Whether you are brand new to pet ownership, or have some experience, we are here for you.
Our team has curated a collection of important information that will help you to take great care of your new dog. Read through the whole guide, or jump to a specific section using the icons below.
MAKING THE PROPER PREPARATIONS
Making proper preparations is essential to bringing home a new friend. This section will cover canine-proofing your home to set your new dog up for success, choosing a good veterinarian, collecting necessary supplies, introducing your new friend to your family and friends, and more.
Dogs, especially puppies, can also get into serious mischief when left unattended in the home. Puppies love to get into mischief with you standing right next to them! You must ensure your whole house is safe from anything your new pet could get into. Dog proofing right after adoption, or if possible, before you bring your new pet home, will save you time and heartache later down the road. When making your home safe, check for hazards by getting down on the dog’s level so you can assess any potential hazards.
- Hide electrical cords and wires and block unused outlets
- Block/limit access to decks and balconies
- Lock up all pesticides, cleaners, weed killers, rat killers, and medications
- Put away small items such as pens, rubber bands, twist ties, needles, thumbtacks, etc.
- Store or dispose of all plastic bags or items made of foam
- Invest in closed trash cans. Some dogs can even open the regular lidded cans, so investing in some with a locking mechanism may save trouble down the road
- Leave all toilet seats down
- Be mindful of hot items such as irons and hair appliances
- Remove all indoor plants that are within reach of your new dog. Many common indoor plants are toxic to dogs. (See the section on Toxic Plants in the First Aid Chapter)
- Double-check your yard for escape access points. Look for possible escape routes outside, as some canine breeds are more inclined to wander
- Clear the yard of anything harmful that the dog could potentially chew/eat
- Have a plan in place for where you want to train your dog to potty outside, and make sure the space is clean of old fecal matter from other animals
- Keep your eyes peeled and shut doors carefully! Puppies especially love to be near your feet and underfoot!
GATHERING NECESSARY SUPPLIES
FOOD & WATER BOWLS
There are many options for feeding your dog. Ceramic or metal bowls are usually recommended as they are easier to clean and harder to tip over.
Puzzle feeders and slow feeders are also great options for puppies/dogs as they provide enrichment and mental stimulation in addition to supplying a food source. Slow feeders are also an excellent option for puppies and dogs that eat very quickly to slow down food intake and help support the GI health of your new pet.
Having at least one large water bowl is extremely important. Puppies/dogs should have access to at least 16oz of fresh, clean water at all times. Water should never be withheld, even for potty training purposes. It could severely damage the overall health and well-being of your dog.
Choose where you want to train your new dog to use the potty. It can be a permanent place outdoors, or it can be a place indoors in a play yard-type area with pee pads or a potty patch. There are many options; be sure to be consistent so your new dog learns what to expect.
Dogs love soft places to snuggle. So your new dog will need soft, clean, warm, and dry blankets and bedding to sleep on to feel safe and secure. Dogs are pack animals and want to be with you, so plan to keep their bedding near where you spend much of your time.
Most dogs love having a crate that they can retreat. Crate training will help ensure your dog can safely move from one environment to another. It allows you to keep them safe from possible dangers in the home when they cannot be directly supervised. Crates are also excellent for encouraging rest and decompression. Make sure your dog can stand and turn around easily in their crate, but any larger than that, and you risk your dog going potty in the crate. You can add a bed, blankets, and chew toys to encourage rest and enrichment while in the crate.
See also: Crate Training
HARNESS & LEAD
You will need a lead for your dog to take them out for potty breaks and walks and potentially to keep them attached to you in the home for the first few days. Leads six feet or longer are recommended because they allow for more freedom of movement and can lead to less reactivity while leashed.
We strongly recommend harnesses over collars for lead walking because they cause less potential damage to the trachea. Make sure to choose a well-fitting harness. It should be snug but not tight and allow for easy movement for your dog.
TOYS & ENRICHMENT
Toys can provide entertainment and enrichment for your dog. Be sure to provide a variety of toys to allow for several types of enrichment. Balls, squeaky stuffies, rope toys, chews, puzzles, snuffle mats, etc., are all great options. It may be a good idea to select only a few toys to start off to learn which types your dog is interested in or which may not be a good fit for them. Then, once you’ve learned their play style and interests, select more. Consider also rotating toys in and out of availability to keep them interested.
THE FIRST DAYS
The first three days of bringing home your new pet are about allowing them to decompress. Coming from a shelter environment, possibly transferred multiple times or returned to the shelter after prior adoptions, and now arriving at your home can be extremely stressful. You are understandably eager to socialize, but your dog will acclimate to their new home if you give them plenty of time and space to decompress.
Setting boundaries for spaces in your home from the beginning will help your new dog decompress and learn where they are allowed to be in your home. It allows them to become familiar with their new environment and gives you time to learn more about them.
In addition to having your home set up for a new dog, keep a close eye on your new dog, which will help you bond successfully and learn their behavioral cues. One great way to help keep your new dog close to you is to use a lead to tether them to you personally or to an area in the home where you are spending a lot of your time. It may sound like a strange technique, but it does help speed up the housetraining process, especially with puppies!
We know you are excited to introduce your new friend to everyone you know! This is an exciting time for you. But, for your new dog, this may be a stressful time. Give your new dog plenty of time to decompress before introducing them to new people. Skipping this decompression period can lead to behavioral problems at best, and can be dangerous at worst. Once your dog has settled into the home and has calmed down, introductions can be done using the advice below.
