Basic Dog Care

Each dog breed is different, as some animal require constant brushing, grooming, or playing. However, beyond the innumerable distinctions amongst breeds, there are some basic care requirements that all dogs ought to have.

Identification - ID Collars & Tracking Chips

One of the primary measures of protection you can take on behalf of your dog is to get them an ID collar with their name, their community license, and your contact information in case they are lost. Many owners now put a tracking chip on their dog's collar or use an implanted microchip in the case that their pet should ever go missing.

Housing & Handling

New puppies require increased attention because of their size and vulnerability. Be gentle as you carry them around, since their joints are weak and they are fragile. They will need a clean, quiet place to sleep, with soothing temperatures that are not too hot or cold. If your dog is an outside dog, make sure they have shade and water in hot weather and shelter in the cold or rain. Inside dogs will need a mat to sleep on.

Nutrition & Feeding

Providing the right food for a dog is not as simple as it sounds. There are important aspects to consider beyond the most popular brand of puppy chow on the shelf. The last decade or so has seen a rise of healthy holistic ingredients included in the pet food industry.

When shopping for your dog, be sure to look for the following components in the food brand you are considering:

Do Buy Do Not Buy
Protein rich food, with specified protein sources (like lamb, pork, beef, or salmon, etc). This needs to be the primary ingredient. The secondary ingredient would be the animal "protein meal" which is a combination of animal skin, fat, and bone. If a dog food brand contains things like grains, or blueberries alfalfa or potato and other starches, this is also a plus. Meat by-products, which is lower in price and quality. Avoid generic, unspecified fat sources, as companies could be producing dog good with fats such as used restaurant grease, or even fats extracted from road kill, etc. Any artificial colors or flavors and sweeteners ought to be avoided, as your dog will happily eat anything sweet though it may have almost no nutritional value. Lastly, be wary of corn supplements, which break down into sugar and can cause pain for a dog to digest, often resulting in skin allergies and joint swelling.

If you are moving from one brand of food to another, slowly add the new brand to the old brand for a few days in a row, until your dog is accustomed to the taste. Keep doing so, until the ratio is strongly in favor of the new brand, and then use the new brand by itself.

Puppies must be fed anywhere from 2-3 times daily while they are growing. They will also be teething from 3-6 months and may require chew toys to help them assuage the discomfort. After the first year, your dog can thrive on servings of food once to twice daily; this applies to fully grown adult dogs as well. If there are any questions or irregularities about your dog's appetite or food consumption, see a vet as soon as possible.

Exercise & Activity

All dogs need the space to move about freely, whether that is through extensive walks, doggie parks, playing fetch, or hiking on large grounds. This stimulates their minds, helps them stay fit, and able to function well within an enclosed environment. Animals who are routinely denied consistent outdoor exercise, show behavioral disorders that vary from breed to breed. This can manifest itself as increased aggression, or yappy and peevish temperaments, which ought to be avoided by thorough exercise.


Canines are not unlike humans emotionally, and do require focused investment and "play time." To avoid neglecting your dog, and helping him feel well-adjusted and loved, the owner must expect to invest sufficient time with his pet every week. Beyond the standard exercise requirement, the owner should consider wrestling, cuddling, petting and giving encouragement as necessary components to the dog's emotional health.


Bathing and brushing your dog ought to be semi-regular rituals that help improve the hygiene and quality of your puppy's life. Many dogs need to be washed weekly (particularly lap dogs, or "indoor" pets), while some who live on large properties and swim or remain outdoors may not require frequent upkeep. However, a clean and well-brushed dog will not only appear more presentable, but will also help you identify any ticks or cuts a dog might have recently picked up.

Health Care

One of the primary responsibilities of a dog-owner is to ensure that the puppy sees a well-reviewed veterinarian to make sure they have received their shots. These primary dog shots include: parvovirus (CPV), canine distemper virus (CDV), canine adenovirus (CAV), and rabies. There are other shots dogs can be given, though they are considered "non-core" vaccines. For dental health issues, there are dog tooth brushes available, as well as hygienic dog chews which help maintain bad breath and bacteria.

If you decide to spay or neuter your dog, it is best to do this before they have reached sexual maturity at 6-9 months of age. For other issues that typically plague dogs, such as worms, or ticks and fleas, there are over-the-counter ointments, shampoos, and tick/flea collars available. For worms, there are oral medications called "de-wormers" which can be fed to the dog, and or for more severe case, there are intravenous therapies that may be pursued. As always, it is advisable to bring your puppy in to see a vet and solve the problem with a medical professional.

New Dog Checklist (Items to Purchase)

  • food dish
  • water bowl
  • toys (plus safe chew toys/ bones)
  • brush
  • collar (or tracking device)
  • leash
  • carrier (if relevant for the dog's size)
  • dog bed (or box with blanket or towel)
  • dog tooth brush (or tooth chews) for bad breath
  • poop pick-up bags or scooper

Things Which are Dangerous for Dogs to Consume

  • chocolate
  • avocado
  • bread dough
  • moldy food
  • grapes or raisins
  • onions
  • garlic
  • poultry bones
  • coffee
  • alcohol

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