Basic Nutrition: Feeding Your Dog

Most adult dogs do well with one meal per day. All dogs, regardless of size, need the same nutrients. Only the amounts will vary. Avoid overfeeding. Use the manufacturer’s recommendations on your dog food package as a guide, but keep in mind that the amount of food your dog gets may have to be adjusted according to the individual dog, your own observations and the climate in which you live (dogs in warmer climates may require less food). If your dog is moderately active, a regular feeding schedule using recommended amounts should be sufficient. However, if he is more active, less active, or overweight, consult your veterinarian about the optimum feeding plan to ensure your dog’s good health. Remember, too, that your dog is a creature of habit-from the type of food he eats to the time he eats it. To keep his appetite and bowel movements regular, it’s important to feed him at the same time each day. If you change to a new food, do so gradually. Start out by adding a little of the new food to the old, steadily increasing the amount of new food until it completely replaces the old. Fussy eaters usually have been spoiled by getting tidbits from the table or by “holding out” for a favorite food. You should never feed your dog table food. If he is fussy, don’t give in. Be firm and insist that your dog eat the proper food. Put the food in his dish. If he walks away from it, remove the dish. At the next regular feeding time, repeat the process. You aren’t starving him. His fast is self-imposed, and he will eat the food you give him before he does any harm to himself. Once he does eat, keep to a regular pattern of feeding and don’t give in-between meal handouts.

Making Water Readily Available

In addition to a proper diet, it is very important to provide plenty of fresh water for your dog at all times. Water comprises approximately two-thirds of a dog’s total body weight. Water is not stored in the body like some other nutrients, so it must constantly be replaced.

Regular Veterinary Care

  • Vaccinations
  • Parasites & Lyme Disease
  • Heartworm
  • Dental Care
  • Special Needs
  • Spaying/Neutering

It is always better to prevent a problem than treat one. So any basic health care plan for your dog should include regular visits to your veterinarian. Regular veterinary care will identify potential trouble areas and allow early treatment if it is needed. Your adult dog should have a thorough physical examination at least once a year. Your veterinarian will check for disease, parasites and skin disorders, as well as any potential eye, ear and dental problems. You should also keep a health record for your pet. If you move, or are traveling, knowing what ailments, treatments and inoculations your dog has had could be very important.

Ongoing Vaccinations

It’s wise to immunize. To protect your pet against the more common canine diseases, your veterinarian will set up a vaccination schedule. Since some of these diseases can be life-threatening, strict adherence to an ongoing vaccination program should be kept. A typical program includes: Yearly DHLPP boosters to prevent distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, and canine parvovirus. A rabies booster every one to three years.

Looking Out For Parasites And Lyme Disease

Whether internal or external, parasites can cause great discomfort for your dog and can lead to severe illnesses. Weight loss, coughing, diarrhea or bloody stools may indicate the presence of internal parasites. The five most common internal parasites found in dogs are coccidia, roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms and whipworms. If you suspect internal parasites, take a stool sample to your veterinarian for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. Another internal parasite, heartworms, can only be detected by blood analysis. If your dog scratches constantly, he may have fleas or ticks. Ticks appear as small, dark spots and may feel like bumps on his skin. You can remove ticks with tweezers and gloves, but ask your veterinarian how to remove them safely. Check for fleas near the base of his tail or on his belly. Treatments include flea collars, powders and sprays, flea soaps and shampoos.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is carried by certain species of ticks and causes fever, weakness, recurring arthritis and even heart problems in dogs. Once acquired, the disease may be treated successfully, though prevention is the best form of protection for your pet. A vaccine against Lyme disease is available through your veterinarian.

