If you just adopted onenew puppyor you've had dogs all your life, there's bound to be something in this list of dog care tips that you didn't know - but should.
As someone who has worked in vet clinics for 10+ years and an avid #dog lover, I promise you that this extensive list of 39 dog care tips will help you be a better parent.
Here's what you'll find:
- Dog health tips
- Housekeeping and puppy testing
- exercise and mental stimulation
- winter care
- summer care
- dog safety
Dog health tips
1. Do not overfeed your dog, it will greatly affect their health and happiness
More than50% of dogs in America are obeseand that number is on the rise. Overweight dogs are at increased risk for metabolic abnormalities, cardiovascular disease, joint disease, a weakened immune system, and many other health problems. They are also less mobile and cannot run, play, or engage in other activities as much as they would like. Do your pet a favour, feed them their veterinarian's recommended amount, and don't give in to those puppies' looks when they ask for more!
2. Touch your dog's nose
Your dog's nose should feel damp. Moisture levels vary by dog and season, but a healthy dog will have a cool and slightly wet nose because dogs secretesweat through the nosecooling down.
3. Make annual vet appointments
Let the experts examine your dog regularly to screen for any health issues and provide you with the best, personalized information to keep your precious pup healthy for many years to come.
4. Make a "pet first aid kit".
Accidents and emergencies happen and being prepared with whatever is necessary to help your dog is a crucial step in being a responsible pet owner. This is especially important when hiking or camping with your dog when you are far from help. ADIY Pet First Aid Kitis something every dog parent should have.
5. Get pet insurance
Notfall inUnexpected accidents and illnesses often cost $800 to $1,500. With up to a third of the pets in need of emergency care each year, this can quickly become a financial burden. Pet insurance can help cover those unexpected expenses, prescription medications, long-term health issues, and more, making it an important investment for the furry family members.
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6. Brush your dog's teeth
Often overlooked, brushing your dog's teeth is extremely important to their overall health and wellbeingAvoiding expensive dental treatmentsin the future. Make this a part of themnormal daily routineand make sure you use a toothpaste made specifically for dogs. With a little time and training, brushing your pet's teeth every day can be a fun activity!
7. Prepare an emergency plan
It's not pleasant to think about, but it's important to have a plan for your dog in case anything happens to you. Make a list ofimportant informationabout your dog's lifestyle, including how often he is fed, how much he is fed, medications, his vet's phone number, etc. Give copies of this to someone in your life who could take care of your dog in an emergency. It's also worth asking around and making sure you have at least one or two people nearby who can help your dog on short notice.
8. Play with purpose
When you pet and play with your dog, especially when he is young, you are intentionally playing with his feet, ears, and mouth. By doing things like touching their feet, toes, and nails during a positive gameplay experience, you will desensitize them to touching those areas when it's time to trim their nails. If you look in his ears and mouth and get him used to being treated this way, your vet will have a much easier time examining your dog when he sets offCheck-ups. This will make your vet's job easier, your pup will be less stressed during the exam, and your vet will be more likely to spot any abnormalities if something is wrong with your dog.
Housekeeping and puppy testing
9. Keep your trash safe
Dogs are attracted to the delicious smell of your litter and may eat things that are toxic, harmful, or indigestible, so make sure your litter issecure. Swallowing foreign objects or toxic substances can result in costly emergency surgeries.
10. Give your dog a safe place
Create a temperate area of your home with your dog's bed or blanket, some toys, and a water bowl where your dog will feel safe and can easily nap during the day. This can help your dogcalm down yourselfin stressful situations such as parties, crying babies or thunderstorms. If your dog has been crate trainedrescue puppiesor if you join your family, it can provide them with a perfect place just for them that they will love to have if they keep their box open and available even when they no longer need it for exercise.
11. Lock up household toxins
Always keep your household chemicals like cleaning supplies and pesticides out of your dog's reach. Many smart dogs can and will get caught up in products kept under the sink or in the garage. Try sealing cabinets with toxic products with baby-proof locks.
12. Wash your dog's clothes regularly
Germs, dirt, pollen and more end up on your dog's bedding, stuffed animals and blankets. Make sure you areWash these items weeklyto keep them fresh and clean for your dog. If your dog suffers from seasonal allergies, this can be especially helpful in reducing their pollen load.
13. Keep your dog away from human food
Many human foods, such as chocolate, avocados or onions, are toxic to dogs and can have serious effects on their health. Keep food out of the reach of humans and be especially careful with gum and candy as it contains a lot of themxylitolThis is a sugar-like substance that is toxic to dogs. Don't intentionally feed your dog human food unless your vet recommends it. Some human foods, like plain chicken, canned pumpkin, or plain rice, may be intentionally recommended by your vet in small amounts for specific reasons like indigestion, diarrhea, to hide oral medications, or as highly motivating workout treats. In these cases, "human food" may be appropriate for your dog, but he certainly doesn't need to lick your plate clean or eat your leftovers.
