A dog really is for life, and when you make the decision to add a furry friend to your family, it’s a massive commitment. Dogs live between ten to thirteen years on average, and so by getting a dog, you are committing a decade or more of your life to looking after them and being the best owner you can possibly be. One of the ways you can do this is by making sure you are preventing illnesses, seeking treatment as soon as it’s needed and doing everything you can to keep your dog happy and healthy. Here are some of the ways you can do so at each different stage in their lives.
When puppies are first born, they will receive a limited amount of immunity from their mothers. But by the age of eight weeks (the ideal time to take a puppy home), they will need added protection before you can take them out. A vet visit for a checkup is crucial when you first get your pup. It’s a good opportunity to get them microchipped, and the vet will check their weight, coat, eyes, ears, mouth, heart and breathing. It means you can ask any questions, and receive invaluable advice for things like feeding, medication, training and socializing. Some vets even have puppy meet groups, so your furry friend has the chance to mix. This is useful when they are still young, as it prevents them becoming fearful or aggressive when they get older. Your puppy will receive two sets of vaccinations a couple of weeks apart from each other. This gives them immunity to all kinds of diseases that can be very unpleasant and even fatal, so it’s absolutely crucial these don’t get missed. More information about the diseases these vaccinations protect against can be found on websites including http://www.ennisvetclinic.ie/dog-healthcare/puppy-and-booster-vaccinations/.
When your puppy is young, you will want to expose them to as many new situations as possible. Going out in the car, riding on public transport, meeting new people and animals, hearing a variety of different sounds, being bathes. They are adaptable when they are young, so getting them used to these things now is essential for a well-rounded, balanced and sociable pooch. Another thing to be aware of with puppies is that they can get into mischief which can potentially end up in them getting hurt. Squeezing into places they shouldn’t be and eating things that they shouldn’t are just two of the dangers that are particularly problematic with younger dogs. Making sure your home and garden are completely puppy proof is critical to prevent them from becoming ill or injured. Make sure there is nothing that could topple or fall on your puppy, and chemicals, wires and anything else are all securely put away. Puppies have been known to chew and swallow inedible items which can lead to intestinal blockages or poisoning so be extremely careful.
Start training as early as possible with your puppy. This helps to strengthen bonds and shows them you are their leader. Once a puppy understands your commands, it can make things much easier and safer in the household too. Getting potty training down as early as possible will make things much less intense too since you won’t be constantly having to clean up after them! You can do this more quickly than you think since dogs are smart creatures, you just need to know what you’re doing. An article like this https://www.lovethatpet.com/dogs/getting-started/how-to-toilet-train-your-puppy-in-3-days/ could give you advice.
Young Adult and Adult Dogs
As adorable as puppies are, it can be something of a relief when they grow up a bit. Adult dogs that have been properly trained will respond to their name and do what you ask meaning they are much easier to look after. Adult dogs tend to be less energetic and more relaxed too, less interested in eating and chewing everything in sight meaning you don’t have to keep eyes on them at all times. Your dog’s adult years are when they will need the most exercise, so getting into a good routine is useful. Some dogs naturally need more than others, so work out roughly how long you need to be out walking with your dog each day to keep them happy. Dogs that are bored can be destructive and generally unhappy, so it is one thing you will absolutely need to get right. Each year you should visit your vet for your dog’s booster injections (this will top up their immunity to disease and are essential if you need to board your dog in kennels at any point) and a general checkup. As your dog grows, be sure to check that you are feeding them the right amount and that your worming and flea medication is the correct dose and based on their weight.
Allowing your dog to chew on bones (always raw, never cooked as they can splinter) as well as other hard treats such as plastic dog bones can help to keep their teeth in good condition. Feeding dry food as opposed to wet is also better for your dog’s teeth. Even if they have turned their nose up at dry food before, see if you can find a brand they will eat. And remember, dogs will never willingly starve themselves. Eventually when they ae hungry, enough they will eat what you give them, once they know holding out for something better won’t work!
At the age of seven, your dog is classed as a senior. For many dogs this may only be the halfway point in their lives so doesn’t seem like they’re ‘old,' it just means that they need some additional care. You could switch their food to a senior variety which will provide them with the vitamins and minerals they need as they get older. You could add supplements to their diet, dasuquin, for example, has been shown to help with dogs joints. This can be bought from places like https://www.petcarerx.com/dasuquin-for-dogs/13012. Cod liver oil is another good choice and is safe for dogs promoting healthy joints. This is useful in older dogs who can begin to develop arthritis.
Another way you can care for your dog as they age is by changing up your exercise routine. Keeping up with the same fast pace they have throughout their lives can lead to injuries when dogs are out on their walks and excited it’s easy for them to ignore pain. It’s only when you’re back home you might notice stiffening or a limp. In some cases such as with torn ACL ligaments, surgery is needed to repair it. Take it a bit easier when your dog gets older, exercise is of course still extremely important but don’t let them overdo it. Buying an orthopedic dog bed is beneficial for senior dogs. Something to support their bones and joints but isn’t so soft they struggle getting out of it is your best bet. Loads of places online and pet stores sell these so you shouldn’t have an issue finding something within your budget.
One of the things to bear in mind about older dogs is they can be prone to dental issues. Years of bacteria and plaque building up may start to take effect and cause problems in later life. Getting your dog used to having their teeth brushed as a puppy can help to prevent this. But if it’s gone past that stage, some dogs simply won’t let you get a toothbrush in their mouth. If it’s causing them enough pain to stop eating or you’re noticing an atrocious smell, having their teeth cleaned by a vet may be the best option. Here they’re put under anesthetic allowing the vet good access to their mouth so they can clean the teeth and remove any that are rotten. Be careful giving older dogs hard treats and bones since this may cause damage to teeth with pre-existing issues. Examples of treats for older dogs can be found on places like http://www.graypooch.com/dog-treats-and-cookies.html.
There’s a lot to owning a dog, but they are so worth it. Ask any dog owner! The love you have for your furry best friend really is like no other. They’re great company, funny, sweet and loyal. If you’re in a good situation to get a dog, for example, you’re financially stable with a suitable house and you’re not out all the time then it’s something you won’t regret. Just be sure to think very carefully, don’t jump into the decision and be prepared to be in it for the long haul. There are already far too many abandoned animals in shelters, so you don’t want to be adding to that number.
Do you own dogs, or are you thinking of getting one? What advice would you give to someone thinking about getting a puppy?