One of our responsibilities as dog owners is making sure our dogs are kept healthy. This means a good diet, exercise, training, grooming, accessories, attention and, of course, veterinary care.
Puppies 8 to 12 weeks old need four meals a day. Feed puppies which are three to six months old three meals a day. Feed puppies six months to one year old two meals a day. When your dog reaches his first birthday, one meal a day is usually enough. For some dogs, including larger canines or those prone to bloat, it's better to feed two smaller meals.
Dogs need exercise to burn calories, stimulate their minds, and keep healthy. Exercise also tends to help dogs avoid boredom, which can lead to destructive behaviours. Supervised fun and games will satisfy many of your pet's instinctual urges to dig, herd, chew, retrieve and chase.
You can help keep your dog clean and reduce shedding with frequent brushing. Check for fleas and ticks daily during warm weather. Most dogs don't need to be bathed more than a few times a year. Before bathing, comb or cut out all mats from the coat. Carefully rinse all soap out of the coat, or the dirt will stick to soap residue.
Small dogs, sometimes referred to as "lap dogs," are the easiest to handle. To carry a puppy or small dog, place one hand under the dog's chest, with either your forearm or other hand supporting the hind legs and rump. Never attempt to lift or grab your puppy or small dog by the forelegs, tail or back of the neck. If you do have to lift a large dog, lift from the underside, supporting his chest with one arm and his rear end with the other.
Your pet needs a warm, quiet place to rest, away from all drafts and off the floor. A training crate is ideal. You may wish to buy a dog bed, or make one out of a wooden box. Place a clean blanket or pillow inside the bed. Wash the dog's bedding often. If your dog will be spending a lot of time outdoors, be sure she has access to shade and plenty of cool water in hot weather, and a warm, dry, covered shelter when it's cold.
Licensing and Identification
Follow the Dhaka City Corporation licensing regulations. This, along with an ID tag and implanted microchip or tattoo, can help secure your dog's return should he become lost.
A well-behaved companion canine is a joy. But left untrained, your dog can cause nothing but trouble. Teaching your dog the basics—"Sit," "Stay," "Come," "Down," "Heel," "Off" and "Leave it"—will improve your relationship with both your dog and your neighbours. If you have a puppy, start teaching him his manners as soon as possible! Use little bits of food as a lure and reward. Puppies can be enrolled in obedience courses when they have been adequately vaccinated. Contact your local humane society or SPCA for training class recommendations.
Your dog should see the veterinarian for a full check-up, shots and for a de-worming every year, and immediately if he is sick or injured.
While many of us may object to our pet's bad breath, we should pay attention to what it may be telling us. Bad breath is most commonly an indication that your dog is in need of a dental check-up.
Fleas and Ticks
Daily inspections of your dog for fleas and ticks during the warm seasons are important. Use a flea comb to find and remove fleas. There are several new methods of flea and tick control. Speak to your veterinarian about these and other options.
This parasite lives in the heart and is passed from dog to dog by mosquitoes. Heartworm infections can be fatal. Contact your vet for detail.
Medicines and Poisons
Never give your dog medication that has not been prescribed by a veterinarian. For example, did you know that one regular-strength ibuprofen tablet can cause stomach ulcers in a ten-pound dog? Keep rat poison and other rodenticides away from your pet.
Spaying and Neutering
Females should be spayed—the removal of the ovaries and uterus—and males neutered—removal of the testicles—by six months of age. Spaying before maturity significantly reduces the risk of breast cancer, a common and frequently fatal disease of older female dogs. Spaying also eliminates the risk of an infected uterus, a very serious problem in older females that requires surgery and intensive medical care. Neutering males prevents testicular and prostate diseases, some hernias and certain types of aggression.
Puppies should be vaccinated with a combination vaccine (called a “5-in-1”) at two, three and four months of age, and then once annually. This vaccine protects the puppy from distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus, and parainfluenza. A puppy's vaccination program cannot be finished before four months of age. If you have an unvaccinated dog older than four or five months, he will need a series of two vaccinations given two to three weeks apart, followed by a yearly vaccination.
Dogs are commonly exposed to worms and possible infestation—even in urban areas. Microscopic eggs produced by intestinal worms are passed in an infected dog's faeces. Most puppies, even from healthy mothers in good homes, carry roundworms or hookworms.
The key to treatment is correct diagnosis. This will ensure that the medication is effective against the parasite your pet has.
Photo: Jannatul Mawa