours between trips to the bathroom.
Tips for Potty Training
- Consistency is vital for potty training your pup. Dogs respond best to a routine, so try and take them out at the exact times every day to help build good habits.
- One key to successful potty training for puppies is supervising them constantly. You can prevent messy accidents by learning the signs that your puppy gives when they need to go. Look out for common behaviors like sniffing around, making circles, wandering off, whining, or sitting by the door - all these could point to needing to use the restroom.
- Make sure to reinforce your pup each time they eliminate outdoors positively. Give treats or verbal praise (but don't forget to do it while they are still outside - not when they come inside). This is an important step, as rewarding your pup for going outside is the only way to show them this behavior is desirable. Before praising, make sure they have finished their business. Pups can be easily distracted, and if you reward them too soon, they may decide to finish up once back inside the house.
Brushing, bathing, and other forms of grooming are all essential for keeping your pup in tip-top condition. Don't forget about ear and dental care, either! Here are some helpful dog grooming tips to help keep your pup looking and feeling its best.
How often do dogs need to be bathed?
How often your pup needs a bath depends on its breed and lifestyle. For instance, breeds with long fur or those that love to get muddy may require more baths than short-haired pups that generally stay indoors. Regardless of how regular baths are needed, start getting your pup used to being bathed from an early age. If your furry friend gets anxious about bath time, a fun toy or game might help make the experience more enjoyable.
When selecting a product for your pup's bath, make sure to use soap or shampoo specially made for dogs. Human grooming products can contain toxic ingredients to canines, so it's important to pay attention to the label. Additionally, medicated flea and tick shampoos may help keep pests away temporarily but should not be used as your pup's only form of parasite treatment.
Before giving your pup a bath in your own tub, place a couple of towels nearby for easy access. Fill the tub with lukewarm water, making sure that the water level is high enough to cover your puppy's belly. Check the temperature of the water before placing them in the bath. For more tips on how to make bathtime successful, explore our guide on how to bathe your dog in the tub.
Is it essential to brush your dog?
Yes, it is essential to brush your dog's coat. The frequency depends on the texture and length of fur they have. Breeds that have a long, wiry coat should be brushed daily or at least a few times each week. On the other hand, short-haired dogs may only require brushing once every couple of weeks.
Brushing your puppy's coat can not only make it look shiny and healthy, but also provide an opportunity to check for fleas and ticks. Depending on their fur type, choose the right brush for the job - slicker brushes are well-suited for long coats, while bristle brushes help remove dander and dead hair. If you need more guidance, explore our dog breed guides to find out what kind of grooming supplies your pup needs.
If your pup is a bit hesitant about brushing, let them take their time getting familiar with the brush. Speak softly, keep sessions short and gentle, and remember to reward positive interactions. Mats can be tough for some pups, so use extra care in untangling them.
Can I brush my dog's teeth?
Yes, it's important to clean your puppy's teeth regularly. The best way to take care of their dental health is by brushing them at least twice a week.
Some tips for brushing your dog's teeth:
- Before you start the process, check if you have the right toothbrush and toothpaste for your pup - unique products made for canines are usually flavored with something appealing, like poultry or beef.
- Place a small amount of doggy toothpaste on the bristles and start brushing in circles around their teeth and gums. If your furry pal gets anxious during the process, break it up into shorter sessions and provide lots of rewards when they act calmly.
- Also, remember that dental chews and toys can help keep your puppy's teeth clean.
- Regular dental care is essential for maintaining your dog's long-term health, so check with your vet if any strange odors are detected or if you notice a change in their behavior.
Though caring for a dog is no small feat, the effort that you put in is always worth it. Taking care of some essential dog care tasks will help create an unshakeable bond between you and your pet, leading to nothing but happy memories down the line.