New pets can be extremely overwhelmed by children. Children will need to learn how to read their new pet’s body language to understand when they want attention, what kind, and when they need time to themselves. Allowing them to invade your new dog’s space can be dangerous. Make sure to supervise any interactions between your children and your new puppy/dog and help them learn to play gently with each other. Remind children that your new friend is a living, breathing being with its own feelings and thoughts; they are not a toy. Adults should always be present when children interact with animals in the home.
Your new dog should always be on a leash when they meet the resident cat. Your cat may hiss or growl at the dog, which is normal and should be expected. Never punish your cat for communicating their fear or anxiety in this way. Puppies/dogs should not be allowed to chase the cat under any circumstances! Until you feel that your cat and new dog are entirely safe with one another, please do not allow them to be together unsupervised or off-leash. It can take a month or more for them to be allowed together with no human chaperone! Make sure your cat and new dog each have a quiet place that is just their own if they start to become overwhelmed.
Dog-to-dog introductions can take a long time. At The NOAH Center, we strongly recommend you work through the first dog-to-dog introductions before adoption while working with your Adoptions Matchmaker. If that introduction goes smoothly, you still have more work to do when you get home! First, make sure to re-introduce the resident and new dogs in neutral territory in the home. It can be helpful to take the dogs on a walk together prior to bringing them into the house. Keep both dogs on leash indoors/in a fenced yard until it seems safe; drop the leashes so you can quickly pick them up if necessary. Please do not leave them unsupervised until you are sure that they can be left together safely. Some dogs will become instant friends. Others will take more time. It’s important that you, as their new family, have zero preconceived expectations and allow them time and grace to build their relationship.
If you adopted a puppy, remember that your new pet is a baby! He or she will be curious, energetic, and eager to explore and get into everything. And we mean everything! Patience and consistent boundaries will help you and your puppy develop a lifelong bond built on positivity and love.
Behavior & Training
Training and appropriate play are essential to raising a happy, healthy, well-balanced dog. It sets up the dog for success and is one of your primary responsibilities as a new dog owner. Failure to provide basic obedience training, enrichment and proper socialization leads to undesirable behaviors and is one of the most common reasons adopters return dogs to us.
Regularly working with your dog and providing them with plenty of enrichment strengthens their bond with you and the family and gives you a rewarding sense of satisfaction and connection with your dog. In addition, it helps them to live longer, happier lives as an enjoyable part of their family unit.
- Training helps your dog cope with new experiences and people and can reduce their fear and anxiety in new situations. Through training, dogs learn to be comfortable in the world around them.
- Dogs are social and thrive on human interaction. Training and playing together will build a bond for life.
- Solid foundation training will make your dog enjoyable to live with, ensuring everyone remains happy with the adoption arrangement.
Our Top Training Tips
- Reward good behavior: Praising or offering small treats when your dog demonstrates the right behaviors will encourage them to keep doing the right things.
- Keep It Brief: Short, meaningful training sessions have a far greater positive impact than long, drawn-out sessions that can lead to a lack of focus and frustration for you and your dog.
- Enroll In A Basic Training Class. Enrolling in a basic obedience class right away will help give all of you the tools you need to succeed.
- Start Early – Don’t be afraid to start training as early as the first day! Have reasonable expectations about what you and your new dog can accomplish.
- Be Consistent: Consistency is key to making all the hard work come together. It promotes confidence when your dog can easily predict your response to their behavior.
- Don’t Be Too Strict: Pay attention to your dog’s cues and be mindful that they are learning the best they can. Allow each other grace and patience.
The following sections outline basic training guidelines and steps for basic commands and skills. The NOAH Center strongly recommends following up with a positive reinforcement trainer or enrolling your new dog in a formalized training program. These help with socialization and can increase bonding.
Most, if not all, newly adopted puppies/dogs will need house training of some kind. It takes time and patience, no matter what age or level of training is required. Heavily reward the behaviors that you want your dog to repeat. Never punish a dog for having an accident. Punishing is counterproductive and can set them back, causing house training to take even longer and creating friction as you attempt to build a bond with your new pet.
- Limit your new dog’s access to the entire home; stick to one or two rooms for the first couple of weeks. It will allow you time to observe your dog’s behavior and learn to tell when they need to go potty. Doing this also builds confidence in your dog, knowing that their needs will be met.
- Encourage your new dog to spend time in their sleeping area when you can’t supervise them. Dogs will rarely potty where they sleep. Be sure to take them out frequently for breaks.
- Build a feed, train, play, potty, and nap routine so your dog can learn what to expect.
- Give your dog frequent opportunities to potty outside. We recommend taking them out at least every hour, if not more, for puppies.
- If you notice your dog sniffing the floor, this may indicate that they need to potty, so take them outside immediately.
When (not if) an accident happens, don’t punish your dog – they’re learning. Puppies have smaller bladders than older dogs, so they need to urinate more often than adult dogs. Disinfect the spot with a non-ammonia-based product and remove the smell with a pet odor-neutralizer.
Begin by holding a dog treat in front of your dog’s nose. Lift the treat over your dog’s head to encourage them into a sitting position. As your dog lifts their head to follow the treat, they should naturally sit. Reward your dog for their good behavior.
