Our Foundation takes in both very young and older animals so we provide some information here on the basics of pet care – Accommodation, Nutrition, Exercise, Health Care, and lots of TLC.
Pets may be happy living indoors or out, running in the garden or snoozing on a favourite cushion, but they do need to know where their own place is in their new home.
Dogs, for example, should be given time to inspect their new home first outside and then inside, gently escorted on a lead by the new owner. They will settle better into a new home once they know they have that special place to feel safe and comfortable.
They also need to know what the House rules are from the start. For example is your pet going to be allowed on the sofa or in the bedroom? They need a bed in a quiet draft-free area; if outdoors a kennel to give them warm dry shelter in winter and extra shade in hot weather. If using a blanket or cushion it needs to be regularly washed.
Professional experience shows that a regular routine from day one is probably the best way with regular walk times, regular meal times, regular fun times with the family. It takes several weeks for a dog to completely settle into his or her new home.
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The quantity of food required depends on the age, size and growth potential of the dog. Puppies and young dogs need 3 meals per day; by about 12 to 18 months they should get 2 meals a day. They need a well-balanced diet throughout their life and a measured amount to keep their weight steady. Large breeds have specific growth requirements and need the kind of diet designed to meet them.
Too much and they can put on weight and overweight dogs generally have more health problems. There are guidelines about quantity on the label of every food container. It is best to check the ingredients to make sure you are buying quality food.
It is best to check the ingredients to make sure you are buying quality food. There are lots of good puppy foods on the market, and special formulas for inactive and older dogs which have different nutritional needs. The main feed should be in the morning, with an evening feed varying in quantity according to need. If neutered/spayed they may benefit from a ‘light’ reduced calorie food.
If you are switching dog food, do it gradually to help your pet get used to it and avoid stomach upsets. Keep your pet’s feeding bowls and utensils clean and separate from your own. Your vet is the best source of nutritional advice.
Clean fresh water should be made available at all times during the day, and for puppies under 6 months, make it available at night as well. Recent research has established that plastic bowls, especially red ones, have affected dog behaviour possibly due to instability of dyes. It’s better to use metal or ceramic containers.
'People' foods are just not suitable for dogs. Don’t feed scraps from the dinner table, too much sugar or salt can be detrimental. There are several foods which are not good for dogs: some raw fruit & vegetables, raw cereals and nuts (processed or roasted), cooked bones can splinter, and chocolate is poisonous to dogs. If your dog has not learned to use a napkin, it helps to wipe under his chin after eating especially the longer-haired breeds. They can’t lick under there, but traces of food can attract insects especially in hot climates.
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Puppies require lots of exercise, so taking them out and about after every nap helps to eliminate the puddle factor! Adult dogs don’t require quite as much but they still need a good daily outing, about an hour every day is recommended. Spending time with them whether out walking & playing or indoors, no matter how old your dog is, social interaction generates a happy relationship.
With puppies, don’t overdo the tug-of-war games as it can encourage dominant behaviour if the puppy “wins” and is left in possession of the toy. If a dog is excluded too much he will find other ways to amuse himself, some of which may be destructive or irritating.
Part of your ownership responsibility is to make sure your dog knows you love him. By interacting on a daily basis you and your dog will build your friendship. Find a good training class in your area and try to attend regularly. This is particularly important for the larger breeds that can be a serious liability if not under the proper control of their owners. A good trainer will help you use kindness and encouragement, rather than punishment to encourage desirable behaviour.
For toilet training, puppies and young dogs need training to use the right spot outside consistently. In the event of ‘accidents’ please don’t rub his nose in it, he does not understand why & gets confused and upset. Older dogs are usually already house-trained, but can still be encouraged to use the right place(s) outdoors.
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Regular grooming is particularly important for long-haired breeds, although some breeds such as poodles do not moult naturally and need regular clipping. Puppies should not be excessively groomed. Brushing with a soft brush is sufficient to remove surface dust, and some believe that, to conserve natural skin oils, puppies should not be bathed until a year old. Mud and deep dirt in their coat can be removed with a warm damp cloth, rubbed down with a dry towel and kept indoors until dry during cold weather. Dog nails can be trimmed periodically, but regular exercise on hard ground may make it unnecessary.
If you take your dog anywhere in the car he should be restrained on or near the floor or confined in a travel cage with fresh air available. A head out of the window can result in eye & nose damage and an emergency can mean your pet is thrown around and even out of the car. But please don’t ever leave a pet in a car, they can suffer from the heat very fast; in some European countries public nuisance regulations may apply.
Remember to take extra water and make rest stops to let him out to cool down and stretch his legs etc! It is a good idea to train a dog to sit before allowing it into and stay before allowing it out of the car, to prevent him jumping onto the road; and at the same time to be on a lead.
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Dogs have to be routinely protected against diseases such as:
- Distemper, causing sever respiratory infections and sometimes convulsions
- Infectious hepatitis, that affects the liver
- Parvovirus, the causes severe gastro-enteritis
- Para influenza, a cause of infectious coughs
- Leptospirosis, that can affect the liver or kidneys and be transmitted to humans
- Rabies, affects the brain, is fatal and can be transmitted to humans
- Corona, a type of parvovirus
- Bordetella – kennel cough
For the exact requirements and timings you will need to consult your vet. Parasite control is also important and they should be wormed regularly; timing depends on the treatment used and relative areas of risk. Fleas can best be prevented with easy to apply treatments.
The most effective preparations are available from your veterinary surgery.
TLC Tender loving care should be administered at regular and irregular intervals and works both ways once the participants get the hang of it.