LIFESTYLE

How to Take Care of A Dog: Tips And Strategies for Effective Dog Ownership

How to Take Care of A Dog
Wyatt Robinson
Written by Wyatt Robinson

The yearly cost of owning a small dog is usually around USD 420 while the cost of owning a medium sized dog is estimated to be around USD 620. It is very important to note that these figures do not include additional expenses such as collar and leash fees, neuter or spay surgery, crates, and carrier fees. All in all, before bringing home a new dog, you must be more than comfortable to meet all the cost of owning a dog and any other expense that may be incurred along the way.

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Also, you should ensure that all the necessary supplies have been purchased so as to avoid any unnecessary inconveniences. Taking care of a dog will not only require your financial input but also your time. It is important to note that your pet is going to be overly dependent on you. Hence, you must be willing to tackle all the responsibilities head-on that every dog owner is required to take.

Dog Insurance Infographic

Taking care of your dog will sometimes mean making the right decision especially when he or she is in too much pain or suffering. Euthanizing pets is a decision that many dog owners may refuse to take because they are either afraid or love their pets too much. It is very important for every dog owner to learn the importance of euthanasia or when they should make the decision.

Apart from learning the importance of euthanasia, dog owners must also learn the importance of identification and the different types of vaccines that their pets must be given. All in all here is a breakdown of how to effectively take care of a dog.

Identification

When a dog has the proper identification documents or mechanisms on it, he or she can be returned easily and safely to its owner without any complications or difficulties along the way. This is one of the main reasons why all dog owners are encouraged to attach some form of identification on their dogs. Apart from containing the dog owners contact information, a dog’s identification tag or chip also contains relevant information such as vaccination.

Many animal shelters and Good Samaritans are more than comfortable handling a dog that has a known history. In many states and counties, it is a legal requirement to have all dogs vaccinated and licensed.

External identification

For any dog, collar tags are a must and are currently the most commonly used form of external identification. By just looking at the collar tags, an animal shelter worker will immediately know that the recovered dog has a family who misses him and a home to go back to. As a dog owner, you should ensure that your pet has a collar tag at all times, whether he or she is on a leash or not.

It is also very important to ensure that all the information contained in the collar tag is as accurate as possible and should include your name, current address, phone number and also the name and number of the veterinary officer. When attaching the collar tag, always ensure that it is not very tight by slipping at least two fingers beneath the collar, easily.

External ID

Tattoos are also another form of external identification and have been used for many years to identify dogs and cats. Depending on your preference, you can either decide to choose a series of numbers or letters to be tattooed on the dog. Currently, numbers are the most preferred tattoos because, those numbers can be easily registered with several companies such as I.D Pet or the National Dog Registry. In case the dog gets lost and is located, the animal shelter will simply take the tattooed number, run it through their system and contact the dog owner.

Microchip identification

The use of microchips for dogs as a form of identification has gained an enormous amount of popularity among many dog owners and dog breeders. Unlike other forms identification that can easily come off, microchip identification is not only reliable but also very effective. In many countries like the United Kingdom, legislative measures are currently underway to ensure that microchipping for dogs becomes compulsory.

A veterinary officer usually performs the microchipping process by injecting the microchip, usually 12 mm in diameter, beneath the skin of the dog. This process is very simple and is much similar to the routine shots that the dog will be getting from time to time. It is also very important to note that this process is not painful at all, and your pet will react the way it will to a normal vaccination.

Microchipping a dog

In case he or she gets lost, the veterinarian or the shelter officer will simply scan the microchip to obtain all the necessary details needed to track you, the pet owner. Most standard issue micro chips usually contain the owner’s phone number, physical address and any other relevant information that can be used to locate the owner. All in all, as a dog owner, you should ensure that your dog becomes micro chipped before bringing him from the animal shelter or the dog breeder.

Vaccination

Vaccination is not only considered one of the easiest and most reliable way of ensuring that your pet lives a much longer and healthier life. But also ensuring that he or she does not contract any of the illnesses that are common to the canine community. It is important to note that there are different types of vaccines for different ailments. So as to ensure maximum prevention, most vaccines are usually given as a combination and not as a single dosage.

However, despite the fact that vaccines have the ability to prevent various ailments and illnesses, they also come with their risks and side effects. The timing of the vaccinations and the duration of protection has been a subject of controversy among many researchers, pet owners and dog breeders. It is very important to note that the side effects of vaccines are usually very mild and in some cases even unnoticeable.

