The Importance of Health and Nutrition (for Dogs)

Happy child playing with dog

Taking care of your dog is important for his health and well being. Your dog is a part of your family and depends on you for all of his needs. As your family member, you want to ensure that he has the proper nutrition to remain active and happy. Here are some tips on proper nutrition for your baby.

Seven Essential Nutrients

The most important nutrient for your dogs health is water. His body is made up of about 60 percent water, and puppy’s bodies contain 84 percent water. Loss of that can cause problems that are difficult to overcome. You want to make sure that you keep him properly hydrated daily.

Carbohydrates and fats are both high in energy which is essential for proper nutrition. Fats are available in plant and animal products, and dry dog food usually contains at least half percentage of carbohydrates.

Vitamins are essential to help your dog process biochemicals which are chemicals created and used by people. Minerals aid with nerve conduction, and egg protein or chicken breast protein powder is especially important for dogs because they are carnivorous animals.

Foods to Avoid

There are certain foods that you shouldn’t feed your dog because they can cause serious health issues or even death. Some of them include:

  • Chocolates and sugar
  • Caffeine products
  • Citrus extracts
  • Dairy products
  • Onions and garlic

You should make sure your dog doesn’t have bones which can splinter and cause major intestinal problems. Fatty foods are also bad for a dog’s digestive system.

Many people feed their dog table scraps when they are eating or when they’ve finished. This is a bad idea because there are things in food like garlic and onions that can cause issues. Another reason is the more your dog eats scraps, the less they will be likely to eat their food which can cause a lack in the proper nutrients they need.

Treats are good as a snack or to reward your dog for something they do. Some treats have other ingredients that are good for dogs that may not be found in their food.

Obesity in Dogs

Overfeeding your dog or not allowing him to exercise enough can cause obesity. 40 to 50 percent of dogs end up becoming overweight at some point in their lives. Because of this, they have a better chance of contracting diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

Supplements

Adding supplements to your dog’s diet can be a good way to ensure that he gets the proper nutrients he needs especially when he gets older. There are supplements for arthritis and joints, skin and coat, food supplements for digestion and extra nutritional supplements. Antioxidants slow the aging process by protecting the body from damage of free radicals, and multi-vitamins provide essential nutrients for the entire body.

There are supplements available for different ages, health issues and breeds. Your veterinarian can recommend a good supplement for your dog according to his needs.

What Proper Nutrition Does for Your Dog

Proper nutrition allows your dog to grow and develop in a healthy manner. Your dog will remain mentally and physically well. Puppies should be eating dry dog food by the age of eight weeks old, and they require twice the energy than an adult dog. It’s best to get your puppy a food that contains at least 30 percent protein.

Proper nutrition allows your dog to have good muscle tone, their skin and coat will remain healthy and their digestion system will work properly. It also allows the immune system to work well with less chance of your dog contracting an illness.

What to Look for in Dog Food

You should always read the label on your dog’s food before buying it to ensure that it contains quality pet food ingredients. On higher quality food, a meat will be listed as the first or second ingredient. This means that the food has a high percentage of protein in it. Make sure that the food you buy him is fit for his age. Outdoor dogs will need a higher amount of protein because they are more active. Working dogs and puppies require more calories. Your vet can help you determine which dog food is essential for your dog’s health.

Overall

You dog is and will always be a big part of your family. He depends on you to ensure that he has the proper nutrition to remain healthy. He provides you with unconditional love and is there for you whenever you want him to be. Show him how much you love him by providing him with a healthy diet, and he will provide you with that love for many years.

Proper Bathing and Hygiene for your Dog

dog wrapped in bath towel

We all want our pets to have good hygiene. After all, they kiss us and even share our beds. Even though we are busier than ever, we need to find the time to groom our dogs on a regular basis. It is very important to the health and happiness of your dog.

Bathing

The most obvious pace to start is to bathe your dog. Vets recommend bathing dogs once or twice every three months. If your dog just went for a good roll in the mud, you should still give it a bath. After all, you want your dog and your house to be clean. However, dogs have thin, sensitive skin. When over-bathed, their skin can become irritated and dry. Their fur can tangle and lose its shine.

