How long your dog lives, and how healthy he will be over the course of his life depend on what breed he is, the quality of medical care he gets, nutrition, genetics—and you. You, the dog owner can do many things to make sure dog is as healthy as he can be. It is up to you to make sure he gets proper medical care. This includes scheduled vaccinations and wellness check-ups. Because dogs age faster than we do, they need more frequent check-ups. You may avoid the doctor for years at a time, but your dog can't. Diseases that are diagnosed early can be more easily cured.
Keeping Your Dog Healthy
Dogs Equipment: What Dogs Equipment for Grooming Do You Need?
Going into a big box pet care store and looking for dog grooming tools can be overwhelming. There are so many choices. What dog equipment grooming tools do you really need?
The basics that every dog owner needs are relatively few. Your first step is to get a shoebox, or basket to hold all the tools and stash them conveniently in one place. A portable makeup box with a closeable lid makes an ideal container. Nail clippers are a necessary tool. Get the size that fits your dog. A Great Dane needs larger and stronger clippers than a miniature poodle because their nails are bigger. That just makes common sense. Some clippers come with a guard that prevents you from clipping too much nail at one time and exposing the quick. The quick is a small blood vessel that runs down the nail but not to the end of the nail.
In addition to the nail clippers, styptic powder should be in your dog grooming tool kit. Styptic powder very quickly stops the bleeding if you've cut into the nail quick. Tweezers are useful for removing stickers, debris and splinters. Dip them in alcohol before and after each use to sanitize the tweezers. A small bottle of alcohol should be in your kit for this purpose.
Small blunt ended scissors can cut out mats, tangles, and plant material, such as thorns, from your dog's coat. Manicure scissors could be used but you have to be careful with their sharp pointed ends. If your dog moves suddenly you could end up jabbing him.
A soft brush and a wire brush are both necessary. The wire brush detangles long fur and rakes out dead hair. The soft brush is used to finish the coat after the wire brush. Even if your dog is short haired like a Jack Russell Terrier he will still need brushing to remove dead hair, dust, and dirt from his coat.
Most dogs need their teeth brushed several times a week so a good dog toothbrush and dog toothpaste are in order. Don't use people toothpaste, it's not meant to be swallowed and that's what your dog will do. Dog toothpaste comes in flavors so dogs love the taste. It contains enzymes that help break down tarter and freshen breath.
Sterile eye cleaner should be included with your dog grooming tools to clean your puppy pal's eyes and flush them out if they've got that green gooey gunk.
Ear cleaner is a must if you have a long eared dog but is useful for any dog.
Cotton pads to wipe out the ears and eyes after they've been cleaned are useful. Use a clean pad for each eye. Squares of old terry cloth wash clothes can be used to clean the ears, but don't use them on the eyes, they're too rough and may end up scratching the eye.
Once a year go through your dog grooming tools and see what needs to be replaced. Dump eye cleaner, ear cleaner, and toothpaste that are more than six months old.
Preventative Care and Your Dog
Your dog can't tell you he doesn't feel well or that he has problems. That's why preventive care is so important. Taking your puppy pal to the vet every six months for a quick check up is being a smart owner. You can get the pet medication you need quickly before the situation becomes serious. Most dogs have some sort of immunization that's due every six months, like the shot to prevent kennel cough, so it's not an extra trip. Dog Health advice is important to the car of your canine buddy.
Pet insurance has become more prevalent and is a good idea. It works much the same for pets as it does for people. For example: The younger the dog the less expensive the premiums. And it can be a lifesaver, financially, for medical emergencies.
Get to know what's normal for your particular dog and what isn't. For example: hunting dogs usually won't acknowledge that they're hurt, to the point they'll try to hide an injury. In the wild that works. An injured dog can't hunt, so ignore the injury. If you have a setter or spaniel, both hunting breeds, you may find out a slight limp indicates a major problem. On the other hand some dogs are drama queens when it comes to the slightest injury and will howl if it even looks like they're going to get hurt.
Preventative care such as cleaning ears and eyes on a regular basis can prevent infections. At the very least you'll notice an infection before it becomes overwhelming. Once a week check your canine companion's eyes, ears, teeth, paw pads, and coat. Look how he or she walks and runs to see if they're limping or favoring one leg over the other. It's yucky but look at their stool so you know what their normal bowel movements look like.
Use preventive care and you and your dog will have a long and happy life together.
Regular dental care is important for maintaining your dog's health. Many veterinarians recommend you brush your dog's teeth daily, or at least a few times each week, beginning when your puppy has his adult teeth in, which is usually between 6 and 8 months of age. Use a special toothpaste and toothbrush designed for dogs; the toothpaste has a flavor such as meat or poultry that the dog loves, and it is all right if he swallows it. Other steps you can take include asking your vet to recommend chew toys and treats that help clean your dog's teeth.
It is important to maintain regular brushing because tartar can build up quickly on dog's teeth, and this can lead to periodontal disease (inflammation of the gums). As this disease advances, it can cause receding gums and eventually loss of teeth in the infected area. If tartar builds up on your dog's teeth faster than you can deal with it thorough brushing, your dentist may recommend that you bring him in for a teeth cleaning. This is done under anesthetic.
