Caring For Your Dog
One of the basics on how to take care for your dog is happening when you travel and moving house. Both travelling and moving house with a dog require a great deal of planning to ensure that the change in environment is introduced as smoothly as possible. Any change in routine can cause a huge change in your dog’s behaviour: some become excited, others become anxious.
What should I consider if I plan to travel or move house with my dog?
Before going anywhere, make sure that your dog has an identity collar. If taking your dog on holiday, you will need to put the address and telephone number of your destination on his collar, since your home address will be less useful. It is also helpful to have your dog identichipped by the veterinary surgeon in case he gets lost. Take enough dog-food, and do not alter his diet. Take his own bed and toys so that he will feel “at home”. Ensure that he is fully vaccinated, and has had a recent health check-up. Look up the name and address of a local vet in your holiday area in case of an emergency. Consider parasite control and discuss this with the vet: you may not get many ticks and fleas at home in the city, but if you are holidaying in the countryside this could pose a significant problem.
Travelling with your dog
Many dogs enjoy car journeys if regularly taken for short distances, and they often get very excited when the car stops, as they want to explore their surroundings. Discipline of dogs is particularly important during travel. Badly behaved dogs can distract the driver, causing an accident. Undisciplined dogs treat the car as a piece of territory, guarding it from passers-by. It is vital that the dog is either restrained on a lead by a passenger, or, better still, that a steel dog-guard is fitted behind or above the rear seat (estate cars). Smaller dogs can travel in a wire dog-cage, which should contain a blanket or bed, and be placed on the floor or securely on a seat, depending on the size of the car.
Do not allow your dog to stick his head out of the window, since he could be injured by passing vehicles, or try to jump out. The constant stream of air in his face can cause conjunctivitis. However, it is important that there is plenty of fresh air, so open the windows enough to allow circulation. There is no reason why your dog should not sniff this air, so long as the stream is not too strong – this is something that will keep him occupied! It is important that your dog does not become too hot: dogs are not able to control their body temperatures as well as humans. If you have air conditioning then use it. If the weather is very hot, you may need to stop for a break and find a shady area to rest. Always carry a large container of fresh water so that you can offer it during these rests.
Your dog should be trained to sit quietly during journeys. Some dogs become over-excited, and their owners often respond to this by making a fuss of them or scolding them. In either case the dog enjoys the attention and regards it as a reward; this reinforces his bad behaviour. It is better to ignore him altogether, or stop the car and walk away for a few minutes. Eventually he will learn to sit quietly. Good behaviour should be reinforced, so praise him whenever he is quiet. This training takes time and patience, and requires many short journeys in the car. An assistant will be required since you should not be concentrating on your dog whilst you are driving.
If you have a puppy, you can avoid many of the discipline-associated problems from developing by getting your puppy used to travelling from an early age. Take your puppy on short journeys from about 6-7 weeks of age, as they are particularly sensitive to new experiences at this time. Make sure that your puppy’s first journey is fun (i.e. not a trip to the vets for an injection!) Play with him in the car and give him treats before going anywhere so that he associates the car with fun. Gradually progress to sitting in a stationary car with the doors closed, and then to going for very short journeys.
What should I do about food and drink? What if my dog gets travel sick?
Travel sickness, as with people, is more common in young animals, particularly puppies. They tend to grow out of it with age. You should not feed your dog, whatever its age, for 6-8 hours (or give water 1-2 hours) before your journey. There should be plenty of ventilation both for keeping cool and to prevent nausea. You should stop frequently for your dog to urinate and defecate. You should not give food or drink during a journey unless the journey is excessively long (more than 12 hours); however if it is a particularly hot day then you will need to offer water. Small drinks are acceptable if your dog is not prone to sickness. Always carry fresh water in the car even during short journeys, in case you are delayed.
Should I sedate my dog before travelling?
You should not sedate your dog unless you experience severe problems when travelling. Sedatives can be obtained from the veterinary surgeon, but only if you really need them: for example, if your dog gets excessively anxious about travelling, particularly if he has previously been involved in a terrifying car accident. By training your dog in the car in the months preceding your journey, you should be able to eliminate the need for sedation.
What should I do if I want to take my dog abroad?