Be sure to brush your dog’s hair prior to bathing. This will remove matted hair and keep your dog from shedding in the house. Many people like to bath their dogs outside. The bathtub or sink works too. Don’t put shampoo and water on your pet’s head, since their ears and eyes are sensitive. It is better to wash your pet’s face with a damp washcloth.

Tip: If your pet tends to dislike bath time, give them a toy to play with to distract them.

Oral Care

We know how important it is to brush our own teeth. It is no less important for your pet. It is best to start brushing their teeth when they are puppies, so they get used to the practice. However, you can start at any time. Let them get used to your hand in and near their mouth by rubbing your finger on their lips and gums. Then, graduate to an actual brush once they are comfortable. It is recommended to use a toothbrush and toothpaste formulated for dogs specifically. Don’t use a human toothbrush; it can hurt their gums. Doggy toothpaste tastes like meat or cheese, so they actually like it. It may take some time and lots of treats before they are comfortable. That is fine.

Most vets recommend brushing two to six times a week. Without regular brushing, many dogs have gum disease by 3 or 4 years old. So, the sooner you start the better. Chew toys and special treats also help with plaque and tartar build up. Plus, your pet loves them!

Tip: Only brush the outside of their teeth since plaque doesn’t build up on the inside. Always brush in a circular motion, not side to side.

Grooming

We all love our pets, but sometimes their fur is just too much! To avoid your couch becoming a hairball (and needing to hire a cleaning service), it is best to brush your dog’s fur once a week. If your dog has fine or long hair, you should brush their hair on a daily basis. Brushing your pet’s hair reduces tangles, removes dirt, and distributes natural oils. It is a mini-bath for your pet.

Tip: Always brush away from the skin not towards it. Don’t forget the tail.

Nails and Feet

Cutting your dog’s nails can be a challenge, especially if either of you had an unpleasant experience in the past. Always use special dog nail clippers or scissors, not those made for humans. A rotary tool can be used but will take longer. Never cut into the quick, it is painful for your pup. If you do cut it, put a little cornstarch on the quick to stop the bleeding. If your dog is fearful of the nail cutting process, don’t force the situation. Use treats, and praise your pet for their efforts.

Your dog’s nails should not touch the ground while walking. If you can hear Fido coming, it is time for a trim. Your dog’s nails naturally file themselves if they walk or play outside. If your pet is inside most of the time, you will have to trim its nails more often. Start by cutting a small amount at a time. Always cut at an angle, and follow the natural curve of the nail.

You can take this time to check your pet’s paws for stones or thorns. If you live in a cold climate that uses rock salt or chemicals to melt ice and snow, it is a good idea to wash your pup’s feet in warm water after walks. You can also put a little Vaseline on their paws to keep them clean and moisturized.

Tip: When in doubt, have your vet or groomer clip the nails. They will be happy to walk you through the process.

We all want our little friends to be happy and clean. Don’t forget to wash their bedding and toys. Grooming and caring for your dog is a great way to bond. Your dog will be healthier and happier with a little help from you.

How to Choose a Dog

Human hand is touching a cute little doggie paw through a fence

Five Things To Consider When Choosing A Dog

It takes great commitment to own a dog. After all, you’ll be spending at least the next ten years with your pet. Don’t be intimated though—any dog owner can tell you how rewarding it is to have a barking companion. Dogs make you laugh, keep you healthy, give you confidence, and make you a happier person in general. Still, it’s very important to make sure that the dog you take home is a perfect match for you. Otherwise, you’ll risk making both you and your dog miserable. Here are five things you should consider in choosing a dog.

Be Sure You’re Committed

You need to be responsible when you have a dog. After all, you’re taking care of a living creature. Will you remember to feed your dog? Do you have time to take it out for walks? Are you willing to regularly groom it? If you’re not yet sure, it’s better to withhold your plan of getting a dog. Dogs will demand your attention. Many people also tend to buy puppies then abandon them when they’re no longer enjoying its company. Don’t buy a dog unless you’re sure that you’re committed to taking care of it even when it gets old.

