Basic dog care tips are the general health and safety practices that should be maintained for a dog. Adopting a dog is always a great idea, but also a great responsibility. A dog needs to be cared for, just like an infant. As your dog grows from puppy to senior, you’ll need to adjust how you take care of them. You must be observant enough to understand the meaning of all his snuffs, grunts and barks, and wise enough to fathom his condition and problems. Moreover, only commitment and care will earn you that tail wag.
So, before we begin, these are the three primary things you must make sure you have before adopting a dog:
–Time for your dog’s care
–Space for your dog’s growth
–Passion for your dog in total
The absence of any one of the above, can result in a very sad and unhealthy dog. You don’t want that, right? So, here are the top ten basic dog care tips you must follow for your dog.
1. APPROPRIATE BREED
This one tops the basic dog care tips for a very strong reason. One must prepare to adopt a dog breed according to the local climate in their area. Yes, this is the most important tip to keep in mind, especially if you want to be 50% relaxed in terms of dog care.
Here’s an instance: My friend from Mumbai (India) ended up getting a Saint Bernard out of mere craze. Mumbai has a moderately hot climate with high levels of humidity, almost throughout the year. On the other hand, a Saint Bernard is a cold region dog, not meant for the tropical Indian weather. Though my friend tried hard to make that pup adapt, yet, sadly, the pup did not survive. Choosing a dog, according to its suitable climate, is the foremost step in caring for a dog.
Like babies, dogs must be vaccinated to make them immune to the diseases that can happen to them. So, as soon as you adopt a dog, you must drive straight to a vet. Your veterinarian will guide you as to which diseases are common in the area and the necessary vaccines to be given to the dog. Particularly, there is a proper vaccination schedule for a dog from puppy to adulthood. The puppy shots usually start between 6–8 weeks of age, with new vaccines and boosters given every 3–4 weeks until the puppy is 16–17 weeks old, whereas adult dogs generally need to be vaccinated yearly or three-yearly, depending on the disease.
Core vaccines, like vaccines for canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis and rabies, are considered vital to all dogs. Vaccinations will not only protect your dog from life-threatening diseases, but also you and other humans, if the dog accidentally scratches or bites someone.
Usually underrated, but one of the most significant basic dog care tips, is deworming. Your vet will give your dog an oral medicine (dewormer) or a shot to kill the worms. Common worms are controllable with a deworm routine for puppies. They should be dewormed every two weeks until twelve weeks of age, then monthly until six months of age. After six months all dogs need to be dewormed every three months for effective protection. Once you learn the oral deworming routine from your vet, you can follow the same at home. Easy-peasy!
Quick Tip: While cooking your dog’s food, it is advisable to add small amounts of Turmeric, a natural ingredient, along with some coconut oil.
4. PROPER IDENTIFICATION
This is one step dog owners tend to forget- to add an identifier to their dog. Give it a thought, how would you find your fur buddy, god forbid, if he gets lost someday? If you want this situation to end well, then, having proper identification is the answer. Begin with the basics: a safe collar (a reflective collar is what I use for my dogs), a tag on the collar containing your contact information, and socialization. Socializing your dog with your neighbors, friends and relatives always turns out to be a great idea in emergency situations.
Furthermore, do keep photographs of your dog, especially in his health record book. This way, vets and pharmacists too will record and recognize your dog. Additionally, microchipping your dog is recommended, since there’s always a chance of the collar falling off. A microchip is an electronic device that contains your contact information. The chip, about the size of a rice grain, implanted under your dog’s skin, is readable by a scanner. Together, these efforts will go a long way in reuniting you and your precious dog.
Nutrition implies ‘quality and quantity’. Thus, firstly, a healthy diet for a dog must consist of natural foods loaded with proteins, carbs, fiber and broth. Also, processed and packed foods which have artificial supplements must not be a considered a staple food for dogs, but sometimes can be given as treats. Secondly, quantity of food differs from pups to adult dogs. Puppies need to be fed four times a day, but once they reach six months, a meal a day (or two smaller ones) is sufficient for a well-balanced diet.
Furthermore, water is an important element for a dog. These energetic creatures need to stay hydrated all the time, so, make sure to provide clean and fresh water throughout the day. Food and water must be given only in stainless steel bowls and not in plastic. Remember, dogs will always be hungry or look at you with those big, sad eyes like they haven’t eaten for days. Pamper them enough, but do not over feed your dogs, as it may lead to obesity and heart issues. Dietary requirements do change with the season. Dogs tend to have less solid food and more fluids during summers.
6. EXERCISING & TRAINING
Exercising, not really your thing? Don’t worry, you and your dog can have a lot of fun together and still not know that you’re actually exercising. Moreover, the best forms of exercise for any animal are the activities they would naturally do. These are a few exciting activities, I guarantee, you and your dog will definitely enjoy.