Before working out a vaccination plan for any dog, the veterinary officer usually conducts a series of analysis and assessments to ensure that the dog will not react in any way to the vaccine.

Dog Vaccination

A vaccine is an antigen, which is used to prepare a dog’s immune system to eliminate/fight off disease-causing agents and organisms. The antigens contained in vaccines usually resembles the disease-causing agent. Thus, the body will be mildly stimulated once the vaccine is administered. In case the dog becomes exposed to the disease causing agent, his or her body will be fully prepared, thus fight off the pathogen. All in all, vaccines are exceedingly important if you are looking for an ideal way to manage your pet’s health.

However, before vaccinating your dog, you should note that some dogs may not need to be vaccinated against all diseases.

Hence, you should discuss with your veterinarian officer so that he or she may be able to come up with the right vaccination combination for the pet. Several factors such as age, health, environment, travel habits, lifestyle and many other things are all going to be kept under consideration by the veterinarian. In most cases, most veterinarians usually recommend core vaccines by assessing the risk of exposure, transferability of the disease/ ailment to humans and the risk of exposure.

Licensing

As a dog owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that the dog is properly taken care of and one of the ways, which is many times overlooked, is licensing or registration with the local government. In states such as Francisco, it is estimated that only 16 percent of the total dog population have been registered with the state government. This figure is indeed worrying because, the possibility of many dog owners getting their dogs back once they get lost or get picked up is very low.

In many states, it is compulsory for all dog owners to register their dogs or other pets with the local government. As a dog owner, it is your responsibility to check with your local government to see what is expected of every dog owner within the state or country. If the law requires every dog owner to register his or her dog, those who do not register their pets are usually fined heavily. Depending on the area of jurisdiction, there is usually a certain period where you will be required to renew your dog’s license and many times this period is usually one year.

Another reason you should obtain a license for your pet is that in case he or she goes missing, you will stand a higher chance of getting him or her back. This is because the license tag usually contains useful information that can be used to track down the dog owner.

Furthermore, licensed dogs are usually kept in animal shelters for a longer duration of time than unlicensed dogs that are usually euthanized if their respective dog owners do not claim them. Finally, a license lets people know that the dog is up to date with all of his or her vaccines. Thus increasing the chances of a Good Samaritan or animal shelter taking good care of the pet because he or she will not put their lives at risk.

Depending on your locale, the licensing fee for dogs is usually between 10USD and 20USD or more especially if the dog will be spayed or neutered. In some cases, you may receive full or partial discounts on the license fee depending on the dog owner’s areas of residence or the intended responsibilities of the dog. Dogs that are to be trained as signal dogs or guide dogs are usually given free licensing. Also, there are also other states or countries that offer dog owners with a once in a lifetime license as a one-time payment at a discounted rate.

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There are several ways in which you can acquire a license for your dog. You can either decide to head over to your local licensing department, or alternatively you can choose to apply for the license through the mail. Existing licenses are usually renewed online hence you do have to apply once again through the mail or to head over to the local licensing department. All you will be required to do is to provide your credit card or debit card number, and it will be charged.

Regular checkups

Regardless as to whether you keep a keen eye on the dog’s personal health, a yearly visit to the veterinarian will not only mean extra peace for you but also for the dog. Regular checkups and visits to the vetinararian will not only assist you identify newly incipient problems before they end up being serious but will also give you the dog owner the ultimate chance to ensure that his or her vaccines are up to date. Since regular checkups are crucial for detecting changes in a dog’s health, it should be done as regularly as possible.

Many times, these checkups must be conducted on a yearly basis at the very least though the number of visits for older dogs is much more. During the visits, the veterinarian will conduct a series of medical analysis and assessment such as listening to the dog’s lungs and heart. Checking for skin complications and disorders, palpating the dog’s abdomen and many others.

Regular checkups

Regular visits to the veterinary officer will ensure that the dog’s vaccines are always up to date. There are several vaccines that will require frequent vaccination such as adenovirus, distemper, leptovirus, parvovirus, Bordatella, and parainfluenza. Rabies vaccination is usually one of the requirements that your dog will be required to meet if you will want to take him or her out of the country.