PROFITIPP:For a comprehensive checklist of everything you need to "puppy-proof" your home, download the free onepuppy checklist.
movement and mental stimulation
14. Walk your dog for their health and happiness
Take regular walksmany advantagesfor your dog, including preventing boredom, supporting the digestive tract, maintaining a healthier weight and helping to burn off excess energy. By giving them a constructive outlet, you may find that bad behaviors like chewing, barking, or digging also decrease.
15. Fight boredom by adding variety
Break up your dog's normal routine by adding extra walks or outings. Take them to a dog-friendly spot or get in the car for a change of scenery. Take them on errands and trade their toys to keepmentally stimulated.
16. Mentally challenge your dog
Just like us, dogs need plenty of mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. Give your dog a puzzle toy, teach him new tricks and play new games with himkeep them busy. Puzzle toys are a fantastic way to provide your dog with a fun activity when you can't give them 100% of your attention.
PROFITIPP:This is especially important during this timesocial distancing with your dog.
17. Slowing down a super eater
If your dog or puppy eats their meals very quickly, it increases the risk of stomach problems or upset, which can lead to vomiting. Slowing down your dog's eating is good for their digestive health and is easy to do. One option is to purchase a jigsaw puzzle feeder at a pet store or online. Alternatively, a cheap easy fix is to just place a large tennis ball in their bowl. Both the ball and the puzzle toy work similarly, requiring your dog to bypass the inedible obstacle to eat his meal.
18. Working out together
Run your dog in the park, try dog yoga,rise stepswith your dogs or take them on an adventurous hike. You'll both reap the benefits of exercise while having fun together.
19. Be a friend to your dog
Dogs need love and affection to thrive. Make sure they spend plenty of time indoors with you and your family. Give them attention, treats and play with them.
20. Have patience with them
It can be challenging when your dog performs or fails to pick up a new training technique, but with a little grace and patience, they're more likely to keep trying. If you're feeling frustrated, take a break from training and consider consulting your veterinarian or a local training expert. Dogs are very good at reading our body language and do not respond well to training when tense or angry.
21. Hanging out with them while they eat
Dogs are pack animals by nature and you are their pack. Stay close to them when they eat and make this a sequelcommunity act. Picky eaters may also show more interest in their food when they see you care.
22. Applaud your pet when they've successfully relieved themselves outside
Practice potty trainingcan be difficult, especially with stubborn dog breeds. Applaud and cheer your dog on every time he goes outside and does his business, and he will eagerly continue this behavior until it becomes a habit. For dogs that are learning to be housebroken, bring treats outside and reward your dog immediately after he's finished peeing or pooping in a place you approve of. If you do this every time, and walk your pup often enough (including after every meal, after every drink of water, and at least every 4-6 hours), housebreaking will become that much easier.
23. Make practice a game
Switch the treats, rewards and praise. If you treat exercise as a game and not something you get scolded for, you'll have more fun and you'll see better results. You may also find that this process makes your dog more responsive to different types of rewards. When training, always reward positive behavior with treats, a clicker, pets, and/or verbal praise and simply ignore bad behavior. They will learn that if they want a reward, they must do what you ask of them.
24. Consistent training is key
Decide what the"House Rules"for your dog and stick with it! Will your dog be allowed on furniture, in any part of the house, or around family during dinner time? When training your dog, follow the same training commands and rules to avoid confusion. Make sure all members of your family are on the same page and commit to following the rules consistently to avoid confusing your pup or perpetuating bad behavior.
25. Correct bad behavior immediately
Dogs have short memories, and if you scold them for something wrong five minutes later, they won't associate the scolding with the bad behavior. Only reprimand them if you catch them in the act. On the other hand, always give your dog immediate positive feedback and rewards for good behavior to encourage repetition of that behavior.
Winter care tips
26. Wet your dog's paws
Cold weather can cause your dog's paws to crack due to the dry air. Try moisturizing your dog's paws topically with pad moisturizers to relieve discomfort, especially if they appear rough or painful after your pup has been outside.
27. Limit your time outside
Dogs are prone to frostbite, especially on their paws, ears, and tails. Even dogs with a thick coat should not be left outdoors for long periods of timecool weather. If you start to feel cold, take your dog inside as they are likely to be cold too.
28. Beware of ice and winter salt
Both ice and winter salt on sidewalks can cause yourspaw pads of the dogto develop cracks or burns. Wipe your dog's paws after every trip outside and make sure he doesn't try to eat salt off the floor or lick it off his paws. If this is causing your dog constant discomfort, consider investing in a pair of dog shoes to protect the delicate skin on their feet. They also make pet-safe driveway and sidewalk salt that you can use in your home. Pet safe salt is non-toxic to pets' feet and not harmful if they accidentally eat some of the salt.