Have A Heart! Protect Your Dog Against Heartworms

We stress the importance of keeping your dog on heartworm prevention medicine. Surprisingly, many still do not recognize the suffering and life-threatening effects of heartworm infection. Found in the heart and pulmonary arteries of an infected dog, adult heartworms are between 6 and 12 inches long. These adult worms produce larvae which is circulated in the blood. When mosquitoes bite an infected dog, they can transmit the disease to other dogs that they bite. Dogs in the early stages of heartworm infection may show no symptoms, but eventually they can exhibit signs such as tiring easily, loss of weight, breathing problems, and eventually liver disease and heart failure. Fortunately, heartworm prevention medicine is an easy means of control. Before administering any heartworm prevention medicine, however, be sure to first have your dog tested for heartworms. Giving this medicine to a heartworm infected dog is dangerous to their health.

Heartworm Treatment

It is possible to rid a dog of heartworms, but the treatment is expensive and not without risk to the animal’s health. The treatment consists of one or two injections of an arsenic-based compound that kills the adult heartworms. Additional medicine is then required to kill the larvae in the bloodstream. After this treatment, the dog must be tested to insure he is free of the infection before beginning heartworm prevention medicine. Obviously, prevention of heartworm infection is much more preferable than this risky and expensive treatment. Call your vet or the Humane Society today to discuss heartworm prevention!

Dental Care

Just like people, dogs can develop gum disease brought on by buildup of plaque and tartar on teeth. Some signs of gum disease include a decreased appetite, excessive drooling, and very bad breath. Since a diseased mouth can affect a dog’s entire well-being, you should follow a preventive dental care program. Have your dog’s teeth examined by your veterinarian once a year and follow his recommendations regarding dental care at home.

Special Needs

Many people enjoy taking their dog along when they jog or engage in other types of physical exercise. If your dog has not been active at this level in the past, ease him into any type of strenuous physical exercise gradually. This is no different from the way that people ease into an exercise routine when it is new. Active dogs expend a great deal more energy than the average pet. It is absolutely vital to provide food that meets their increased nutritional demands.

The Advantages of Spaying/Neutering

Many pet owners wonder whether or not to have their animals spayed or neutered. Studies show significant health and behavioral benefits can be gained. For females, spaying reduces the risk of uterine infection or cancer, cuts the risk of mammary tumors, and eliminates uncomfortable and inconvenient cyclical heats. For males, neutering stops the risk of testicular cancer as well as prostate problems. Neutering can also mean less aggression with a decreased desire to roam, but only if neutering occurs prior to these behaviors first being exhibited.

Helpful Hints

  • Housebreaking
  • Puppy Points
  • Grooming
  • Training
  • Travel
  • Exercise
  • First Aid

Housebreaking (See Crate Training)

Accidents will happen. Treat indoor accidents with patience. Never punish your dog after the fact, and don’t rub his nose in the stain. These actions will only confuse him. Instead, praise him when he uses the appropriate spot. When stains do occur, immediately clean them with a stain remover that is ammonia-free. Dogs often mistake the scent of ammonia-based cleaners for urine and will resoil the area. Scolding won’t help housetrain a dog. Affection and food treats will. Offer your dog a food treat every time it eliminates outside and continue to reward in this manner until the behavior becomes routine. Then provide treats occasionally as reinforcement.

Puppy Points

To stop your pup from chewing shoes and furniture, stuff chew toys with kibbles, broken-up biscuits, or peanut butter to relieve boredom and “scratch the itch” to get into mischief. Pups develop bladder control at about three months. Until then, keep them in a size-appropriate crate, and take them out on a leash at least every hour. Most puppies have enough teeth by 4 weeks of age to nip at toes and shoestrings and to eat soft foods to supplement mom’s milk. They should have a full set of puppy teeth when they are 3 months old. During its few two weeks of life, a puppy will sleep 90% of the time. The remaining 10 percent of its time is spent eating and interacting with littermates. Never fly off the handle when your puppy does something you disapprove of, or it will begin to fear you. Instead, treat it as a teaching moment and say “No” in an even voice.