During the regular visits and checkups, you will also be required to discuss with the veterinarian about fleas and ticks. It is very important to note that fleas and ticks have the ability to live in the garden or house up to one year and in the process will transmit very serious diseases to your pet. Depending on the analysis conducted, the veterinarian officer may also decide to advice on roundworm and tapeworm prevention procedures. During the visits, you will also be required to discuss, the dog’s behavior especially if you have noted any unusual behavior over the last year.

Unusual behaviors such as excessive barking, hyperactivity, destruction of property such as shoes can be effectively managed in the early stages. It is important to note that the veterinary can also choose to refer you to a trained behaviorist. During the regular visits, the veterinary officer will also conduct a medical analysis on the dog’s dental health and hygiene so as to establish as to whether the dog requires dental cleaning or not. The regular visit will also present you, the dog owner with the perfect opportunity to evaluate and analyze the dental care program you had devised for your pet.

Weight obesity and feeding

Obesity is also a common problem that most dogs face and through regular checkups you will not only discuss your pet’s body condition but also monitor his or her health. If the dog is overweight, you can ask the veterinary officer for an effective exercise and diet plan or a possibility of joining a weight loss program conducted by your local veterinary officer. On the other if your dog is suffering weight loss due to an unknown reason, he or she can be screened for diseases or any other ailments.

Spaying and neutering

Irrespective as to whether you have recently acquired a dog, or you are planning to get one, spaying or neutering is going to be one of the most important decisions that you are going to make. Spaying is the removal of the uterus and ovaries of the female dog while on the other hand Neutering is the removal of testicles of a male dog. Both procedures are very critical and will require minimal hospitalization hence you can always keep your pet close to home while he or she is recuperating.

In most states and countries, there are various programs that have been kept in place to ensure that spaying and neutering procedures are not only accessible but also readily available. All in all, there are several reasons why you as a dog owner, should either neuter or spay your pet.

Research indicates that spaying can prevent uterine infections together with breast cancer that is fatal in dogs. For the maximum protection against these diseases, you should consider spaying the dog before her first heat. Also, spaying also prevents female dogs from going into heat. Despite the fact that monthly cycles may vary from one dog to another, female felines will go into heat for four to five days for every three weeks during the mating season.

Spraying and Neutering

When searching for mates, they usually howl and also urinate all over the place so that they can inform male dogs that they are ready to mate. Through spaying, you will be able to prevent this mess from happening. Like spaying, neutering has also been found to provide male dogs with numerous health benefits like preventing testicular cancer. But for the neutering to be effective, it has to be done when the dog is six months of age.

In addition, neutering also ensures that male dogs do not roam far away from home so as to search for mates. When male dogs are on heat, they will do right about anything so that they may be able to find a mate. Apart from digging under the fence, the dog may also look for other escape routes that he may be able to find. While on the run, the male may get injured especially when trying to cross the roads alone.

Feeding and dieting

All adult dogs will require abundant nutrients so that they can be able to maintain their energy supplies and also repair any body tissue or cell that may be damaged. When feeding the dog, the amount/quantity of food should be directly proportional to his or her body size and energy output. It is very important to note that the activity level will vary from one dog to another, thus playing a significant impact on the calorific intake.

As an accountable dog owner, you will be required to watch for overfeeding which is one of the most common pitfalls when feeding your pet. Do not try to treat the dog with huge chunks of meat or meals. This could have serious effects on the dog’s general health and wellbeing.

The activity level between house pets usually varies from one dog to another. Pets with normal activity level should receive what is normally termed as maintenance energy. If the dog is a pampered lap dog, then he or she is going to require meals that are about 10 percent below the maintenance energy meals. Active pets that are usually exercising on the outside should be given the maintenance energy meals plus 20 to 40 percent on top.

Dog feeding

On the other hand, working dogs such as cattle dogs, guide dogs, and police dogs will depend on the occupation and level activity in which they will be exposed. The level of energy tends to increase the work rate and levels of stress increases. If the pet is going to have a normal workload, then he or she is going to require a significant amount of energy levels of up to 40 percent of the maintenance energy.

On the other hand, if the dog is going to have a higher workload then he or she is going to require 50 to 70 percent plus the maintenance energy levels. In case your animal falls ill or is recovering from surgery, he or she is going to require an increase of nutrients.