Repeat these steps several times a day until your dog understands. After this, continue to use the hand gesture and gradually remove the treat. Once your dog reliably sits, you can introduce a verbal cue at the same time.
Once your dog knows how to sit, you can teach them to lie down by holding a treat, lowering it between their front paws, and pulling it away. When they lie down, reward them for their good behavior. Again, repeat this action, slowly phasing out the treat until your dog can complete the action in any given situation.
When you are confident your dog can complete the action reliably, you can start to associate a verbal command.
Start by getting your dog to sit using a hand gesture and saying the word “Sit.” Next, put your hand in front of you, palm forward, as you say, “Stay.”
Wait a couple of seconds, then reward your dog for their good behavior. Now repeat the exercise. Ask your dog to “Sit,” but this time, step back with the palm of your hand facing your dog and give the “Stay” command. Wait for 3 seconds, then step forward and reward your dog.
Repeat these steps, gradually increasing how far you step back and rewarding your dog every time they stay. Don’t forget to use a verbal command to “release” your dog at the end of every exercise by encouraging them to get up again. You’ll find that you’ll get better results with frequent sessions of several minutes.
Puppies are young and distractible, so running their training sessions in an enclosed area with few distractions is best. Start by letting your puppy wander off, then crouch down, open your arms out, and use an excited tone of voice to call their name, followed by the cue word. You might consider creating a special whistle sound to add to this.
When they arrive, give them plenty of praise and reward them with a high-value treat. Then, give them another treat while you clip a leash on their collar. Once they’ve finished the treat, unclip the lead, stand up, and walk away. Now repeat the process from the start.
Practice every day for a few weeks, keeping the sessions short. Make sure you practice in different situations, always with your dog’s safety in mind.
Start by getting your dog to sit. Next, put a treat in your hand and hold it at your dog’s chin level, then walk forward briskly and say “heel.”
As your dog is about to catch up, stop walking and get them to sit. Now, reward your dog for their good behavior. Repeat these steps for a few minutes.
Practice whenever you get the opportunity. Heel walking is an advanced behavior for a dog, so you’ll get the best results if you have frequent training sessions over many months.
Puppies and dogs naturally dislike being alone. It can lead to anxious and destructive behavior. Many people feel that crates are negative, but studies show that when used correctly, crates provide your dog with a safe space or “den,” in which to rest and decompress, and can make them feel safe when you are not around. Crate training is enormously beneficial in a variety of ways. Important note: crates should NEVER be used as punishment.
Be sure to choose the right size crate for your dog. Crates come in all shapes, sizes, and materials. The main thing to remember is that the crate should be large enough for your dog to easily stand up and turn around and made of safe and sturdy material for your dog to be in when you are not around. For example, this could mean that a canvas crate is not a good option for your dog. If you have adopted a puppy, be prepared to potentially need to purchase a new crate as your puppy grows into adulthood.
Exploring the Crate
- Place the crate in a room in which the family often spends a lot of time
- Line the crate with a soft blanket
- Start with the door open and slowly introduce your puppy to the crate
- Place a trail of treats in the crate to encourage your puppy to explore
- Also, use their favorite toys to entice them to explore the crate
- Please do not put your puppy or dog in the crate; allow them to explore it on their terms
Feeding in the Crate
- Start feeding your dog near the crate
- If your dog is already happy in their crate, you can feed them their meals in the crate
- Once they are comfortable in the crate, you can start to close the door for short periods while they are eating in their crate. Using food puzzles can often help increase their level of enrichment and help the crate become an even more positive place.
- Slowly build up the time after each meal that the door is closed
- Once your dog is more comfortable in the crate, start leaving them in the crate for short periods of time when you are home
- Call your dog to the crate and give them a treat when they go inside
- Provide your dog with a toy or a food puzzle to engage them. When they are calm, slowly leave the room.
- Slowly increase the amount of time you are away until they can be left alone for a period of time without whining.
- When your dog is happy to spend 30 minutes or more in the crate without becoming nervous, you can start to leave them in the crate when you leave the house.
- Always praise and reward your dog when they are in the crate before leaving
- Make departures quick and matter-of-fact, not emotional
- When you return, do not excitingly respond to your puppy. You want these separations to feel normal
- You should not crate your dog for more than 4 to 5 hours per day without allowing them to use the potty. Puppies should be crated for shorter time periods depending on their age.
- Introduce your dog to the crate as soon as possible
- First, have the crate near your bedroom to help your dog keep from feeling isolated
- If your dog is whining at night, it may mean that they need to go to the bathroom, so it’s important to pay attention to these cues.
- Praise and reward your dog when they enter the crate
- When your dog is comfortable sleeping in their crate, you can consider moving it elsewhere in the home
ENRICHMENT & ACTIVITIES
Providing enrichment for your new dog is critical. Without proper enrichment, dogs will be bored and look for ways to entertain themselves and stimulate their minds and bodies. Left to their own devices, this is likely to lead to unwanted behavior.
Puppies/dogs should have access to several toys that can provide entertainment and enrichment that will keep them physically active and provide mental engagement that will help keep them from getting bored and reverting to destructive or other undesirable behaviors.