Evaluate Your Lifestyle

You lifestyle plays a huge role in owning a dog. You need to know how much time you can spare in a day for your pet. Keep in mind that feeding and grooming is not enough for a dog. You’ll need to spend time with it too especially since most dogs are social. If you live alone and you work long hours, then it would probably not be a good idea to buy a dog. Also consider the house you live in. How much space do you have? Will your dog have enough free room to run around? Do you have aluminum fencing in order to confine a dog? Would a dog rip up and potentially ruin expensive landscaping? And if you have housemates, make sure that they’re alright with pets. They could be allergic or they may not appreciate too much barking noise. How active you are also plays a role. Some dog breeds may be too energetic for you while others may be too lazy.

Choose A Dog Breed

Many people tend to choose a dog breed based on its appearance or its popularity. Too often, making a choice based on superficial standards will end up with owners giving up their dog to a shelter because of incompatibility. You need to choose a dog breed based on your lifestyle. For instance, some people buy energetic dog breeds thinking that it will help them get active. But then the owner remains a couch potato, leaving the dog neurotic. Choose a dog breed that would match your energy levels. The size of the dog should also be compatible with the space you have at home. If you’re buying a puppy, know how big it will get so you can anticipate how much room space it will need. Also, if you have children, you should choose a dog breed that’s good with kids. For instance, some people believe that it’s alright to own a Chihuahua even when there are children at home because Chihuahuas are small and cute, making them appealing for the child. However, Chihuahuas can be aggressive and intolerant of children.

Consider The Cost

Taking care of dogs costs money. Some of its expenses include food, veterinary costs, grooming, and toys. And since the dog will stay with you for around a decade or so, you need to make sure that you can cover its living expenses for that long. If you’re already tight on your budget, getting a dog might not be too smart. However, there are certain dog breeds that need lower maintenance than others. If you really want a dog, perhaps a lower maintenance breed would fit better with your budget.

Look For A Source

In general, there are two places where you can get a dog: a breeder or a shelter. Apart from getting to choose exactly which dog breed you want, a breeder can offer you a comprehensive history of the dog and may even screen the dog for genetic problems. Breeders will also be more knowledgeable about dog breeds so you can expect reliable answers for any question you may have. On the other hand, shelters have more flexibility in terms of compatibility. Because the dogs in shelters are often arbitrary, there is a lot more possibility for you to find a dog you’re compatible with. The best part about getting a dog from the shelter is that you’re saving a life.

Owning a dog is a great responsibility and is not a choice you should make on a whim. It is a mutual relationship that will require attention but will be rewarded by loyalty and companionship.

Basic First Aid for your Dog

Dog wearing medical cone with veterinarian

Your dog has fallen down the stairs and broken his leg. What do you do? Or maybe your dog gets overheated while playing out in your yard on a hot summer day. How do you cool him off? Despite your best efforts, accidents happen. While you should never use these procedures as a substitute for veterinary care, these first aid tips can help you keep your pet alive until you can get him to a veterinarian.

Poisoning and Exposure to Toxins

Numerous household items are toxic to dogs. In general, things that are toxic to humans are also dangerous for canines. Many household cleaning products and antifreeze are poisonous to dogs. Some common household plants, such as American holly, carnations, gardenias, mistletoe, peonies, rhododendrons, tulips, and lilies are toxic to dogs. Some foods, such as chocolate, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, garlic, onions, and xylitol (found in candy and chewing gum) are also toxic to dogs.

If you think your dog’s skin has been exposed to a toxic substance, such as a household cleaner, read the instructions on the product’s label on how to handle human exposure to the toxin, and follow the directions provided. For instance, if the product instructs you to wash your hands after exposure to the substance, wash your dog with soap and water, being sure not to get soap in your dog’s eyes, mouth, or nose. Then, call your veterinarian or local emergency veterinary clinic for further advice.

Signs that your dog has ingested a poisonous substance include seizures, loss of consciousness, breathing difficulties, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, irregular heartbeat, and lethargy. If you think your dog has ingested a poisonous substance, call your veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic immediately for advice. You can also call the ASPCA Poison Control hotline 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at 888-426-4435. The ASPCA Poison Control hotline charges a consultation fee.