The increase of nutritional intake will ensure that the damaged tissues and cells are effectively repaired or if there was any infection the body was going to fight it off effectively. Finally, it has been proven, that the weather and environment can both influence the amount of energy that will be required by your dog. Depending on how hot or cold your area of residence is, your dog may either require excess or limited amounts of food. Before you start your feeding program, you may want to talk with your local veterinary officer so that you can devise an appropriate feeding program.

Exercises and grooming

Just like humans, dogs also need to burn excess fats, keep healthy, and ensure that their minds are properly stimulated. Through exercises, dogs are also able to avoid boredom that many times will lead to destructive behaviors. It is important to note that all exercises and games that are conducted under supervision are not only fun but will also satisfy the dog’s need to either dig, chase, retrieve or herd. The type and amount of exercises usually vary from one dog to another because it will depend on the dog’s breed age, sex, health and many other factors.

Dog grooming

Dogs from the working, sports or terrier dog breeds will require an intensive set of exercises when compared to the non-working breeds such as Bulldogs. Furthermore, old dogs tend to require a small amount of exercise, unlike the young dogs that are usually playful in nature.

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Just like exercising grooming is also very essential. As a dog owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that your dog is always clean at all times and also reduce shedding by brushing regularly. While grooming your pet, you can also check out for ticks and fleas especially during the warm weathers.

All in all, most dogs will require occasionally baths throughout the year. Before bathing your dog, you will be required to cut carefully or comb any mat from the dog’s coat. Once you are done cleaning the coat, you will be required to rinse out all the soap or otherwise dirt will end up sticking on his or her coat.

Housing

Your dog is going to require a warm and quite place so that he or she can rest. The place of resting must be far away from the floor or windows so that he or she may not get sick due to low temperatures. In most cases, a training crate is usually an ideal choice though you can alternatively decide to purchase a dog bed or construct one from wood. After finding an ideal bed, you will then place a piece of blanket or a pillow on the bed.

So as to ensure that your pet is not attacked by fleas and ticks, it is essential to ensure the beddings are always clean. If the dog likes to spend most of his or her time on the outside, you can always ensure that he or she has access to shade and safe drinking water. If the weather gets cold, you will ensure that the resting place is not only warm but also dry.

Training

There have been debates over the use of rewards as many people often tend to use punishment as a training tool. Irrespective as to which training technique or procedure that you will decide to use, effective dog training will always come down to the ability to control all the sequences of a dog’s behavior. If you are looking for an effective way to influence the way your dog responds, you will be required to provide rewards for the behaviors that you will like.

Thoughts on dog training

Instead of punishing the pet, you can choose not to reward him or her for the behaviors that are not acceptable. When teaching your dog new techniques or skills, you should ensure that the training sessions are not only short but also very entertaining.

Also, when ending a session remember to stop the session when you are ahead so that the session ends on a good note. Also be sure to end the session when either you or the pet is either tired, frustrated or bored. Finally be sure to take baby steps so that he or she will be able to obtain as much as he or she can from the session.

About the author
Wyatt Robinson
Wyatt Robinson

Wyatt Robinson had a great 25-years career as a veterinarian in United Kingdom. He used to be a member of British Veterinary Association and worked in 3 pet hospitals in London and Manchester. He is shining when he sees his pets healthy and full of energy and it is his duty to help other dog owners to keep their best friends full of life.

  • Seth Weaseley

    Training is probably the toughest thing every owner must do, I managed to train my own with rewards — food of course :)

    • Wyatt Robinson

      Very well said, Seth! Just don’t overdo with the treats and rewards because they have this talent to keep you giving them more than they should have!

  • Daniella Roberts

    My family is considering spaying our female beagle. Does anyone here have a pet that has undergone spaying? Any changes in your dog’s behavior? Is it safe? We’re having fears…

    • Wyatt Robinson

      This is a common misconception about spaying. While there can be slight behavioural changes (primarily due to discomfort), it does not change the dog’s personality in any way.

  • Kathy Peters

    My dog is on Nexgard and I also periodically clean and vacuum his beddings, give him baths. Recently, I found a flea on him. Must have gotten it when he went outside where he enjoys playing. I was told about Nyguard and Archer. Wondering which one should I get? I hate warm weather just because of those pesky fleas!

    • Wyatt Robinson

      Both brands are great, but make sure you are using them as per recommended dose and frequency to avoid sensitivity or adverse reaction. Fleas are quite seasonal, but keeping the yard and house clean reduces its frequency.

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