Examples of toys include: balls, ropes, flirt poles, and chew toys. These types of toys are available at many retailers. Just be sure to choose items that are size appropriate for your dog and make sure that they are supervised during playtime to help prevent accidental ingestion in case the toys start to come apart.
It may be a good idea to only purchase a few toys at first, one of each variety, to give yourself a chance to learn your dog’s preferences and play style. For example, you may learn that plush toys are not a good fit for your dog or that they are disinterested in balls. Once you get to know them, provide them with more of what they like.
Dogs enjoy the physical and mental stimulation from puzzle feeders, making them think and work for their food. Your local pet store or online pet supplier will have many choices of these kinds of feeders. Lick mats, snuffle mats, wobble feeders, and puzzle treat dispensers are all great examples of products that encourage mental enrichment for your canine friend.
Signs that your friend may need more enrichment and/or exercise:
- Excessive weight gain
- Destructive or aggressive behavior
- Disinterest in toys or games
No two dogs are exactly alike. Like people, animals have different personalities shaped by their inherent nature and how they are nurtured. Allowing your dog the time they need to acclimate to their new environment will help nurture them and allow them the freedom to be themselves. Some dogs are social and playful, some are highly affectionate, and some are more aloof. Still, others are shy, reserved, and can take longer to come out of their shells. Remember, just as you get to know your new dog, they learn who you are! Be kind and consistent, and use positive reward-based reinforcement to help build the bond between you and your new pet!
CANINE BODY LANGUAGE
Just like people, puppies and dogs use a lot of body language to communicate how they feel at any given moment. Please refer to the chart below for some common body language communication you will see from your dog.
Learning dog body language opens up an entire form of communication and understanding. Reading your dog’s body language is important to building a bond. Taking the time to read their body language and understanding what it could mean will save everyone frustration and possible heartache in the future.
Quick Healthy-Dog Tips:
- Learn your dog’s body language to tell when something isn’t right and if they may not feel well.
- Make sure to feed a balanced diet with the proper nutrition
- Puppies/dogs need a lot of sleep, so make sure they have comfortable, quiet places to get their rest. A typical dog will sleep around 16 hours per day.
- Never wake a sleeping dog!
- Puppies/dogs are social and need exercise, so make sure to take time to play with them regularly
- Help your dog socialize by working with them regularly and following training advice regarding socialization as outlined previously
- Follow your veterinarian’s advice for routine healthcare such as vaccinations, worming, flea treatment, etc.
Veterinary care is essential for every animal. Getting established with a veterinarian right away is key to ensuring your pet stays up to date on vaccinations and routine health maintenance. More now than ever, we recommend choosing a veterinarian before even bringing your new pet home.
Continuous and regular veterinary care is essential to your new dog’s health and long, happy life. Sometimes the idea of making an appointment, crating your dog, taking them into the car, and then into an unfamiliar environment can be intimidating to pet owners. You can do a few things to ease this process and help ensure your canine friend gets all their needed veterinary care.
- Understand that your dog may be nervous or frightened of new places and people. Be patient with them, and make sure to bring their favorite treats and perhaps a favorite toy.
- Take your dog to a Fear Free Practice. These practices have made specific changes to their practices to help relieve stress and provide a calming environment for pets.
- If you have a multi-dog household, allow the returning dog some time to decompress before rejoining the rest of the canine family. It allows them to calm down and have some time to rest.
When you adopted your new dog, you received a Pet Health and Immunization Record that you can utilize to maintain records of all of your dog’s routine medical care.
CHOOSING A VETERINARIAN
Choose a veterinarian near your home whose hours work well with your schedule. Consider asking friends and family with pets for recommendations on veterinarians in your area. When you’ve found a few you are interested in, read reviews online.
Research how your veterinarian’s office manages emergencies, so you are prepared. For example, do they answer after-hours calls or work with a local emergency clinic? If necessary, be sure also to learn where your nearest Emergency Veterinary Hospital is. Having the address and phone number pre-programmed into your phone is a good idea.
FIRST VETERINARY VISIT
Schedule a veterinary visit for your new dog within one month of adoption. The NOAH Center provides a Free Health Exam Voucher that can be used at several clinics. This exam helps you and your new pet get established with a veterinarian who can journey with you throughout your dog’s life. They will double-check any medical needs and schedule vaccines, which will likely be soon if you adopt a puppy.
Some puppies/dogs have ears that require regular cleaning and care to help your dog hear and avoid discomfort. Most of the time, ears that droop down and are not open to the air, in general, will require more care as dirt and germs can stay trapped in the internal ear areas. Your veterinarian can advise you on the best products to help clean and maintain the health of your canine’s ears.
You may notice that your dog may have dry nasal secretions at the edge of their nostrils, which can be removed with a wet, warm cotton ball or tissue. Consult your veterinarian if your dog’s nose is excessively dry or snotty, which could point to an underlying issue.
All animals are spayed/neutered before adoption. If the spay/neuter surgery took place recently at The NOAH Center, you would receive a copy of the after-care surgery instructions in the waiver documents emailed to you at the time of adoption.
If you have any questions regarding the incision site, please send a photograph of the incision to email@example.com, and a team member will reach out to you to discuss any next steps that need to be taken for the health and well-being of your puppy/dog.
When you adopt your new dog, they will be up to date on all basic vaccinations and treatments, including K-9 Distemper Combo (DA2PPV), Rabies (if they are over 4 months old), de-wormer, and flea prevention. Below is more information about common vaccines, treatments, and diseases.