Fractures

Signs of a fractured leg include swelling, abnormal movement of the leg, misshapen leg, an unwillingness or inability to walk, whining, holding the leg up, and bruising. If you suspect your dog has broken her leg, don’t attempt to set it. Splinting the leg may prevent your dog from moving her leg, but a badly placed splint can actually cause more harm. If your dog is bleeding or if her bone is sticking out through her skin, gently warp her leg with a clean bandage or towel before transporting her to your veterinarian. Put your dog in a carrier or kennel to transport her so that she cannot move around much and further injure her leg.

Burns

Run cold water over the burned area for several minutes. Wrap the burned area in a clean cool wet towel. Do not put any type of ointment on the burn. Place your dog in a carrier or kennel to transport him to your veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic.

Bleeding

To stop the bleeding, place a clean bandage, towel, or piece of clothing over the wound, and apply gentle, but firm pressure on it. It usually takes several minutes for bleeding to stop, so don’t check the wound until you have applied pressure to it for at least three minutes. If the blood seeps through the cloth, apply another piece of cloth on top of the first piece, and continue to apply pressure to the wound. If bleeding is severe, you may need to apply a tourniquet. You can use a strip of clean cloth as a tourniquet. Once the bleeding has stopped, call your veterinarian for further advice. If bleeding is severe, transport your dog to your veterinarian or local emergency veterinary clinic for treatment.

Heatstroke

A dog can quickly overheat on a warm day. Signs of heatstroke in canines include depression, thick, sticky saliva, vomiting, weakness, red or pale gums, diarrhea, bright red tongue, shock, rapid panting, and coma. If your dog is suffering from heatstroke, you’ll need to lower his body temperature. However, lowering your dog’s body temperature too quickly can actually lead to other life-threatening conditions. Run cool (not cold) water over your dog. Place a clean cool wet towel around your dog’s head and neck. Rewet the towel and replace it every few minutes. Even if your dog seems to be recovering, it’s essential to take her to your veterinarian to ensure she is not suffering from dehydration or other complications.

If Your Dog Stops Breathing

Make sure your dog is unconscious by gently shaking him and talking to him. Only begin rescue breathing when you know your dog is unconscious rather than deeply sleeping. Next, make sure your dog’s airway is clear. Open your dog’s mouth, and pull his tongue forward. Use your finger to clear any vomit or saliva from your dog’s throat. Sometimes clearing the airway is enough to help your dog breathe again. Watch your dog’s chest to see if it rises and falls and listen for breath sounds for 10 seconds following clearing out his airway.

If you don’t see any evidence of breathing, you will need to start rescue breathing. Pull your dog’s tongue to the front of his mouth so that it is in line with his canine teeth. Hold your dog’s mouth closed, and blow into his nostrils until you see his chest rise. If you don’t see his chest rise, blow more forcefully, and ensure you dog’s lips are sealed shut. Allow two to three seconds between each rescue breath to give your dog’s chest a chance to deflate. Continue rescue breathing while someone transports you and your dog to a veterinarian. Even if you r dog begins to breathe on his own, it’s essential to go to the vet to determine the cause of the problem and to prevent further complications.

If Your Dog’s Heart Stops

Lay your dog on a hard, flat surface on her right side. For medium or large dogs, place one palm on top of the other over the heart. For small dogs, cup your hand around the dog’s rib cage so that your fingers are on one side of the chest and your thumb is on the other side. The heart is located behind your dog’s front left elbow. Keep your elbows straight, and press down about one inch on your dog’s chest with hard fast motions. Continue compressions at a rate of approximately 100 per minute until you reach the vet. If your dog is not breathing, give her one rescue breath after every five chest compressions.

Despite your best efforts, accidents can happen and emergencies can arise. While you should never substitute these procedures for veterinary care, these first aid tips can help you save your dog’s life.

Common Diseases and Symptoms in Dogs

Old purebred blind jack russell dog with cataracts in eyes

Dog owners must know that canines are susceptible to a variety of common diseases. Some are treatable and others are preventable. Recognizing the symptoms of an illness helps ensure that your pet receives medical intervention as soon as possible, which increases the chances of recovery.