- Don’t walk your dog, instead, let your dog walk you. Believe me, it’s fun. I simply follow my dog and that ‘GPS Nose’ of his, surprises me every single day.
- Fetch- This is the easiest and most fun activity you two can do, even without a ball/Frisbee/toy. Yes, you read that right. With my dogs, I play fetch with old wooden sticks/barks from trees. It’s natural and the dogs love chewing them after numerous rounds of play; moreover, it’s free.
- For dogs, playing with other dogs is the best sport. If your dog has no other siblings, then you can either get your dog a play date or role play it yourself. (With my dogs, I go wild, do the ‘stealth mode’ and the pouncing-action and play ‘tug & war’, and they absolutely love it.)
- Noticing zoomies? Make use of them. ‘Zoomies’ are those sudden mad races your dog makes around the house. Usually, puppies and younger dogs get these, as they are continuously growing and need more exercising. Make sure, you play along and do not control that sudden outburst of energy. Zoomies can turn out to be exciting play sessions.
7. AT-HOME CARE
While good hygiene habits are essential for a healthy dog, unlike humans, most dogs require occasional hygiene and grooming habits. Some general home care tips are as follows:
- Dental Care – Dogs naturally care for their teeth by gnawing on hard items. A good long chew helps scrape away plaque and dirt. Natural choices include rawhide bones, knuckle bones and dry foods. Alternatively, fingertip style toothbrushes and food-flavored canine toothpastes are great choices for your dog’s oral hygiene.
- Eye Care – Dogs usually tend to develop tear stains. So, it’s important to keep your dog’s eye clean at all times. Preferably, I use medical grade cotton balls dipped in warm water to clean my dogs’ eyes, whenever necessary.
- Ear Care – Only, a veterinarian-approved liquid ear-cleanser is strongly recommended. To clean your dog’s ear, squeeze the cleanser in the ear canal, enough to fill it; then gently massage the ear base for about 20 seconds. Remove the dirt, if any, with a clean wipe. Repeat process for the other ear. Remember to be gentle.
- Ticks & Fleas – Dog pests are not uncommon to find, especially with plants, trees and other animals present in the environment. Ears, paws, neck, tummy area: always keep a special check on these areas of your dog. In addition, it’s wise to use any flea & tick shampoo for your dog, at least once in every 4 baths.
- Grooming – Like every dog parent, I take pride in grooming my dogs. Irrespective of hair-length, a dog’s hair must be brushed regularly, as it promotes blood circulation in the body. Failing to do so can result in matted hair in long-haired breeds and severe skin issues in general. Always brush your dog’s hair before bathing him. More importantly, do not bathe your dog quite often. Give Pluto a bath only when he’s dirty or smelly. Excessive bathing washes away the natural skin oils from a dog’s coat, causing severe skin issues.
Additionally, dogs’ nails need to be trimmed, regularly. Usually, a game of fetch on a coarse sandstone floor works for my dogs. Using a nail clipper after bathing them, will make it easier for you. Make sure, you keep aside plenty of time, use proper dog-grooming equipment and choose a well-lit area, for your dog’s grooming. Be calm and patient, remember, dogs can sense your stress.
8. TRAINING & SOCIALIZING
Training is exercising your dog’s brain. Besides, it’s always helpful to teach your dog a new skill. Basic obedience commands should be introduced from puppyhood. But, if you adopt an adult dog, still, there is enough room for basic training. Be sure, dogs are quick learners. Additionally, you can find some silly, fun behavior to teach your dog, like high fiving or hopping on command. A reward system works for all dogs. Reward them with treats when you get the required behavior. Remember to keep it fun and simple. Ultimately, you want your dog to be happy and obedient, and not scared. Hence, patience is the key.
Likewise, socializing your dog is equally important. Dogs that meet other dog friends and human friends, live a healthier and happier life. The good news is, a dog can be socialized at any time of its life. Walks, play dates, overnight stays, car rides, park meetings, exploration, etc., provide enough opportunities for a dog to socialize.
9. CONTROL CROSS-BREED DOG LITTER
Practically, it is always good to avoid an unwanted litter. But, if you plan to breed your dog or are opposed to spaying and neutering, then it is advisable to take appropriate measures to prevent cross-breed mating. Potentially, the negative aspects of cross breeding include, a strong chance for producing litters with congenital health issues and high-risk deliveries.
To care better for your precious dog, it is very important for you to be a good communicator. Good communication results in good coordination. The more you communicate with your dog, the better it will cooperate. Furthermore, paring cue words with hand signals and body language works best for your fur buddy. Keep in mind, dogs are experts at reading and noticing body language because that is how they communicate to other dogs.
Dogs make us more humane. Indeed, they remind us we have an obligation to preserve, nurture and care for all lives. Systematically following these basic dog care tips, you can kill two birds with one stone. First, you will naturally have a healthy dog and second, you will be free from unnecessary dog care expenditure. Voilà! Hope these basic dog care tips come handy for you and your fur baby.