Dogs sometimes injure or fracture their teeth. They can develop pulpitis, which is damage to the soft tissue, or pulp, inside a tooth. This can be treated through doing a root canal or extracting the tooth. Treatment is essential: we all know how painful tooth problems can be. Larger dogs seem to have more problem with damaged teeth. You should be aware of what your dog plays with or chews. Discourage him from chewing wood, hard bones or other things that could injure his teeth. If you notice a discoloration on one of your dog's teeth, take him in to see the vet: it could be the onset of pulpitis. Other signs of dental problems include bad breath and loss of appetite.
You may associate grooming more with physical appearance than good health, but regular grooming is essential to keeping your dog's coat healthy, and making certain he is free of external parasites.
How often you brush your dog's coat depends on the breed; some dogs only need to be brushed once a week. Consult a breed specific guide to determine what's best. A dog's skin has natural oils that keep it healthy. By brushing him, you help even out the oils, and combing through or removing matted hair helps you find sores or parasites that may require treatment. Removing dead hair and dander (dead skin), which he would have shed somewhere in your home, can help relieve you and your family of allergy problems. The ritual of brushing allows you to bond more closely with your dog; he may come to love the attention. Also, this is your opportunity to examine his skin for any problems that may require treatment—these include infections, allergies and injuries. If you find lumps or bumps in his skin you need to let your vet know about it. Dogs can get cancerous tumors just like humans do; early detection is key to effective treatment.
Dogs certainly don't need baths as often as people do, but a once-a-month trip to the tub can be good both for the health of your dog's skin, and for your own allergies and housekeeping. Human shampoos and conditioners should not be used on dogs; this could bring about an allergic reaction. There are dozens of brands of specially formulated dog shampoos, with different fragrances, textures and even medicated varieties for dogs with skin problems. Pet stores sell attachments to shower heads that make it easier to rinse your dog. Make sure you use water at a comfortable temperature, not too hot, not too cold, and thoroughly dry your dog, so he doesn't become chilled after leaving the warm bathroom. Toweling him down may not be sufficient; you may need to use the blow dryer.
Dogs vary in their willingness to be bathed. Some have trouble keeping their footing in a porcelain tub. You can install a rubber mat to solve this problem. Don't let shampoo get in his eyes, or water get in his ears.
You may find that both you and your dog benefit from letting a professional groomer handle some of these chores. Perhaps you have a large dog and a small bathtub, and getting your dog in and out of the tub is too difficult. Some dog's coats are difficult or time consuming to take care of. Taking your dog to a professional groomer, who has the right tools and knows how to make each breed look its best, can be a good option. But, a dog owner is still responsible for regular brushing.
There is no shortage of groomers to choose from. Pet superstores like Petco have in-house groomers. There are small "beauty shop" type groomers, even mobile groomers that come to your home. Find one that has passed a certification program, which means they have advanced training and have had their work performance evaluated by the certifying organization, such as National Dog Groomers Association. Check out their facility for cleanliness, and the attitude of the staff. How do they treat the dogs under their care? Remember, your dog may be with them half a day or so. You want to make sure he is taken good care of. You might seek out a referral regarding a groomer from dog owners you meet at the dog park.
Ears and Eyes
Ear care is an important aspect of keeping your dog healthy. Some breeds with long ears that hang down, such as the always popular cocker spaniel, are prone to ear infections because the dark, moist environment inside their ear canals is perfect for breeding bacteria. Chronic ear infections put a burden on your dog's immune system, so it's best to keep after the problem before it gets worse. All breeds develop ear wax that needs to be cleaned out. Ear cleaning solution is readily available at any pet store. Clean out your dog's ears with a cotton ball or cloth soaked in the solution; never use cotton-tipped swab (like we use) because it is possible to injure his ear with those. A dog that shakes his ears frequently is an obvious sign of a problem. But you need to check the ears anyway and look for signs of redness, swelling, discharge or odor.
And let's not forget your dog's eyes. A dog's eyes can get irritated from dry mucus, and foreign matter like hair and pollen. There are over-the-counter eye wash products you can use to flush these out. Also, wipe the crust that sometimes appear on his skin near the tear ducts. If you notice a recurring discharge in his eyes, let your vet take a look at it; this could be a sign of infection rather than simple irritation.
You can tell when your dog's nails are too long—when he jumps up on you, he can scratch you! Long nails can also wreak havoc on wood floor and furniture. Neglecting nail trimming can cause health issues as well. Long nails can break just like ours do; this can be painful for a dog. Extremely overgrown nails can even make it difficult for your dog to walk. Nail trimming works best if done regularly and frequently, every two to four weeks or so. That way, you only have to clip off a tiny bit of nail, reducing the chances of nicking the vein in the nail, called the quick. Should that happen—and it does from time to time—bleeding can be stopped with a bit of styptic powder.
Many dogs balk at the idea of nail trimming. It makes them uncomfortable and when they squirm and fight it, chances increase that you may clip too close to the vein. You need to be extra reassuring when you first begin trimming his nails, to keep him as calm as possible. You will find over time that your dog will get used to having his nails clipped and will become much more cooperative.