Looking after your dog

Owning a dog is a big responsibility, and giving him the best care and attention can help improve the quality and length of his life. Feeding your dog a well-balanced diet is certainly necessary to keep him fit and healthy. But other activities such as exercise, training, grooming and regular visits to the veterinarian are just as important. Let’s take a look at all the grooming procedures you can do for your dog to help keep him in good shape:

Grooming your dog

To keep your dog looking and feeling his best, you need to groom him regularly. This is a good opportunity to check the condition of his coat and skin, and to look for any abnormalities such as swellings, wounds or evidence of parasites. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, call your vet for advice.

Checking your dog’s ears and eyes

When you’re grooming your dog, you should check that his eyes and ears are clean, clear and free from excessive discharge. If his eyes aren’t clean, you can gently clean them with moist cotton batting. Use a different swab for each eye. If his eyes are red, or there is a lot of discharge, get advice from your vet.

As for your dog’s ears, if they’re soiled, you can wipe them with a small pad of dry cotton batting. But don’t delve beyond the area you can see, and don’t poke anything solid inside; the ear is very delicate and can be easily damaged. Dogs with long ears are more likely to suffer from ear complaints, so be extra vigilant with these breeds. A lot of dark wax or discharge in the ear could indicate that your dog has ear mites or an infection. Again, ask your veterinarian for advice.

Why you need to check your dog’s mouth regularly

Check your dog’s mouth regularly. His teeth should be clean and free from deposits, and his gums should be a healthy pink colour. As he ages, deposits may develop around the base of his teeth near the gums. This can lead to bad breath, mouth pain, gum disease, and infections, and eventually it could cause the teeth to fall out. Your vet can scale your dog’s teeth to remove the tartar, remove any loose teeth, and polish the teeth to slow down the recurrence of deposits. Usually, when a vet does this, the dog has to be put under a general anaesthetic.

Brushing your dog’s teeth every day will help to prevent building up of deposits. Use either a special canine toothbrush or a child’s toothbrush, along with toothpaste designed for dogs. Do not use human toothpaste on your dog, as it can cause gastrointestinal upset – and dogs usually hate the taste. If you start brushing your dog’s teeth when he’s young, he’ll become used to the routine. For a treat, give your dog specially designed dog biscuits – such as Pedigree Dentabone – that help reduce the build-up of plaque and tartar, and maintain your dog’s oral health and hygiene.

Check your dog’s nails

It’s also important to keep an eye on your dog’s nails. Dogs who regularly exercise on hard surfaces are less likely to need any attention, as their nails wear down to about the correct length. But if your dog exercises mostly on grass, his nails may grow longer and may need trimming.

Pay particular attention to the dew claws, if he has them, since they don’t come in contact with the ground and don’t become worn down. They tend to grow around in a circle, and may pierce the pad. This is painful to him and may even cause lameness. You can trim the nails yourself, but you have to do it correctly with suitable clippers. If you don’t know how to do this, ask your vet or a professional dog groomer for help.

Don’t let your dog overeat

Please remember that it’s important to control your dog’s body weight and keep him in optimum condition. Feel his body, particularly over the ribs, to check that he’s the correct weight. You should be able to feel the individual ribs under a cover of body tissue. If you have trouble doing this, your vet can do it for you during routine visits. If you can’t feel your dog’s ribs, it might mean his diet should be changed. Your vet will give you advice on this.

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