Caring for Your Dog’s Health at Home

Keep your dog’s teeth clean. 

Dogs, just like humans, build up plaque on the teeth and need to have it removed. Get a dog toothbrush from your vet or a pet supply store, along with dog toothpaste. Don’t use human toothpaste, which usually contains fluoride and can be harmful to dogs.

  • Place a small amount of dog toothpaste on your fingertip. Gently run your finger along the gums of the upper teeth to get the dog used to the toothpaste.
  • If your dog accepts this, the next day do the same with a bit of the toothpaste on a dog toothbrush. Get the bristles of the brush along the gum line of the upper back teeth and angle slightly up, so the bristles get under the gum line.
  • Work from back to front, making small circles along the gum lines for about 30 seconds.
  • Ideally, you should brush your dog’s teeth every day. At least, aim for several times a week.
  • You can also try special dental food which is formulated to be able to grind off the plaque as the dog chews. Treats like rawhide or dental treats work in the same manner.

Trim your dog’s nails. 

Have a veterinarian or technician demonstrate on your dog how close to the quick (the growing portion) you can trim the nail before you try to do so yourself. The quick contains blood vessels and nerves which will painfully bleed if clipped.

  • Have someone hold the dog still for you the first few times you clip the nails.
  • Start with the back nails. These nails are usually shorter and dogs are more comfortable with having the back paws handled.
  • Locate the quick or approximate area before trimming off the end of the nail. Carefully work your way back towards the quick. Trim at least two to three millimetres in front of it.
  • Proceed with the rest of the paws, giving plenty of praise as your dog behaves for the process.

Give your dog a good brushing.

 Dogs need a good brushing regardless of their coat length. This is a good way to bond with your dog. It also gives you a chance to monitor the health of your dog’s skin.

  • For long-haired dogs, purchase a stripper type of comb to help remove hair that is being shed. Comb through your dog’s hair at least every other day, if not daily. Otherwise, your dog’s fur may form painful mats. These just aren’t ugly to look at, as they can also cause the skin underneath it to get infected.
  • For short-haired dogs, use a soft-bristled brush to remove loose hair and stimulate the skin.

Check your dog’s skin while brushing.

 Brushing time is the time to check your dog’s skin for parasites (fleas), lumps or bumps. You can also check for hair loss, inflammation and scratches or other injuries as well.

  • If you see fleas, act immediately to treat your dog, its bedding, and your house before they get out of hand. Topical treatments and household insecticides are the best ways to curb an exploding flea population. Veterinarian office staff or pet store staff can give you great advice to kill fleas both on your dog and in your home.

Give your dog a bath once a month.

 If your dog needs a bath, use an all-purpose dog shampoo. Follow the directions on the bottle. Don’t go overboard with bathing your dog. Most dogs only need a bath once a month at most. A dog’s skin can dry out from more frequent bathing.

  • If you have a dog that gets dirty or smelly more frequently, you may need to bathe it more often. Use your discretion, and contact your vet with any questions.

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