K-9 Distemper Combo (DA2PPV)
This vaccine helps prevent canine distemper and Parvovirus. Vaccines are started at 6 to 9 weeks of age and are given every two weeks while the animal is at the shelter. All puppies will have had at least two DA2PPV vaccines before adoption. While this offers some protection, it is recommended not to allow your puppy to walk on grounds frequented by adult dogs until they are fully vaccinated after their fourth vaccine, usually around 4 months. It is extremely important to schedule these vaccines immediately after adoption to avoid having to start the series again and to get your puppy fully protected as soon as possible so you can begin to work more on socialization. After adoption, follow your veterinarian’s advice regarding the frequency of boosters. This vaccine is usually given to adult dogs every 1 to 3 years.
Parvovirus is a severe disease that, left untreated, has a mortality rate of 91%. For more information on parvo, please click on the link below or look up Parvovirus on the website www.akc.org.
This vaccine helps prevent Rabies and is first administered around 16 weeks of age. If you adopted a puppy under that age, you would be responsible for taking your puppy to get that vaccine. If your dog is older than 16 weeks, they will have received their Rabies vaccine before adoption, and a re-vaccination date will be listed on the medical documents that are emailed to you at the time of adoption. Please work with your veterinarian to determine a re-vaccination schedule that works into the complete healthcare plan of your pet.
Most dogs adopted from The NOAH Center will NOT have been given a Bordatella vaccine. While this is not a standard shelter vaccine, many doggy daycares and boarding facilities will require it before your dog will be allowed to attend. Some of our dogs have already received this vaccine before arrival at The NOAH Center. If this is the case, then it will be noted in their Medical Summary Report and the Medical View Report, which are emailed to adopters upon completion of the adoption.
For more information on Bordetella (Kennel Cough), please click on the link below or search Bordetella at www.akc.org.
Dogs from the shelter often require follow-up care for various parasite prevention. It is important to remember that shelter dogs likely have not received primary care for much of their lives and will need a thorough medical evaluation and treatments to help overcome these challenges.
Listed below are some common types of parasites, both internal and external. Regular preventative treatments can help minimize these parasites’ impact on your pet. Work with your veterinarian to determine the best prevention regimen for you and your dog.
External parasites live outside a dog’s body and can often be visibly seen, especially in dogs with shorter or light-colored fur. If you have a dog with long or dark-colored fur, look them over often and watch for signs of external parasites such as itching.
Preventing fleas is much easier than overcoming an infestation. Flea preventions are oral or topical and should be given regularly as your veterinarian recommends. Prevention should be given all year long, but it is especially important during the spring and summer. Please talk to your veterinarian about what type of flea prevention is the best for your new dog.
If you find yourself with an infestation, see our Resources section on our website:
Ear mites cause ear infections by living in the ear canal. Their presence can be detected by an abundance of blackish and waxy discharge coming from the ear and signs of ear irritation, including head shaking and rubbing the ears. Please seek the proper treatment from your veterinarian.
Ringworm is a contagious fungal infection that affects the skin and can transmit to humans and almost all other animals. It is very resilient and highly contagious, especially in cats. Please seek the proper veterinary treatment, and while ringworm is entirely treatable, be prepared for a long and somewhat complex treatment plan.
Ticks are picked up almost exclusively outdoors. Ticks usually attach themselves around the neck and ears and can cause severe inflammation. When removing a tick, remove the tick’s head completely.
Mange is a skin disease that causes severe itching and is highly contagious. It’s caused by mites that burrow under the skin’s surface and lay eggs. Dogs usually catch mange through direct contact or shared bedding with other dogs. But a less common type is passed from mother to puppy and flares up if the puppy’s immune system is weakened.
Symptoms of mange include intense scratching, skin rashes, hair loss, and crusted skin, which can lead to secondary infections. Various treatments are available for mange from your vet and can often be cleared within a month.
Glancing at your dog’s stool may seem odd, but it’s a great way to gauge their internal health, including if internal parasites are present. Often a glance is enough to notice worms. Below is a list of common internal parasites in dogs; each will require a veterinary visit for treatment.
These small worms can lodge in a dog’s small intestine and cause blockages if not treated. They can be detected by the visual presence of eggs in the dog’s stool or their rectal area.
Hookworms attach to the small intestine and feed off the dog’s blood leading to a serious loss of blood and nutrients.
Tapeworms are long, flat, white worms and can cause severe weight loss. Tapeworm “segments” break off in the stool, and you may see what appear to be rice-sized and shaped worms in the stool, the rectal area, or even dried out in their bedding.
Are the least common and most challenging to diagnose. Keep a close eye on your dog’s body language and watch for symptoms like lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting, coarse coat, blood in the stool, and visible worms. Immediately consult your veterinarian if you see any of these symptoms.
HYGIENE & GROOMING
Grooming your dog is important to help them maintain a healthy coat and can benefit eye, ear, and nose hygiene. In addition, consistent handling will help familiarize you with your dog’s physical well-being and can help alert you if something is abnormal.
Getting your dog used to be handled and touched from an early age is important. If a dog is introduced to grooming early, the process will be less stressful and easier for you!
Tools for Grooming Your Dog:
- Nail Clippers
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Dog Shampoo
It is important to pay attention to coat length and groom appropriately for your dog’s coat.
