This is the subject of section of a special Wikibook Animal Care/Dog which deals with all aspects of routine care.
Although dogs are omnivores (meaning they can eat almost anything - vegetable as well as meat) there are some things best avoided, such as chocolate, sugar and mushrooms. Traditionally fed kitchen scraps, a better bet is dry pelleted food. One veterinarian suggested that canned dog-food was 'a diarrhea diet'. Like humans, dogs need cereals for 'dietary fiber or 'roughage' and pelleted 'complete' dog-food provides a balance with proteins, minerals and vitamins. Just add water, and the occasional oily fish (such as sardines) for a glossy coat. Generally, try serving a little less than the makers recommend, and go easy on the treats to avoid overweight.
Regular exercise - twenty minutes walking or running three times a day, and plenty of play will keep your dog (and you) healthy and happy!
Dog health is dependent on a whole range of things including a regular balanced diet (usually pelleted dog-food), occasional nutritional supplements such as oily fish, mental and physical activity including grooming as well as some preventative measures such as regular worming and inoculation against disease. Veterinary care does not just mean medicine, it is any professional healthcare including advice that will promote vitality, mental stability, in order to achieve overall well-being as well as long, healthy and happy situation that is a modern dog's life.
Unless you intend to breed dogs, sterilization (neutering) is may be advised for household (pet) animals. Females 'come on heat' or 'in season' in the spring-time, and both male and female animals naturally try to mate (copulate) with gusto for up to a month. Dogs that are not neutered tend to be more aggressive. For males, this normally involves removal of the testicles (false ones are available for cosmetic purposes, but are not necessary), due to the hormonal changes the animal will become more lethargic and gain weight. For females the process is far more complicated as it involves removal of all internal sexual organs (hysterectomy), in females sterilization has a high chance of reducing occurrences of ovarian cancer and complication that may arise even due to fake pregnancies. Recovery from surgery in both cases occurs in about one week.
Early in life - 6 - 12 weeks after being born a puppy should be vaccinated against several serious diseases. Veterinary services vary in style, and it is wise to ask friends and neighbors about local providers. There are now multiple vaccine 'shots' so probably only one or two actual injections are needed. ask your veterinary specialist for current information about your locality, breed and situation. Keep a record of treatment safely as long as the animal is alive and ask about 'pet passports' which are essential when traveling in some parts of the world such as across state borders within the European Union. These are linked to the animal by a microchip about the size of a grain of rice and inserted under the skin of the neck with a hypodermic needle (a sort of injection and quite painless), however they are not now put in very young animals as the chip can migrate and become difficult for the scanners to detect. The usual 'shots include:
- Canine adenovirus
- Kennel Cough
Your vet may also recommend vaccinating for
- Leptospirosis and
- Lyme disease
But probably only if you live or visit near an affected area.
Puppies should not play with dogs other than siblings and parents before these vaccines are effective - ask your veterinary specialist for current information about available vaccine serums and local health threats.
Worms are very common in dogs and cats and can cause distress and ill health.
- Roundworms travel from animal to animal, and look like thin garden earth-worms or coiled spaghetti. Humans -especially young children - can become infected by other animals including dogs. These cause sickness and may appear in vomit or feces. Essentially roundworms eat th food of their host so symptoms include weight loss and generally lacking in energy. Other symptoms may be skin irritation, diarrhoea and vomiting.
- Tapeworms have a head that attaches itself to the intestine. Bits break away and may appear as grains of rice around the base of the tail or in the feces. They may also appear to show signs of life. They cause damage to the fur and may make the animal irritable and tetchy.
- Hookworms and whipworms live in the soil and can burrow through skin to feed on blood. Poor blood quality causes anemia, diarrhea, dehydration and possibly also death.
That is why regular worming by adding tablets is essential. Flea treatment may also be needed, as they carry 'passenger' tapeworm eggs. Puppies should be wormed when about six months old and regularly after that at between three to six month intervals.
Diseases that can affect humansEdit
Generally, owning a dog improves human health, but there are some (prophylactic) precautions that are essential:
The most dangerous disease is rabies, also known as lockjaw. This is now rare in Northern Europe and North America due to campaigns of annual vaccination (sometimes mandatory, sometimes subsidized ask your veterinary specialist about local arrangements) Take extra care while in rural or remote areas where some animals may not be vaccinated regularly.
Toxocariasis is caused by a type of roundworm, and is a threat, particularly for children, since it is found in animal feces and sometimes in soil. toxicaris caninis larvae, if ingested by humans, can travel towards the liver, lungs, brain and eyes, where they can trigger off allergic reactions such as asthma, and they also have more serious affects such as partial loss of vision or blindness. such disorders tend to be permanent. Regular worming, described above, is therefore vital.