Cancer

Not unlike how the disease process affects people, dogs may develop different types of cancer. Some types form localized tumors and others are more likely to spread or metastasize throughout the body. Different veterinarians may also have varied views concerning treatment options. While the reason cancer occurs remains unknown, genetic and environmental factors may contribute to malignancy development. Cancer symptoms include:

  • Lumps or unusual swelling
  • Sores that do not heal
  • Abnormal discharge from any body region
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Generalized unexplained fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Difficulty breathing, having bowel movements or urinating
  • Black, tarry-looking bowel movements
  • Lameness in the absence of injury

Diagnosing cancer may involve a needle biopsy performed on abnormal growths to examine the cells under the microscope. Blood tests and imaging studies are also commonly used. Treatment may involve surgical removal of the malignant growth, chemotherapy, radiation or a combination of therapies.

Cancer may occur in any dog species at any age. However, older dogs and certain breeds are more susceptible. Boston terriers, boxers and golden retrievers are more prone to mast cell tumors or lymphomas. Large and giant breeds, which include great Danes and saint bernards are more prone to developing bone cancer.

Neutering male and female dogs at an early age is one way to dramatically reduce the chances of pets developing cancer in later years.

Diabetes

Similar to humans, dogs develop diabetes when the body becomes insulin resistant or the pancreas does not produce sufficient amounts of insulin. Without insulin, sugar cannot nourish cells and remains in the blood. If left untreated, hyperglycemia causes many different health problems. Although an exact cause is unknown, autoimmune disorders, genetics, medications, obesity and pancreatitis are thought to contribute to the development of the disease. Symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Increased appetite
  • Increased water consumption
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Increased urination
  • Dehydration
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Sweet-smelling breath
  • Cataract formation
  • Skin problems that do not heal
  • Frequent urinary tract infections

Females and obese dogs have a greater risk of developing diabetes. The disorder is typically diagnosed when the animal is between six and nine years of age. Certain breeds also seem to carry a greater risk. These dogs include Australian terriers, dachshunds, keeshounds, miniature and standard-sized poodles and samoyeds. Juvenile diabetes is not uncommon in golden retrievers and keeshounds.

Diagnosing the disease process involves evaluating symptoms, performing a physical examination and evaluating blood and urine samples. Treatment is determined based on the severity of the disease and other possible health problems. Some dogs merely require oral medications or dietary changes. Some need routine insulin injections. Seriously ill dogs require hospitalization to monitor and lower their blood sugar.

Heartworm

The disease is caused by a parasitic worm that travels through the bloodstream while damaging blood vessels, which eventually infects the heart, lungs, kidneys and liver. Complete infestation typically takes six months after the initial exposure. The parasite is transmitted by mosquitoes. The animal must become infected with a male and female worm before parasitic reproduction occurs. If not detected, over the course of five to seven years, the dog may be infested with hundreds of worms. When not caught in time, the disease causes death. Symptoms of heartworm include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue after little physical activity
  • Some dogs may not have symptoms until latter stages

Diagnosis involves a physical examination, imaging studies and a blood test. Dogs should undergo blood testing every spring before receiving a preventative prescription. Treating an infected dog involves a series of injections with adulticides. Although the medication has a high cure rate, dogs must be monitored and kept calm during the process in order to prevent further cardiovascular damage.

Animals living in hot, humid climates are at greater risk of becoming infected. However, infections have been recorded in every U.S. state with the exception of Alaska.

Kennel Cough

The generic phrase refers to bacterial, fungal or viral respiratory infections, which cause inflammation throughout the animal’s throat and may venture downward to cause bronchitis. The affliction is not unlike a chest cold that affects people. Depending on the underlying cause, the infection often resolves without treatment. However, it is extremely contagious to other dogs. Kennel cough symptoms include:

  • Chronic, dry, honking cough
  • Gagging
  • Coughing foamy, white phlegm
  • Nasal congestion and discharge
  • Fever

The infection occurs in many different ways. Dogs may inhale microbes from the air. They might become infected after coming in contact with an ill dog or contaminated objects. Animal shelters, kennels, and other enclosed environments having poor air circulation are breeding grounds for microbes. Very young dogs and any dog not vaccinated against Bordetella and parainfluenza are at greater risk. If not treated, the infection could lead to pneumonia.

Infected dogs must be isolated from others. Humidifiers, vaporizers or other steam-producing environments help open breathing passages. Veterinarians may prescribe cough supressants and antimicrobial medications. Ensure the animal continues eating and drinking. Eliminate stress and over active behavior.