Mount Barker Veterinary Hospital

08 9851 1177

Dog Care

Purchasing a New Puppy

Owning a dog provides companionship, loyalty and affection for people of all ages and is an invaluable addition to families and individuals. However, it is important to find the breed of dog most suitable to your particular lifestyle and be aware of the responsibility that comes with dog ownership before you adopt or purchase a dog. As your veterinary hospital, we are willing to discuss the many aspects of dog care, including breed-specific medical problems and routine health care such as vaccinations, flea and tick control, desexing and worming that your future dog may need.

 

After purchasing your puppy or dog, there are several important aspects of their care, to consider:

  • We strongly recommend that you insure your new dog.
  • Suitable bedding such as washable rugs, cushions or blankets need to be provided in a weatherproof kennel or indoors.
  • A secure area such as a dog-proof yard is essential. Your dog should never be left unsupervised when tethered.
  • All dogs need daily exercise and mental stimulation to help avoid behavioural and health problems. Dogs view their human owners as being part of their pack and can develop behavioural issues if they feel neglected, bored or excluded. It is also vitally important that dogs are socialised with people and other dogs from an early age in order to learn appropriate interactive behaviours.
  • All pets require a minimum of one health check a year. On average, dogs age five to eight times faster than humans, allowing major health changes to develop in a relatively short amount of time. The risk of cancer, diabetes, obesity, arthritis, heart disease and other serious conditions all increase with age. However, a visit to us helps us diagnose, treat and even prevent health problems before they become life-threatening. Routine vaccinations, flea and tick control and worming are also recommended. A visit to us is also a good opportunity to ask about nutrition, behaviour, and other issues.
  • Nutrition is an important part of your dogs' care. A healthy and balanced diet is essential. This will provide protein to build the body; fats for skin and coat health; carbohydrates for energy; and minerals and vitamins for good bone development and healthy tissues.
  • It is essential to keep your dogs' teeth clean. A regular dental care routine will minimise tartar build-up on your pet’s teeth. Never give your dog cooked bones, as these can be brittle and easily splinter, causing harm to your dog.
  • Fresh water bowls must always be available for your dog. They should be kept clean and placed in the shade.
  • Grooming and brushing is essential, particularly for long-haired breeds. This helps remove dust, dead skin, loose hairs, grass seeds, and tangles and it also assists to shorten the coat moult, which occurs every autumn and spring. Dirty or smelly dogs should be bathed. However, keep in mind that frequent shampooing can strip the natural oils from the coat and cause skin dryness and irritation.

 

 

Nail Triming

Regular nail clipping, or trimming, should be part of the routine care of your pet. It is essential for elderly and indoor pets, whereas outdoor pets may wear their nails down naturally. The requirement for nail trimming can vary depending on breed, age, level of exercise and the environment in which your pet is kept. Working breeds of dogs are active and generally have compact feet with well arched toes that angle the toenails downwards towards the ground. If these dogs are active on hard surfaces such as gravel, rock and concrete, their nails may not need trimming until they slow down with age and exercise less, however you will still need to attend to their dew claws (the little claws on the inside of their front legs that don’t touch the ground) regularly.

 

Other breeds may have nails that grow more forward than downward, and therefore no matter how much exercise they get on rough ground, it is unlikely they will wear down naturally. Some dogs may benefit from having the tips of their nails taken off once every week or two, however for most it will be longer than this, and you will have to decide what is right for your dog by inspecting it's nails on a regular basis. Certainly if you notice a change in the sound of your dogs' nails on hard floors this is a pretty good indication that it is time for a trim.

 

What happens if my pet’s nails get too long?

If a pet's nails are allowed to grow, they can split, break or bleed, causing soreness or infection in your pet’s feet and toes. Long nails can get caught and tear, or grow so long that they can curl backwards into a spiral shape that can make walking very painful for dogs (it is like walking in shoes that are too small). Uncut nails may curl so far that they pierce the paw pad, leading to infection and debilitating pain. Nails should be inspected and / or trimmed on at least a monthly basis. If not, the quick tends to grow out with the nail, making it nearly impossible to cut properly. It is very important not to cut the quick of a nail as this is rich in nerve endings and very painful for the pet. If you do accidentally cut into the quick, pressing the nail into a bar of soap will effectively stop the bleeding.

 

Dog nail trim

 

 

Grooming

Grooming is an important part of pet care. Depending on the breed, age,and health of your pet, grooming may even need to be a part of you and your pet’s daily routine. Many breeds require less grooming than this, but regular grooming always helps to keep your pet healthy and comfortable.  Some breeds don't shed their hair effectively (e.g. Poodles) and require grooming by a professional every 6-8 weeks. Long haired cats can particularly benefit from regular grooming as it helps prevent the formation of knots on the skin and hairballs in the stomach.

 

We encourage you to engage in regular grooming with your pet at home. There are numerous benefits of regular grooming, for example:

  • Decreased chance of skin problems.
  • Optimal skin cleanliness and comfort for you and your pet.
  • Improved monitoring of health issues like cuts, heat, swelling, lameness, or changes in temperament.
  • Enhanced behavioural routines with obedient submission during grooming periods.
  • Closer bonding with your pet through regular contact

 

Boarding

Before considering whether to board your pet please check their vaccination records to make sure they have been vaccinated within the past 12 months. If your pet is due for a booster vaccination make sure this is done well ahead of the boarding period. It is a good idea to contact the boarding facility to check their individual policy as to how soon before boarding a vaccination can be administered.

 

When choosing a boarding facility, there are a number of factors to consider, such as:

  • How big are individual kennels?
  • Is there any natural light?
  • Will your pet have access to a run during the day?
  • How many kennels are there in the complex? Fewer kennels may mean a quieter, calmer stay.
  • Do the kennels smell bad? If so, this can indicate poor hygiene or ventilation problems.
  • Are the staff / owners welcoming, friendly and polite?
  • Did they require proof of vaccination? Vaccination is a legal requirement to help prevent the spread of disease.
  • Are there signs of overbooking or overcrowding?
  • Do they provide food or can you provide your own pet’s specific diet?
  • Can they medicate dogs if required?
  • Which veterinarian do they use in an emergency?

 

You will need to inform the boarding facility of any health problems your pet may have had or is prone to. If medication is to be administered you should let them know at time of booking. Write down the dose, frequency and name of medication. If on long term medication, please ensure you bring along extra just in case. Please provide the boarding facility with our details in the event that your pet needs veterinary attention in your absence.

 

An ideal boarding facility for your pet has a relaxed, calm atmosphere, and a design that minimises stress and allows maintenance of a high standard of hygiene.

 

Please give us a call to discuss boarding and determine if your pet is up to date with the required vaccinations.

 

Photo Credit Natasha Verrazi