Taking a dog to an EU country and bringing it back the UK is a great deal easier now compared to in the past, because of the advent of the PET Travel Scheme which enables dogs to return here without the need for quarantine. The conditions of the scheme are that the animal must:
- be fitted with a permanent microchip
- be vaccinated against rabies
- have a blood test at least six months before entering the UK (i.e. before you go away) to show that he has adequate rabies antibodies in his blood (i.e. to show that he has responded to his rabies vaccine)
- be treated for ticks 1-2 days before entering the UK
- have an official veterinary health and treatment certificate
Quarantine regulations apply to animals entering the UK from non-EU countries, and to dogs that fail to meet the above requirements.
Moving house with your dog
Moving house is a stressful time both for people and dogs. When you reach your new home, establish an area where your dog will sleep and place his bed and toys there so that he has a place that he can consider his own. If there are any rooms that your dog will not be allowed to enter, be sure to make his boundaries clear to him from the beginning as this will avoid any confusion or disobedience later. Avoid altering his feeding times and general routine.
Preventative care helps in terms of a higher quality of life for your pet and significant financial savings, long term, for you. Many Veterinary Practices offer free healthcare clinics and advice to support your best friend, from cradle to grave. Please contact our practice for details.
A full comprehensive clinical examination normally carried out by the Veterinary Surgeon and included as part of the cost in your dog’s annual vaccination. Our Vet will also perform an examination, when you take your dog for a consultation on any other issue or concern with their health.
Our Vet will use this examination to look for signs of ill health such as infections, the presence of parasites or identify the nature of any lumps or bumps. They will also take the opportunity to identify potential problems, which may need treatment or further investigations now to prevent them from developing into something more serious or life threatening for your animal. The ideal result of this examination is when the Vet can give your Pet a clean bill of health and advise you on the appropriate care to maintain their healthy status.
This time is also an ideal opportunity for you to ask our Vet or Veterinary nurse questions relating to your dogs health or lifestyle, such as, nutrition, worming, flea control training and weight control.
If your dog is over 7 years of age, you may want to consider taking them for a health check more frequently than once a year, at vaccination time.
Likewise, it is always worthwhile to take in a fresh specimen of urine, in a clean container, for the vet to check.
Tips are also needed on hoe to care for your dog when you discover your bitch is pregnant. There is a lot of excitement tinged with concerns about how she should be cared for during and after the whelping (giving birth).
A bitch is normally pregnant (gestation period) for about 63 days from the day of mating, however it may vary from 56 days or as long as 70days. Quite often breed variations will have an influence on the length of gestation (Speak to our Veterinary Surgeon, who will advise you)
Pregnancy can be detected by expect and careful palpation of the abdomen from about four to five weeks after mating. We offer ultrasonic examination from four weeks on wards for £. (Ask the Veterinary Surgeon for advice)
Your bitch may not show any signs of pregnancy in the first month after mating; although she may appear less energetic. In lean breeds, it may be noticeable to see abdominal enlargement from about five weeks onwards, especially those who are pregnant for the first time and those with large litters.
Care of the bitch
Tender loving care is required as normal, it is important to maintain her normal daily exercise regime throughout the pregnancy, although do not allow strenuous exercise such as jumping in the last two to three weeks.
It is advisable to worm your bitch a month before her due date; this will help to reduce the risk of passing on worms to her puppies. – (Speak to our Veterinary Surgeon who will advise you on the most appropriate treatment for your bitch)
A change of diet during pregnancy and lactation (Producing milk for her puppies) should need to be observed, to support the bitches increased requirements for energy, protein, calcium and phosphorus to support the growing puppies inside her and replace the nourishment she requires to feed her puppies. A bitch’s energy requirement goes up from two to four times as much during pregnancy and lactation. The bitch is unable to consume two to four times as much food, so a very energy dense food is requires, There are premium brands available, which provide more energy in a smaller amount of food, do that the bitch does not need to eat huge quantities. (Our Veterinary Surgeon will advise you)
Preparation for labour/ whelping. (Giving birth)
About two weeks before your bitch is due to whelp, it may be advisable to separate her from the other animals in the household (unless this will be too distressing for her) and provide her with an area, which she will have peace quite and warm, she may even choose the area herself! A whelping box should be provided where it can be screened off if necessary and the ideal temperature in the room should be about 80° F (27°C) The sides of the box should be high enough to cut out draughts (10-15cm) with one side cut down to about 7.5cm to enable the bitch and yourself to get in and out easily. Sometimes a rail or shelf is provided on the inside of the whelping box around one or more of the sides, usually protruding about 7cm away from the side, to prevent the bitch from lying up against her puppies on the first two or three days. Provide the bitch with plenty of bedding, newspaper is ideal, so that the bitch can tear it up and it can be easily replaced when soiled.
