Easy Tips on Taking Great Care of Your Dog

With spring here, you're definitely going to want to spend more time outside with your dog. This is the perfect time to begin getting both you and your dog ready to take full advantage of the upcoming seasons.

Taking care of your dog is a year round responsibility.  So by taking note of these few tips I have for you, you will be ready to prevent or catch problems before they become serious (such as heartworm and parasite control, which are recommended as the weather turns warm), and give your dog the gift of health.

One keynote is you should keep a detailed medical file on your pet(s) to remind you when vaccines are due, when the last fecal sample was checked and what special seasonal events are required, such as a trip to the groomer or obedience training.

Let’s explore some of the common areas that you should focus on learning all you can so you’ll be best prepared for whatever comes you and your dog’s way!


1. Parasites

No doubt about it, warm weather equals lots of parasites lurking in those places outdoors where our dogs love to stick their noses, chew, and even roll themselves in. But with a little planning and some medical help, your dog can be kept parasite free. Ticks, fleas, heartworms and intestinal worms are the primary culprits you need to be on guard against! Your veterinarian has medications available to prevent these parasites from infesting your dog and eliminate the parasites if already present.  If you’ve become proactive and taken out pet insurance for your dog, check your policy to see what treatments are covered.  Most seasonal applications are covered under even the basic plans.

There are topical and oral medications available to prevent and treat tick infestations. And it’s just a good habit to build to give your dog a “one over” to see if any such parasites have jumped on him during your outing.  If you do find a tick , carefully remove it with tweezers or tick removal instrument.  Be gentle but get that sucker off!!!  Preventing fleas is much easier than treating an already established flea infestation. Topical and oral medications are very effective in keeping your pet's flea problem to a minimum. If fleas are allowed to proliferate, the environment, home and yard, must be treated in addition to the pet, and that’s just a royal pain in the butt!!!

Heartworm, or more precisely, canine heartworm disease, is a potentially fatal infestation of worms that travel throughout the body until maturity, when they take up residence in the dog's heart. Transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito, heartworms are a threat to the dog population throughout most of North America. Microscopic larvae from an infected animal's blood is ingested by a mosquito, and then passed on again in the same fashion, to a new animal. If you have mosquitoes, you need to worry about heartworms.  Common symptoms are:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing
  • Lack of energy
  • Listlessness
  • Weight loss
  • Fur texture changes: rougher, more coarse


Preventing canine heartworm disease can be quite simple, as there are a variety of over-the-counter treatments that are very effective and easy to use.


It seems as though our dog’s diet is “what’s on the menu” when it comes to conversation right now.  Mainly due to the tragic pet food recall last year, we’ve begun to really look at what’s in our dog’s food, not what is on the price tag.  As with maintaining our proper health, diet is a cornerstone that can make the world of difference for your dog.  Many people like that dogs are simply carnivorous. Well the truth is they do not just need to eat meat.  Contrary to what many people think, they also need carbohydrates. A diet consisting of 50 percent of protein or meat and 50 percent of carbohydrates is preferred for dogs.  Making sure they get foods with a good supply of minerals, vitamins, and essential oils and fats is crucial.  It will help them look healthier and be healthier.  And ever wonder why your dog runs to eat grass?  They do need dark, leafy greens also!  They naturally understand the value of its fiber in helping digestion and clean their system.  Be sure to stay away from the well-known “people” poisons of chocolate, raisins, and grapes, but in all honesty, my dog is still vibrant and spunky at the ripe old age of 14 and we’ve not been shy about feeding her some of our food from the table on regular occasion.  Nutrition is nutrition.


2. Aesthetics

A regular groom is recommended. Dog’s ears should be cleaned, removing the wax and dirt every week. Ear cleaning also helps you detect the presence of ear mites or infections. The dog should also be bathed weekly with warm water and dog shampoo.


3. Veterinary Care

It is a good idea to make sure that a vet sees your dog regularly.

Dogs are prone to a wide array of illnesses and diseases and it is best that he gets vaccinated against these. 


4. Activity

Aside from their health, dogs exercising will prevent them from retrieving and chasing, digging, and chewing on various things. Exercises depend on your dog’s sex, age, and health level. A dog likes to jog, fetch, and race a lot. One warning however, start slow in exercising your dog. Unfortunately, some dogs enjoy themselves so much when they do these exercises, they won't know when to stop.

In the spring, outdoor activities tend to increase. Some people don't realize that after a long winter of being cooped up, exercise must be started slowly. Your pet is not prepared for long excursions outside. If your dog exercises too quickly, his muscles, heart, lungs and internal heat control cannot keep up. Be aware that due to this lack of understanding, springtime is the most common time for heat related illness, including heat stroke.


5. Training
The popularity of dog parks is increasing. When properly used, dog parks are great fun for you and your dog. Without appropriate preparation, dog parks can result in illness or tragedy. In addition to exposure to contagious diseases, dogs without proper obedience training can be a threat to other dogs. In an attempt to join a pack or play, some dogs become aggressive and a fight may ensue. Springtime is an excellent time to begin obedience training or take a refresher course. An obedient dog is a happy healthy dog.


Having a dog does not end with just putting the money down, it is a really big responsibility. Although it may be quite a bit of work and frustration sometimes, the amount of joy and fun your puppy will bring into your life is amazing.  And it only increases when you see your dog is healthy and loves you for it.


Brandon James


You can read more of Brandon James’ articles in past issues of The Scoop in The Scoop Archive.


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