Dog Care at Home
Your dog should have regular checkups to make sure all is well for pet care and pet health. Get your puppy used to being handled; she should accept stroking, grooming and a thorough once-over as part of the daily routine. Once every week or so, take a good look at your puppy's eyes, ears, mouth, paws and nails. It pays off should you find a problem early, before it becomes serious. If you notice anything unusual, be sure to consult your local veterinarian.
Check your puppy's eyes for redness or inflammation, a half-closed lid, excessive watering, a yellow-green discharge or discoloration.
A pup with an infected eye will rub it, so if you notice a lot of rubbing going on, have a closer look. You can prevent problems by keeping your puppy's eyes clean. Wipe around each eye gently with a clean cotton ball soaked in warm water.
Check ears for discharge, excessive wax build-up or an unpleasant odour.
Your pup will scratch at her ears or shake her head violently if they are bothering her. Take a look: healthy ears are pale pink, clean looking and odour free. If your puppy's ears are not, please consult with your local vet. Help keep your puppy's ears healthy by gently cleaning easy-to-reach external areas. You can use a cotton ball moistened with warm water or commercially prepared ear-cleaning solutions that are available at your local clinic. Do not probe into the ear.
Frequent cleaning is especially important with floppy-eared dogs, which are prone to ear infections. Even if your puppy's ears seem very healthy, you should handle them frequently. That way your puppy will be used to it and if there ever is a problem, she won't mind letting the veterinarian take a good look.
TEETH AND GUMS Since puppies explore their environment by putting everything in their mouths, you should check the mouth frequently. At 4 to 6 months, your pet will lose his baby teeth and adult ones will come in. Examine the mouth for any soreness, discoloration, broken or loose teeth and inflamed or receding gum.
Pets, like people, need regular dental care. Dental disease is one of the most common health problems in pets, yet it can be easily prevented. You should begin brushing your puppy's teeth two or three times a week when your puppy is very young. Special animal toothpaste, toothbrushes and oral rinses are available in the store (see Dental & Breath Care. Regular preventive care at home can help save you money and keep your pet healthy.
All pets require regular cleaning with an ultrasonic scaler done by your veterinarian. Untreated dental disease can cause bad breath, bleeding gums, loose or rotting teeth and tooth loss. If periodontal disease progresses far enough, it can even cause heart, liver or kidney disease.
You'll know something is wrong with one of your pup's paws if he licks constantly or favours it when he walks. Examine the paw gently for cysts, and make sure nothing is sticking between the pads or in the fur around them. If you can't find an obvious wound, it is probably best to bring your puppy into your local hospital where they can do a thorough examination.
Keep your pup's paws clean. Remove grass seeds, thorns, burrs or any foreign object you find sticking to the paws. If something has to be cut out from the fur between or around the paws, use blunt tipped scissors and be very careful not to cut into the web between the pads.
Puppies have very sharp toe nails. They can be trimmed with your regular finger nail clippers or with nail trimmers made for dogs and cats. If you take too much off the nail, you will get into the quick; bleeding and pain will occur. If this happens, neither you nor your dog will want to do this again. Therefore, a few points are helpful:
1. If your dog has clear or white nails, you can see the pink of the quick through the nail. Avoid the pink area, and you should be out of the quick.
2. If your dog has black nails, you will not be able to see the quick so only cut 1/32" (1 mm) of the nail at a time until the dog begins to get sensitive. The sensitivity will usually occur before you are into the blood vessel. With black nails, it is likely that you will get too close on at least one nail.
3. If your dog has some clear and some black nails, use the average clear nail as a guide for cutting the black ones.
4. When cutting nails, use sharp trimmers. Dull trimmers tend to crush the nail and cause pain even if you are not in the quick.
5. You should always have styptic powder available. This is sold in pet stores under several trade names, but it will be labeled for use in trimming nails.
Clip your pup's nails frequently. If you can hear them clicking on the floor when he walks, it is time for a trim. If you let your pup's nails get too long, they will break and cause soreness.
Dog nail clippers are better than scissors for trimming. Hold the paw firmly and clip a little at a time.
Be careful not to cut into the "quick", the sensitive flesh underneath the back of the nail. Should you accidentally cut too far and bleeding occurs, use baby powder or flour to help stop the bleeding (it takes quite a while!). There are products on the market designed to help stop nick bleeding - see Bio Groom Sure Clot Styptic Powder or Tomlyn Nik Stop Styptic Powder.
Don't try and trim all the nails at one sitting. Pick a time when your puppy is tired and quiet, and trim a couple of nails only. Be sure to reward your puppy if it accepts its nails being trimmed quietly.
If you have never trimmed a puppy's nails, have your local vet show you how. If you would rather leave the nail trimming to the groomer or the veterinarian, it is still important to handle your pup's feet often. If the puppy has never had his feet handled before, then he may make a big fuss and find nail trimming very annoying.