At least ten days before the bitch is due, it may be a good idea to visit our Vet for a health check and who will advise you on the impending birth.
For normal whelping care, we recommend the following guides:
The book of the bitch, J.M Evans and Kay White
Publisher: Howell book house, USA, Ringpress books UK.
Available from the vet2pet shop and all good book stores.
The technique of breeding better dogs, Dr. Dieter Flieg
Publisher: Howell book house, USA, Ringpress books UK.
Available from all good book stores
Labour – difficulty
The actual birth usually takes place without any major problems but sometimes bitches can have difficulty giving birth. There are several possible reasons for this.
The first possibility is that of size. The pup or pups can be simply too large to pass through the birth canal of the bitch. The limiting factor on the bitch’s part is the bony pelvis. The chance of large pups is bigger if it involves a small litter. Bitches of the larger breeds have larger litters as a rule. Younger bitches have smaller litters than older ones.
The second possibility is that the bitch is not strong enough to expel the puppies. This is possible as a consequence of a condition called eclampsia. This is when the bitch has a low level of calcium in the blood, giving rise to weakness of the muscles. This can be caused by incorrect feeding or supplementation during pregnancy. See eclampsia below.
The third possibility is that of pups being in the wrong position to be expelled normally by the bitch. Sometimes a pup can be blocking the birth canal if it is not positioned normally. Also, it is possible for 2 pups, from the two separate uterine horns, being expelled at the same time. This will again lead to a blockage.
The different reasons for difficulty during labour require very different approaches by the vet and therefore it is important to seek veterinary advice when this happens. It has to be said that bitches can sometimes have pauses between pups of as much as 45 minutes, and even go to sleep during these breaks. If a bitch is obviously trying to pass a pup for more than 15 minutes and nothing is happening, ring the vet!
Veterinary care should also be sought if at any stage a foul smelling discharge is produced before, during and after the birth.
The bitch can be offered a drink and food before she rests. Most newborn puppies will suck straight away, or within half an hour. It is important for the puppies to suck the colostrums during the first one or two days of life to provide the maternal antibodies from the mother. As with human babies, during the fist week the puppies will suck around every two hours gradually increasing to every four hours. The bitch will normally lick and care for her puppies and it is important to keep the temperature of the surroundings at least 70°F. (21°C)
Normal exercise can be resumed as and when your bitch shows a desire and feeding of an appropriate energy dense diet is advisable until the puppies are fully weaned.
Again, it is advisable to obtain a health check from our Veterinary Surgeon following the birth and or the following problems are observed.
Signs to watch for:
Mastitis – this is where there is inflammation and infection of the mammary glands, the mammary glands usually feel hot, hard and are painful for the bitch on touching or when the pups suckle, sometimes they can form an abscess. Consult the Vet immediately, if you notice any changes in the mammary glands.
Eclampsia – Also known as milk fever, puerperal tetany is where the bitches calcium level in her blood drops to a dangerously low level, she may show signs of restlessness/whining, loss of appetite, she may then begin to walk stiffly and stagger, eventually she may develop a high temperature, muscle spasms and convulsions. Prompt veterinary treatment is required to reverse these signs.
The appropriate diet such as the one described above, can play an important part in preventing the onset of this disease.
- If a foul smelling discharge or bleeding is noticed before, during and after the birth.
- There was any kind of problem during the delivery.
- The puppies appear cold, listless, cries continuously or will not suckle from their mother.
- The bitch will not eat or drink within 24 hours of giving birth.
The death of all pets in any circumstances is a tragic loss and the subsequent grieving which we can feel is very real and painful. Euthanasia, which is unique to animals brings with it, not only the choices to bring about the ease of your pets suffering, but sometimes a whole raft of different feelings and emotions, which many of us find difficulty in comprehending.