Good Grooming

Help your dog look and feel his best with regular grooming and periodic bathing. Gently brush your pet every few days to keep his coat tangle-free and his skin healthy. Regular grooming prevents dandruff by distributing skin oils, and it’s an excellent time to check for fleas, ticks, skin infections, or ear mites. Other grooming tips include: occasional bathing with a mild soap like a quality dog shampoo; thorough rinsing with lukewarm water and use of a cotton ball or soft cloth for the outer portion of the inside ear. To remove ticks, use gloves or a tissue, grasp them by the body and pull them straight out. Clean the affected area, and wash your hands thoroughly; ticks can transmit disease through open skin.

Basic and Advanced Training

Training your pet is important. It prevents accidents and injuries to both your dog and people. Misbehavior-the No. 1 reason dogs wind up in shelters-can often be prevented with obedience classes and in-home training. Give a dog the gift of a stable home-yours-by taking it to behavior classes before small problems grow into big ones. Training usually begins no later than age five to six months with basic commands, such as “come”, “sit”, “stay”, “down”, and “heel.” More complex commands and obedience training are reserved for more mature dogs. Advanced training typically includes exercises such as following hand commands. Reinforce good conduct using dog treats as rewards for correct response. When you take on the job of training, remember: be positive (never hit, jerk on the leash or otherwise treat the dog roughly), be firm, stick to a regular schedule, remain consistent, stay patient, respond immediately and end all sessions with a great deal of praise and love. Lavishly praise a dog during training; it thrives on encouragement. Most dogs can’t resist praise, which can make even a stubborn dog more compliant. Consistency is key to good behavior. Make sure all members of the family understand and enforce the rules your dog is expected to follow.

Traveling Tips

Pets love taking trips with their owners and can become stressed without their owners around. If your travel plans allow, take your pet along, but follow these guidelines: Before a trip, have your pet examined and make sure vaccinations are current. You also might want to inquire about the need for pet tranquilizers. Don’t forget health record, leash, collar, brush, comb, regular food, food and water bowls, and favorite playthings. Check with hotels and motels before your arrive to make sure pets are allowed. If your pet flies with you, check with the airline about layovers. Long layovers can be extremely stressful for your pet and should be avoided. And be sure to retrieve your pet quickly, once you arrive. Don’t feed your dog just prior to traveling. This will help avoid motion sickness. When flying, traveling by train, or traveling to another country, be sure to check pet policies. Health certificates, obtainable from your veterinarian, are required for most commercial travel.

Exercise is Essential

Routine exercise is important for your dog and it should be an important part of your basic health plan. In addition to helping to prevent obesity and poor muscle development, regular exercise maintains vigor in your pet. Provide exercise daily by walking or jogging with your dog, or by making sure your dog has play activity. When exercising, it’s important to keep his physical condition in mind, especially if your dog is overweight.

Common First Aid

Knowing how to respond to an emergency situation can save your pet’s life. Following are some first aid basics; however, it’s always wise to consult your veterinarian if an injury has occurred: Minor cuts should be cleaned with antiseptic soap and water, then apply antiseptic medication and bandages. More severe cuts may require stitches. Consult your veterinarian. Poisoning can be caused by many things, from garden chemicals and human medicine to garbage. Symptoms may include retching, trembling, pain, vomiting and convulsions. If you know what your pet has ingested take the substance and some vomitus, if he has thrown up, along with your dog to the veterinarian. Finally, keep your veterinarian’s phone number readily at hand and, whenever possible, call before brining your pet in.

From “Dog Care” by Heinz Pet Products

Did You Know?

