Dog-Care Tips


Choose the dog that's the right size for your home space. Check out these dog pictures.
©2006 Publications International Ltd.

Dogs are known as man's best friend for good reason: They're loyal, fun, and interesting. But dogs are complex creatures that thrive when under the care of a well-informed human being. In the following article, we offer a multitude of tips on caring for a dog.

Choosing a Dog

Once you've made the commitment to buy a dog, consider what kind of dog is going to fit into your life most satisfactorily. Ask yourself the following questions:

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  • What size dog will fit into your home? Make sure you know the ultimate size of any puppy you are buying because large dogs require space.
  • Who's going to exercise the dog and take care of cleaning up after it? If your space or energy is limited, choose a dog that's a natural homebody, not an outdoors lover.
  • How much dog can you feed? The cost of dog food for large dogs can overstretch an already tight budget.
  • What's the temperament of the breed? This is unrelated to size. If you have children, make sure you get a dog that does well with children.
  • Do you want a male or female?
  • Do you want a purebred or a mutt? You'll know better what you're getting with a purebred but the cost is much higher.
  • Do you want a puppy or an adult? Puppies demand a great deal of time, attention, patience, and training but they typically adjust more easily to a new household than adult dogs.

In the next section, we'll discuss four basic dog-care tasks: feeding, bathing, grooming, and exercise.

Feeding, Bathing, Grooming, and Exercise

Long-haired dogs need bristle or wire brushes for their coats.
Long-haired dogs need bristle or wire brushes for their coats.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.

Owning a dog can be a lot of work. Among the main tasks involved in caring for your dog are feeding, bathing, grooming, and exercise.

  • Comb a long-haired dog before a bath. Then you won't have to untangle wet hair.
  • Make certain the water temperature is roughly 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Warmer or cooler water will cause your pet distress and may make it difficult to handle.
  • Wash the head, ears, and neck first. If you don't, any fleas that are on the animal will take refuge there while you clean the body.
  • To avoid getting water in your dog's ears during a bath, plug its ears with cotton balls that have been moistened with apple cider vinegar.

You can minimize the soap residue that remains after a dog's shampoo by adding some vinegar to the bath's rinse water. Then rinse the dog's coat again thoroughly with plain water.

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If your dog smells bad but there's no time to give it a bath, rub baking soda or cornstarch into its coat and brush it off.

If a skunk sprays your dog, wash the dog with tomato juice, then with shampoo and water.

Feeding Dogs

  • In general, dry dog food is more nutritious than moist dog food. Any time you get a new pet, however, check with your veterinarian for dietary recommendations.
  • Never offer your dog pork chop bones, chicken bones, or fish bones. These can splinter into sharp pieces and catch in your pet's throat.
  • If you must give your dog a bone, give only marrow or knuckle bones that have first been boiled to remove fat and grease that might cause diarrhea. Take the bone away as soon as it starts to splinter.
  • If moist pet food is not eaten within two hours, refrigerate it.
  • If you're going to change your pet's diet, do it gradually. A sudden change may be a shock to the animal's system.
  • Don't feed a dog milk. It will probably give it diarrhea.
  • On a hot day, be vigilant about your dog's water supply. Fill your pet's bowl with cold tap water and freshen it often.

Bathing Your Dog

  • Comb a long-haired dog before a bath. Then you won't have to untangle wet hair.
  • Make certain the water temperature is roughly 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Warmer or cooler water will cause your pet distress and may make it difficult to handle.
  • Wash the head, ears, and neck first. If you don't, any fleas that are on the animal will take refuge there while you clean the body.
  • To avoid getting water in your dog's ears during a bath, plug its ears with cotton balls that have been moistened with apple cider vinegar.
  • You can minimize the soap residue that remains after a dog's shampoo by adding some vinegar to the bath's rinse water. Then rinse the dog's coat again thoroughly with plain water.
  • If your dog smells bad but there's no time to give it a bath, rub baking soda or cornstarch into its coat and brush it off.
  • If a skunk sprays your dog, wash the dog with [url='365895:0']tomato juice, then with shampoo and water.

Grooming and Exercise

  • Groom short-haired dogs once or twice a week with a grooming comb. Long-haired coats need bristle or wire brushes and pet combs with rounded teeth.
  • Burrs will be easier to comb from your dog's coat if you first crush them with a pair of pliers.
  • Another good burr-remover is vegetable oil worked into the burrs. This also works for tar and other messes the dog may have gotten into. Shampoo to remove the loosened gunk and oil.
  • It's important to wash off your dog's feet in the winter because it will probably pick up salt and chemicals from the street. These substances can injure its feet. If the pads of your dog's feet become dry or cracked, rub a little petroleum jelly into them.
  • To wipe away the rheum that gathers at the corners of your dog's eyes, use a dab of cotton dipped in a boric acid solution.
  • Don't leave your dog in a car in hot weather, even if the windows are open.
  • In hot weather, it's best to exercise your dog early in the morning and late at night. Midday heat could be dangerous.

In the final section, we'll discuss some important health issues for dogs.

Health Issues

Giving a dog a pill requires a special technique.
Giving a dog a pill requires a special technique.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.

In addition to daily care, dogs sometimes develop health issues that require the attention of you or a veterinarian. Here some important suggestions regarding the health of your dog:

Worming medications are dangerous if used incorrectly. Never worm your dog with any medication not prescribed by your vet.

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If you have to give a dog liquid medication, have it stand on a towel or bath mat in the tub. Any medication that gets spilled will go in the tub and not on your carpet. Pull out the dog's lower lip at the corner to make a pouch, and use a dropper or a syringe to place the medication in the pouch, a little at a time. Rub its throat to stimulate swallowing.

To give a dog a pill, grasp its muzzle in one hand, then gently press the dog's lips over the upper teeth with your thumb on one side and your fingers on the other. Firm pressure will force the dog to open its mouth so that you can place the pill as far back in the mouth as possible with your free hand. Hold the dog's mouth closed, and rub its throat to stimulate swallowing.

If your dog won't take a pill readily, try disguising it in a piece of cream cheese, which most dogs will eat without complaint.

Don't worry about a young puppy's "garlic breath." This is normal and shows the presence of "good" bacteria in its mouth. The odor will disappear in a few months.

Keep puppies away from the droppings of other dogs. A disease known as parvovirus can be fatal to dogs who contract it. (Dogs under 6 months old are most susceptible.) Most puppies contract it through contact with infected feces. See your veterinarian about vaccinations to protect your dog from parvovirus.

As you've seen in this article, dogs require regular work and care. But the rewards make it all seem worthwhile.