We are also often unaware of the choices that we have, when it comes to burying or cremating our pet. Many Veterinary practices offer a range of support, information and services when it comes to caring for you and your pet at the end of their life. If you do not feel able to talk at length with the Vet, ask to speak to one of the Veterinary nurses in the practice who will be only too pleased to help and support you before, during and after your pets death.
There is also an excellent charitable organisation called The Pet Bereavement Support Service, which was launched in 1994. It has so far helped over 4000 pet owners of all ages and all walks of life. Losing a pet of any kind can be very painful and each telephone call is treated with sensitivity and compassion. The telephone befrienders receive calls in their own homes. They are volunteers of all ages and backgrounds and have completed a six month supervised correspondences training programme. They offer a “listening ear” and give time, patience and encouragement to bereaved pet owners, as they work through their loss.
Telephone 0800 096 6606
Sometimes it helps to share our feelings with someone who knows from personnel experience how distressing the loss of a pet can be, whether it is a hamster or a Great Dane. Telephone daily from 8.30am – 5.30pm (with an answer phone outside these hours) to speak to someone who will listen with compassion and without judgement.
Death of an animal friend
This booklet is helpful for anyone faced with the loss of his or her pet.
Produced by the society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS)
Price £2.50. Available from:
SCAS, 10b Leny Rd, Callender, FK17 8BA
By Laura and Martyn Lee
This is an instructive book looking at how to cope when the relationship with the pet is broken
Published by Henston,
Price £4.50. Available through the Veterinary Surgeon, Vet2pet superstore at www.vet2pet.co.uk or from all good bookshops.
Goodbye, Dear Friend
By Virginia Ironside
Published by Robson
Price £6.99. Available from all good bookshops.
What should I do if I need to put my dog into a kennel? Firstly, plan your dog’s stay well in advance. Kennels become booked up very early, particularly if you need to use them during the peak holiday season. If you want your dog to stay in a good establishment, then booking early is important. Call as many kennels as possible so that you have a wide choice. If you know any dog owners, ask them if they know of any good places for your dog to stay. You could also ask the vet, dog trainer or breeder for any recommendations.
Although all UK premises are governed by the Animal Boarding Establishments Act of 1963, this act is quite vague in its requirements, so that premises vary considerably in standard.
What should I ask the owner of the kennel?
- How much will it will cost to keep your dog there?
- How much exercise will the dogs get each day? Are they exercised in a run or lead-walked, and if so how far are they taken? It is usually considered safer for animals to be exercised in a run as lead-walking increases the risk of your dog being lost.
- What are the animals fed and can you bring your own dog-food? It is best that dogs’ diets are not changed since this coupled with the stress of being somewhere new could cause a digestive upset.
- How big are the kennels? Will your dog have access to an outdoor run?
- What does the kennel want to know from you: do they insist on all dogs being vaccinated? Will they want to see your vaccination certificate? Remember that if they are not strict about this then there is risk of transmission of diseases between animals. Do they insist that dogs are vaccinated against kennel cough? What is their policy if a dog is brought there coughing?
- You will need to know whether or not your dog will have physical contact with other animals. Whilst it is a good idea for dogs that live together to be kenneled together, from a veterinary viewpoint it is a very bad idea to kennel animals from separate households together, since one animal may harbour diseases that can be passed to another.
- What would the kennel do if your dog became ill during its stay? Are they covered by an insurance policy? How often do they have a really good look at the animals? Would they notice if your dog was unwell?
- If your dog is on any medication then you will need to ask whether or not the staff will be happy to administer this. It is unreasonable to expect them to treat an animal without prior warning.
- Even the best of places can lose an animal. Although this is something that does not often happen, you should ask what they would do if this occurred. Do they have a sensible set of steps that they would follow to try to recover the animal, or do they seem rather disorganised and unsure of what they would do?
If I visit the kennel before sending my dog there, what should I look for?
The dogs’ living area should be airy and spacious, although the sleeping quarters need not be large since many animals prefer a smaller cosy area to sleep in. Is it warm enough? What sort of heating do they use? The premises should be clean and regularly disinfected. What sort of bedding is being used? Does it look clean? Look at the food preparation area: are there facilities for sterilising the food-bowls? How much attention do the animals receive? Many animals are inappetent when left at kennels: a bit of extra attention can help a lot with this.