29. Consider buying your dog a sweater
Many dogs have thick coats to keep them warm even outside in the coldest months, but not all of our puppies have enough fur to brave the cold. Any dogcan get hypothermia, and depending on where you live and your dog's breed, your dog may benefit from a coat or sweater during the winter. Some early signs of hypothermia that suggest your dog might benefit from extra sun exposure include tremors, rapid breathing, ears and feet that feel cold, increased urination, and hair standing on end. Many dogs love winter coats or sweaters; They look cute and offer even more protection for winter playtime.
Care tips for the summer
30. Keep your dog cool
Dogs don't sweat like we do. Instead of sweating all over their bodies like humans, they sweat through the pads of their paws and rely on itgasprelease heat. Give your dogs access to shade and a way to cool off like a children's pool filled with water or ice so your dogs can safely enjoy the great outdoors during the warmer months. Watch them closely in hot weather and bring them indoors if they pant excessively to prevent heatstroke, stress and dehydration. .
31. Provide them with a constant source of water
Dehydration is incredibly dangerous for dogs and can happen quickly. Make sure your dog has easy access to clean, fresh water throughout the day, both indoors and outdoors. Notice if they pant excessively, lose interest in food, or have a dry nose. Be sure to contact your veterinarian if you notice these or any other unusual behaviors in your dog during heat waves.
32. Avoid toxic algae
algae, if ingested,can be harmfuland in some cases fatal to dogs. It's tempting to take your dog to the pond or lake during the hot summer months, but always check with your local parks and recreation department first for environmental warnings about toxic algae, water treatments, or harmful pesticides in and around the water.
33. Watch her feet
Dog's paw pads are heat sensitive and can be burned when walking on hot surfaces. If you cannot comfortably place your bare hand or foot on the hot floor outside, the surface is too hot for your dog to walk on. In these cases, opt for grass, dirt, or covered paths when walking your dog.
34. Never leave your dog in the car
The inside temperature of a car can quickly become dangerous or even fatal for your dog. Never leave them unattended in your car, even with cracked windows, as they can easily succumb to heat stroke. Even if the outside temperature is only 70 degrees, your car will be over 100 degrees in 20 minutes. cars can reachdeadly temperaturesin minutes in summer.
35. Never let your dog ride in the back of your truck
Approximately100,000 dogs die while driving in flatbed trucksof a truck per year, whether from falling off the truck bed or debris. This does not take into account the many others injured in other types of vehicles. Please leave your dog with you in the car, ideally strapped in somehow. Depending on your dog's size, temperament, or the length of your drive, you can safely crate or crate your dog as long as it is secure and cannot slip around your car in the event of a sharp turn or accident. Alternatively, you can protect your dog by buying him a seat belt attachment that attaches directly to his harness and keeps him securely in the seat. If you have questions about where it is safest for your dog to travel in the car, you can always consult your veterinarian.
36. Always wear an ID tag with your dog
You never know the importance of an ID tag until you are separated from your dog. Take the time to have an ID tag created with your phone number, the dog's name, and the vet's phone number. Make sure this information is up to date.
37. Microchip your dog
Accidents happen and dogs can become detached from their collars. If your dog is lost but microchipped, a vet clinic or shelter will scan any pets found for microchips and can look up your personal information and get in touch with you if your dog has one. In the worst case, a microchip can also prove ownership of your dog if it has been stolen. They are inexpensive and as painless and simple as administering a vaccine.
38. Always keep your dog on a leash in public
Even the most obedient dog can run away when it sees another dog, human or animal. Be responsible and keep your dog on a leash in public places to avoid losing your dog or suffering from accidents or injuries such as dog fighting, vehicle crashes or other physical harm.
39. Consult your veterinarian before trying any new food or medication
Diet or medication changes can cause several health problems for your pet if not done properly or with your veterinarian's instructions. You know your pet best and want to provide them with the best food, supplements and medical care possible. The best way to do this is to consult your veterinary team if you would like to make any changes and why. That way, your vet can make sure you have a safe product and plan, and make a note of the change on your pet's medical records if your dog ever gets sick or injured. Your vet has the most accurate and up-to-date information on your pet's health and lifestyle.
Take good care of your pup
Providing quality healthcare for your dog is one of the most important areas of loving and supporting your dog throughout their life, from puppy to senior. Download theNew Puppy Checklistfor a simple PDF that you can save.
I also strongly encourage you to consider pet insurance to cover the financial risk that your dog might get injured or get sick. There is nothing worse than not having the resources to treat an animal when you have the knowledge and the means. Because there are so many pet insurance options on the market,Explore the Pawlicy Advisor marketplaceto see plans from top companies side-by-side and get personalized guidance.