While breeds with short hair, such as Dalmatians, German Shorthaired Pointers, and Great Danes, don’t require regular grooming, they need to be brushed once or twice a week. Dead skin and hair are loosened by brushing against the hair with a rubber brush. The debris can then be removed by using a bristle brush in the direction of the hair to prevent irritation.
SHORT – MEDIUM FUR
Breeds with short to medium hair include Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Border Collies. These breeds should be brushed every other day due to the density of the coat, which may consist of both a top and undercoat.
Use a slicker brush against the direction of the coat to loosen as much dead hair and skin as possible and strip the undercoat. A bristle brush can then be used in the direction of the hair to remove this debris.
A wide-tooth comb can be used on the tail and paws to remove debris and tangles gently.
Although beautiful, long-haired coats require daily brushing. It can be time-consuming but worthwhile for your dog’s health. Use a slicker brush, working in the direction of the hair, to loosen knots and mats. Because the hair is so long, this may pull the skin, so it should be done gently.
Using a bristle brush on breeds with silky coats, like Yorkshire Terriers, will add sheen. A wire brush can be used to remove impurities from a thick undercoat.
A wide-tooth comb can untangle hair under their chest and legs. The hair can be trimmed to equal length with scissors, which can also be used to remove hairs that are most likely to form knots or attract foreign bodies.
The coat of coarse-haired breeds, such as Irish Terriers and Schnauzers, must be stripped four to five times a year. It can be done with a stripping knife by trapping dead hairs between the knife and thumb. It is not at all painful for the dog if done correctly. A professional groomer should be the one to use this grooming technique.
Poodles, Bichons Frises, and other curly-haired breeds have very different coat care needs to others. While they are known to shed less, their coats are more prone to mats and require brushing daily.
Using a slicker brush, gently remove debris and comb out tangles across the whole body. Please catpay close attention to their legs, paws, and undersides to remove any foreign bodies which could have been collected during walks.
Some dogs require regular bathing to help them keep clean and healthy. It is especially true if your dog likes swimming or rolling outdoors. Bathe your dog only as needed, as excessive baths can cause dryness and skin irritation.
How to bathe your dog:
Let your dog become accustomed to the bath without any water, allow them to sniff the area, and praise them as they do so. Run the bath with lukewarm water to avoid burns and gradually introduce the dog. Wet the coat all over, apply specialty dog shampoo, and be careful around the eyes, ears, and mouth. Continue to praise and reassure your dog through the whole process. Rinse thoroughly with plenty of water, being cautious to avoid the eyes and ears.
After the bath, rub your puppy vigorously with a towel and keep it in a warm room until it’s properly dry. In the summer, the alternative is patting a puppy down in the yard or taking it for a walk, as long as they don’t like rolling in mud. A hairdryer may be recommended for curly-coated dogs, but take care not to burn them and brush their fur out while you dry.
Your vet can recommend the most appropriate cleaning routine for your dog’s ears based on type. Dogs have dropped (floppy) or pricked (standing up) ears; those with dropped ears may require more care than other breeds as they form a protected inner area and tend to catch and hold material like dirt and ear wax, and random particles from playing outside. If you are advised to clean your dog’s ears at home, do so with a specially formulated solution. Carefully squeeze a few drops into your puppy’s ear canal, then gently massage the base of their ear for around 30 seconds. If there is any solution remaining, wipe the ear carefully with a cotton ball. Your veterinarian can show you how to do this at your appointment if needed.
Just like people, puppies/dogs may start to suffer from plaque buildup when they begin to eat solid food. If this is not removed, it can result in tartar and inflammation of the gums. The best way to care for your dog’s teeth is by brushing them several times a week with a toothbrush and toothpaste specifically designed for dogs. Chewing bars may also slow down the formation of plaque and tartar. Ideally, dogs should be given no more than two or three chewing bars a week to help prevent plaque and tartar buildup. It’s important to ensure these are considered in the dog’s daily calorie count to avoid excess weight gain. Ask your vet which type might be best for your dog.
Some breeds, especially small-breed dogs, are more prone to dental issues as they age. It is important to consider this when planning for finances and to decide which type of pet insurance to obtain.
Dogs have two types of nails: dewclaws and toenails. The dewclaw is often located on the side of their front and back legs, while the toenails are found on the paws. Your dog’s toenails can naturally wear down as they walk across hard surfaces, but you will likely need to clip them every 2 to 3 weeks.
Toenails should be trimmed carefully to avoid the blood vessels in a dog’s nails, also known as the “quick .”Trim the nail with special clippers from the bottom up. It should preferably be done at a 45-degree angle to the ground. The undercut should be smooth so that no cracks are formed on it.
If you are ever uncertain of when to trim your dog’s nails or would like a demonstration, your veterinarian or groomer should be able to assist.
Just like people, dogs have their food preferences. Many factors can influence a dog’s appetite, including breed, activity level, habits, and instincts.
One of the most common questions we hear during the adoption process is, “What should we feed our dog?” The answer is that you want to feed them a proper, balanced diet appropriate for their age and current health needs.
Some dogs have allergies to specific types of food. These allergies can manifest in symptoms including skin irritation, hair/fur loss, rashes, etc. It is important to see your veterinarian if you notice any of these symptoms in your dog so that they can run the proper allergy tests and get your canine friend on the right combination of food and medication therapy if needed.
