Essential Canine Care: The Comprehensive Guide

Proper canine care is the best thing you can do to assure your dog's good health and happiness for as long as he lives. Here are some of the fundamentals of canine care:

Know the Basics

It's a good idea to know the basic vital statistics that indicate when your dog is in good health. That way, you'll know when your dog is exhibiting distressing signs of canine illness that may require a visit to the vet.

Your dog's temperature should be between 101 and 102 degrees Fahrenheit. His heart rate should be between eighty and one hundred twenty beats per minute; his respiratory rate should be between fifteen and twenty breaths per minute. His mucus membranes and gums should be pink, his eyes clear and alert; his skin should be pliant and his ears should smell clean.

Get Regular Check-ups

Your dog should have an annual veterinary health exam to ensure that he's in good shape. Your vet will take your dog's temperature rectally (you can do this at home yourself in the same fashion), listen to his heart and lungs, and palpitate his abdomen to check his organ function. You'll need to let your vet know about any symptoms your dog may have displayed in the 24 hours prior to the exam. You can also take this opportunity to ask your vet any questions you might have about your dog's health or behavior.

Spay or Neuter

Spaying or neutering helps reduce the unwanted pet population. It can also make your dog less aggressive and less prone to wandering. Spaying prevents female dogs from entering the heat cycle. Spaying and neutering also prevents diseases associated with the reproductive tract, such as mammary cancer.

Remember Diet and Exercise

Your dog needs a balanced diet to remain healthy and active. Remember that puppies, pregnant and lactating dogs, obese dogs, and senior dogs have specialized dietary requirements. These dogs need food formulated to their needs.

An all-natural dog food provides the highest quality nutrition for your dog. Though it seems more expensive, you'll soon realize that your dog eats less when you feed him all-natural food. This is because conventional dog foods are made up mostly of empty calories and filler, which leave your dog feeling hungry and encourage him to eat more.

Feed your dog two to three small portions of food a day, rather than one large portion once a day. This prevents gastrointestinal upsets that can result from overeating and eating too fast. Portions sizes vary according to size and breed; ask your vet.

Proper exercise is one of the key components of canine care as well. Your dog needs to remain active to be healthy. Walking, swimming, and playing games such as fetch outside are excellent ways to help your dog get some exercise.

If your can't get outside for any reason, you can still play games with your dog inside. Teach your dog to do tricks; these not only tone his muscles but also hone his mind. Encourage your dog to run up and down a flight of stairs; play tug of war; or play fetch in the sitting room with a soft plush toy. All of these activities can help your dog get the exercise he needs.