What should I do when I have decided on a kennel?
Book your dog in quickly! You will probably be expected to pay a non-returnable deposit, so you must be absolutely sure that this is the kennel for your dog. When you take your dog there, bring its own blanket or cushion as this will smell of your home and provide comfort to your dog. Also if he or she has any toys then bring them too. Be sure to give the establishment a contact telephone number, or if this is not possible, the number of a relative or friend who will take responsibility for your dog should anything happen to it. Also, you should give them the name, address and telephone number of the veterinary surgeon. Remember to take your vaccination certificate, as they should demand to see it before admitting your dog.
What else do I need to know?
Before sending your dog to a kennel it is likely that responsible kennel owners will want to see your dog’s Vaccination Book. therefore it is wise to have all of your dog’s vaccinations up to date, including a vaccination against Kennel Cough (any Kennel Cough vaccination is only effective for 6 months. If your dog has not had one within the last 6 months they will need another one to ensure the maximum protection against contracting the disease).
Congratulations on the arrival of your new puppy!
Welcoming him home
Bringing home a new puppy is always an exciting event – after all you are welcoming a new member of the family.
At first he will feel a little strange in the new surroundings. You can help him feel at home by making sure that there is a warm place for him to rest and sleep. The bedding should be waterproof and easy to clean. The ideal bed for your new puppy is a purpose built puppy crate, which he will adopt as his ‘den’. We will be glad to give you some advice on nutrition and how important it is to establish good feeding habits, training, vaccination, worming and other measures of preventative healthcare. (Please see the other sections on the website for further information in these areas.)
Grooming, training and a routine of regular exercise are all essential for the early health and happiness of your pet. So too is a visit to the Veterinary Practice. It is important to make an early appointment. Your puppy will then become familiar with the practice and the support staff and must receive his first vaccination, as he is susceptible to several contagious diseases. The Veterinary Surgeon will advise on the interval for “booster vaccination”.
Do ask the Vet, but regular grooming is essential, two or three times a week for short haired dogs, once a day for those with long or thick coats. It not only removes dirt and dead hair but also helps prevent skin irritation – one of the more common problems during puppy hood. Another bonus to grooming your new puppy is your puppy can hardly distinguish between grooming and stroking, so you will naturally be forming a strong bond together.
Just as with skin irritation, intestinal parasites are one of the commonest problems of puppy hood. The Veterinary Practice will advice on worming and a control programme – click on ‘worming’ above to obtain more in depth information. Modern de-worming medicines from the Veterinary Surgeon are effective and gentle.
You can start housetraining your puppy straight away. Exercise him frequently in the area you want him to “go”. At first it will be coincidence. But if you consistently take him out as soon as he wakes, immediately after meals and just before going to bed, the coincidence will become habit. House training usually does not happen overnight but lavish praise for correct performance will bring the quickest results. You should find your puppy becoming house-trained within a few weeks. Incidentally, if he does go in the wrong place, do not scold him (and never rub his nose in it), as this is a very ineffective method of training. Praising the puppy when he has got it right is quite sufficient and effective training.
Your growing puppy loves to play and exercise. The extra attention he gets when being out with you will help to form a strong bond between you. You should put your puppy on a lead and harness if you are walking near a road, near farm animals or other sources of danger. Your puppy should also start to wear an identification tag with your name and telephone on it as soon as you bring him home. It may also an idea to consider microchipping, as an effective and permanent form of identification at your puppy’s first vaccination. Click here to find out more about microchipping.
A sound and properly balanced diet will give him all of the protein, calcium and nutrients necessary to fuel his playful exercise. Moderate exercise and a good feeding program will combine to help muscle development, prevent obesity and maintain vitality. The Veterinary Practice will advise you on the most appropriate diet for your growing puppy.
Dogs are omnivorous and can eat many types of food that has been balanced to meet specific nutritional requirements.
Rapid growth and development of bones, muscles and internal organs means that the diet is especially important during puppy hood. A puppy’s nutritional needs are different from those of an adult dog because puppies need relatively more energy, calcium and phosphorus than a grown animal. They are after all building a skeleton. However Nutritionalist’s such as experts at Royal Canin, believe that excess levels of nutrients can be harmful over time. Large breed puppies for instance grow very fast in the first few months of life as can be seen in the chart below.