  • Dogs can often be great conversation pieces to break the ice among singles. Who knows? On your next trip to the park or walk around the block, your pup might be the ticket to a long and lasting romance.
  • The American Kennel Club’s 10 most popular breeds: Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Poodles, Beagles, Dachshunds, Cocker Spaniels, Yorkshire Terriers and Pomeranians.
  • Give yourself peace of mind-and your dog a secure future-by arranging for its care in the event that you become unable to care for yourself.
  • Family pets commonly exhibit fear or jealousy when confronted by new people or pets coming into a household. Introduce newcomers gradually, and don’t ignore the top dog.
  • Try this antidote for a “skunked” dog: mix a cup of baking soda and 16 ounces of hydrogen peroxide with three to five drops of shampoo. Apply the mixture to your dog’s coat, and allow it to sit for 10 minutes before rinsing. Commercial products are also available.
  • Dogs are more nearsighted than humans. They see clearer up close than far away. But canine eyes are structured so that they can see in dimmer light than humans.
  • Ignore barking and avoid eye contact when your dog barks to get attention. When the barking stops, reward your dog with a treat or praise it. Coddling simply reinforces an unacceptable behavior.
  • Hold the onions-or at least minimize their use. Too many onions can be toxic to dogs. Moldy cheese, apple seeds, cherry pits, potato skins, rhubarb, and tobacco may also poison dogs.
  • President John F. Kennedy’s Welsh Terrier, Charlie, is said to have calmed him during the anxious days of the Cuban missile crisis.
  • National Pet Recovery reported that 11 percent of its cases involved stolen dogs. Of that number, 67 percent were taken from secured areas for personal use or medical laboratory testing.
  • Ingesting just two ounces of antifreeze can kill a dog. Clean spills immediately and keep dogs leashed when around parked cars and driveways. Or, use the new propylene glycol-based antifreeze, which is less toxic to dogs.
  • Dogs’ olfactory membranes take up to 10,000 times as much space than the same membranes do in humans, and account for dogs’ far more acute sense of smell.
  • The sloppiest droolers: Newfoundlands, St. Bernards, Basset Hounds.
  • States with the highest percentage of dog ownership in 1998 were Arkansas, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming.
  • A study by the University of California Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine showed that Alzheimer’s patients who interacted with the family dog had fewer anxiety episodes and less hyperactivity than patients who had to contact with animals.
  • Combat doggie boredom-stuff a safe and healthy chew bone with kibbles or a few treats, and your dog is likely to stay occupied for hours.
  • Motivate changes in your dog’s behavior through affection, persistence, patience, and food treats, which provide comfort and pleasure. Using tactics that cause fear and pain are counterproductive, dangerous and cruel.

Last Thoughts


Make sure your dog eats high-quality food every day and has fresh water available at all times.

Training and Behavior

Most behavior problems — like constant barking or getting into the trash — can be solved with a little training. Don’t give up; contact an animal trainer or behavior consultant for help.


Spend quality time with your pet every day. Playing with and walking your dog will allow you both to bond. It will also relieve your dog’s boredom, which can lead to behavior problems such as digging and barking.


Pets need regular brushing, bathing and dental care, and breeds with long fur require frequent trips to the groomer.

Dog-Proofing Your Home

  • Use childproof latches on your cabinets.
  • Place medications, cosmetics, cleaners, chemicals and detergents on high shelves.
  • Keep trash cans covered or inside a latched cabinet.
  • Keep food out of reach (even if the food isn’t harmful, the wrapper could be).
  • Keep the toilet lid closed to prevent your dog from drinking harmful cleaning chemicals.
  • Place electrical and phone wires out of reach.
  • Put away children’s toys and games.
  • Move houseplants out of reach — they may be fatal if ingested.
  • Clean antifreeze from the garage floor and driveway — one taste can be lethal.
  • Keep all sharp objects and tools out of reach.

Open Truck Beds

Don’t let your dog ride in an open truck bed. An estimated 100,000 dogs die each year by being bumped from truck beds onto the road and into traffic. Also, do not leash your pet inside a truck bed. Many dogs have been strangled when bumped over the sides of trucks and left helplessly dangling. If your dog must ride in the back of the truck, put him in a crate secured to the truck bed.

Unattended Pets in Your Vehicle

Dogs are much more susceptible to heat stroke than humans. Temperatures inside a parked car can quickly reach levels that are lethal to your dog, even when the outdoor temperature is moderate. With an outdoor temperature of 72 degrees, the temperature in a parked car can reach 102 degrees in just 30 minutes.