Avoid giving them table scraps to maintain a balanced diet for your dog. Ensuring your dog receives a healthy and balanced diet formulated for canines will help them live a longer and happier life.
A puppy’s dietary needs change as they grow into adulthood, depending on their breed. To ensure your puppy is appropriately supported throughout growth, keep them on a puppy and size-specific diet until they reach adulthood.
Between the ages of 2 to 4 months, the focus is on supporting the development of your puppy’s skeletal structure with carefully regulated amounts of calcium, phosphorus, and Vitamin D.
By the time they are 4 to 7 months old, puppies are starting to build their body mass and need plenty of high-quality, easy-to-digest protein.
As puppies approach adulthood, they still need extra nutritional support for their joints, especially larger breeds, as their muscles fill out and put pressure on their skeleton.
No matter how much you love your dog, provide them with great care, and do all the right things, sometimes accidents still happen. It is important to be prepared for these situations, and knowing what to do can help save your pet’s life.
DOG FIRST-AID KIT
- Alcohol-based disinfectant
- Antiseptic solution
- Bandaging materials: gauze pads and rolls, rolled cotton, self-adhesive wraps, tube socks for slipping over an injured paw
- Cotton balls
- Eye dropper
- Extra blankets and pillows
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Petroleum jelly
- Rectal thermometer
- Blunt end scissors
- Transport crate
- When animals are in pain, their behavior can be highly unpredictable. Your otherwise docile and friendly dog may growl or bite
- NEVER put your face near an injured dog’s head
- Perform any examinations slowly and carefully, making sure to stop immediately if the dog becomes agitated
- Pad the injured area with bandages and gauze or improvise with towels, clothing, etc.
- Before any necessary transport, do your best to stabilize any injuries. For example, you can use rolled newspapers/magazines to create temporary splints
- Use a rectal thermometer to check the temperature. Newer digital thermometers are good options
- You can check your dog’s heart rate by placing your hand over your dog’s chest and counting the beats per minute
- Respiration can be measured by observing flanks or holding wet fingers in front of your dog’s nostrils and counting the breaths per minute
- Neutralize a bee sting with baking soda
- Neutralize a wasp sting with vinegar or lemon juice
- Apply a cold compress
- Apply calamine or another antihistamine cream
- In case of severe swelling or difficulty breathing, transport to a veterinary clinic immediately
- Gently pull the tongue forward and inspect the mouth and throat
- If a foreign object is found, hold the mouth open and attempt to remove it by hand with tweezers or a pair of small pliers. Be careful not to push the object further down the dog’s throat
- If the dog ceases to breathe, go to the nearest emergency veterinarian immediately
- Arterial bleeding requires emergency veterinary attention. It will be bright red, bleed in spurts, and be very difficult to stop
- Apply clean gauze or a sterile cloth to the wound
- Apply direct pressure for at least 5 to 7 minutes to stop the bleeding
- Seek veterinary care as soon as possible
- Immediately place the dog in a cool shaded area. Bathe the dog in tepid water as soon as possible. NEVER leave your dog unattended while soaking, even if they are conscious
- Monitor rectal temperature.
- Transport to an emergency clinic. Keep monitoring their temperature, and do not allow the dog to become chilled
- Gently attempt to localize the injury. Examine the affected area to check for pain, swelling, heat
- If a fracture is suspected, gently stabilize the limb for transport
- Cover any open wounds with a clean, dry cloth. If the animal is bleeding, see the section on bleeding.
- Examine the vomit for blood or other clues that may help determine the cause
- Gently press on the stomach to detect any abdominal pain. Withhold all food and water until a veterinarian has been consulted
- If poisoning is suspected, call your veterinarian right away. Bring a sample of the suspected poison, if possible, preferably in original packaging, to the veterinarian
OTHER SIGNS OF EMERGENCY
Abdominal pain, enlarged stomach, and unproductive vomiting are serious signs. If you see these, contact your veterinarian immediately. There are many possible causes, and only your veterinarian can determine the cause and best steps for treatment. If your veterinarian is unavailable, contact your Emergency Veterinary Hospital.
The ingestion of harmful substances can cause vomiting. Ensure that the substances listed in this next section are locked up or kept securely away from your pets. If you have further questions or need more information on a substance, please consult the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control at 1-800-548-2423.
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- At Home Perm Solution
- Boric Acid
- Brake Fluid
- Carburetor Fluid
- Dandruff Shampoo
- De-icers for melting snow
- Diet Pills
- Drain cleaner
- Dry-cleaning fluid
- Fire Extinguisher
- Furniture Polish
- Hair Coloring
- Metal Polish
- Mineral Spirits
- Nail Polish and remover
- Paint remover
- Photographic developers
- Pills (such as Coumadin)
- Pine-oil disinfectants
- Rat Poison
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Shoe Polish
- Sleeping Pills
- Snail or bug bait
- Suntan Oil with cocoa butter
- Windshield washer fluid
In addition, two common household items that are very/poisonous to dogs:
- Chocolate: Chocolate is one of the most dangerous foods a puppy can consume, as it contains caffeine and theobromine – both of which stimulate a dog’s nervous system. The amount and type of chocolate eaten are major factors in how sick a dog may become. If you suspect your dog ate chocolate, take them to the veterinarian immediately.