If these breeds are fed on a food that contains too much energy, they grow so fast that skeletal problems may arise. Excess calcium may also initiate or complicate several skeletal diseases and bone deformities, especially in puppies hat will grow into large adults. Sodium, calcium and energy are essential to good health, but excess levels are unnecessary. The right balance of nutrients is crucial as not overfeeding your new puppy. A good start is so important in helping your dog lead a long and healthy life.
Aging is not a diseases it is a natural normal life process. It is however, accompanied by wear and tear on the body. Today with the advances in Veterinary medicine, improvements in nutrition, vaccination and our own understanding of excellence in pet ownership and medical care, our dogs are living longer.
When is my dog considered to be elderly?
Life expectancy in dogs ranges from breed to breed and surprisingly; we should start to manage the aging process in our dogs earlier than we once thought. As described above, wear and tear and the bodies deceasing ability to repair itself, accompany ageing. (See the table below to help you understand how old your dog is compared to human years.) However it is not all bad news, because we now understand when the ageing process starts to affect our dog’s health, we can start to minimize the progressive deterioration and maintain or improve our dog’s quality of life.
As a general rule an elderly preventative medicine regime could begin at the following stages:
Small dogs (weighing less than 20lb) – 7 years
Medium Dogs (weighing 21 to 50lb) – 7 years
Large dogs (weighing 51 to 90 lb) – 6 years
Giant dog (weighing more than 90lbs) – 5 years
What can I do to help my ageing dog?
Fortunately, we can assist our dog through his golden years in many ways, and it is much easier to care for the older dog than the older human. Below is a list of tips you may wish to follow for your older dog:
- Respect by all members of the family including other pets and children, do not allow them to bother your older dog, his patience may be wearing thin and he could become less tolerant as he gets older.
- If your dogs sight and hearing is deteriorating, do stick to his normal routine, do not move furniture around and keep his walks to a regular time and distance each day.
- Regular exercise is important to maintain bone strength and muscle tone, however your dog may have a locomotive problem such as arthritis, degenerative joint disease or just have difficulty in standing up, if this is the case you may have to adjust his exercise routine. speak to the vet, who will advise you.
- Be understanding of them if they do fail to respond to you, hear you, or have little accidents.
- Keep their bedding comfortable or warm, if they are used to being kennelled outside on hard concrete surfaces, consider bringing them indoors on softer bedding, they are more prone to developing sores, or hard callous on their joints such as elbows or hocks, these can become extremely painful or ulcerated.
- Keep them clean and groomed more regularly, as they may have difficulties in grooming themselves. It is also an ideal time to notice any changes or abnormalities.
- Keep their nails; trimmed short, you may have to have them clipped more regularly.
Preventative health care programmes
You have the opportunity to work with the Veterinary Surgeon, to establish a preventative health care programme for your dog, properly applied, a preventative health care program can lessen existing problems of aging, slow or prevent disease processes and add high-quality years to your dogs life.
Preventative Health care measures
Measures we can take ourselves to support our dogs in their older years are:
- Take him or her for a regular check up at the Veterinary Practice, at least twice a year.
- Keep their vaccinations up to date, their immune response starts to decline in later years, so up keep of vaccinations are just as important as early on in their lives.
- Regular teeth cleaning, scaling and polishing, to help prevent against bad breath and dental disease.
It is also useful to use the following checklist to monitor any changes in your dog’s health status. Take this along to the Veterinary Surgeon with a urine sample when you attend any appointment, to assist them in the programme.
Nutrition for the older dog
Nutrition plays a vital part of the process of preventative health and commercially produced foods contain more than the adequate levels of all of the essential nutrients needed by normal dogs. In fact dogs, fed commercial foods are consuming anywhere between three to five times their daily protein requirement, three times the daily calcium requirement and phosphorus requirement and ten times the daily requirement of salt. The older dog, on the other hand would benefit from a diet with reduced levels of protein, calcium, phosphorus and sodium. This kind of diet may be helpful in the onset of clinical diseases common in older pets. Also keep a close eye on your dogs weight, as dogs grow older they are more prone to weight gain due to a reduction in exercise and their ability to metabolise energy is reduced. Speak to the Vet who will advise you on the correct food for your dog at their stage of life.