- Xylitol: Xylitol can be found in sugar-free gum, peanut butter, candy, and even some baked goods. When a dog consumes xylitol, the pancreas releases a massive amount of insulin, which decreases blood sugar levels, also known as hypoglycemia. Xylitol can also cause liver failure if eaten in high quantities. A trip to the vet is recommended if a puppy is suspected of having ingested an item containing xylitol and is exhibiting symptoms such as vomiting, weakness, or diarrhea.
Azalea and Rhododendron: Used in landscaping and found in the wild, the entire genus is extremely dangerous for dogs. Eating even a few leaves can cause serious issues, including vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, paralysis, shock, coma, and death.
Holly: Varieties include American holly, English holly, Japanese holly, and Christmas holly. Although some are less toxic than others, it is best to keep your dog away from any variety. Eating the leaves can result in vomiting, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal injury due to the plant’s spiny leaves. Symptoms include lip-smacking, drooling, and head shaking.
Hydrangea: With high concentrations of toxic substances in the flowers and leaves, ingestion can cause lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting, and other gastrointestinal upsets.
Ivy: Although a vine rather than a shrub, ivy is a common part of many landscapes. The foliage of certain types of ivy plants is dangerous to dogs, although not usually lethal. Ingestion can result in excessive salivation and drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, a swollen mouth and tongue, and difficulty breathing.
Oleander: All parts of this popular ornamental shrub are toxic to humans and dogs. If your dog ingests the flowers or leaves, he can experience extreme vomiting, an abnormal heart rate, and even death. Other signs to look for include tremors, drooling, seizures, and weakness.
Peony: These gorgeous flowering plants contain the toxin paeonol in their bark and may cause vomiting and diarrhea if ingested in large amounts.
Sago Palm: Often used as an ornamental shrub in temperate zones, it’s considered one of the most toxic plants for dogs. Every part of the plant is poisonous, especially the seeds. Ingesting just a few seedpods can result in acute liver failure. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, bloody stools, decreased appetite, and nosebleeds.
Black Walnut: The tree itself isn’t dangerous, but the nuts that fall to the ground can be. They start to decay very quickly and produce mold, so when dogs ingest them, they cause digestive upset and even seizures.
Chinaberry: The berries, leaves, bark, and flowers of this tree all contain toxins that can result in anything from vomiting and diarrhea to weakness, slow heart rate, seizures, and shock.
Fruit trees: The fruits of trees such as plums, apricot, peach, and even avocado contain pits, and the seeds of cherries and apples contain toxins that can make your dog sick and are choking hazards. Even if they only eat the fruit, overeating can cause diarrhea.
Horse Chestnut (Buckeye): This tree contains saponin, which causes vomiting and diarrhea, dilated pupils, affects the central nervous system, and can also lead to convulsions and coma.
Japanese Yew: All varieties, from the dwarf to the giant trees, contain dangerous toxins that can be fatal to dogs. Symptoms include tremors, vomiting, difficulty breathing, and seizures. Their bright green leaves and red berries make them popular holiday decorations, but they should not be used in homes where dogs live.
Other nut trees: As a general rule, nuts aren’t safe for dogs. Avoid letting your dog eat the nuts from almonds, pecan, hickory, walnut, or other nut trees.
Ingestion can cause gastrointestinal problems and intestinal blockage.
FLOWERS AND BULBS
Autumn Crocus: These fall-blooming plants contain colchicine, which is extremely toxic, causing gastrointestinal bleeding, severe vomiting, kidney and liver damage, and respiratory failure. Symptoms might be delayed for several days, so don’t wait to seek veterinary attention if your dog has ingested any part of this plant.
Begonia: Often used in containers, these tubers can cause mouth irritation and difficulty swallowing when ingested.
Chrysanthemum: These common flowers contain lactones and pyrethrin, which cause intestinal irritation. While not lethal, eating any part of the plant can result in vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, skin rashes, and loss of coordination.
Daffodil: Ingesting any part of the plant, especially the bulb, can cause severe vomiting, drooling, tremors, respiratory distress, convulsions, and heart problems.
Foxglove: All parts of these tall beautiful flowers, from the seeds to the petals, are incredibly toxic to dogs. Ingestion can cause cardiac failure and even death.
Geranium: All varieties of this common container plant are poisonous to dogs. The symptoms include lethargy, low blood pressure, skin rashes, and loss of appetite.
Iris: Ingesting any plant part can cause skin irritation, drooling, diarrhea, vomiting, and lethargy.
Lily: With so many varieties of lilies, it’s hard to remember which are dangerous and relatively benign. Some (for example, daylilies) are highly toxic to cats but cause only gastrointestinal upset in dogs. Others, such as the calla lily, release a substance that burns and irritates a dog’s mouth and stomach, and symptoms can be mild to severe.
Lily of the Valley: Symptoms of ingestion include diarrhea, vomiting, a drop in heart rate, and cardiac arrhythmia.
Tulip and Hyacinth: The bulb is the most toxic part, but any part of these early-blooming flowers can harm dogs, irritating the mouth and esophagus. Typical symptoms include excessive drooling and vomiting. If many bulbs are eaten, symptoms may be increased heart rate and irregular breathing. However, with care from a vet, dogs usually recover with no further ill effects.