Owning a dog is a big responsibility and giving your dog the best care and attention can help to improve the quality and length of your dog’s life. Feeding your dog a well balanced diet is clearly necessary to keep him fit and healthy, but other activities such as exercise, training, grooming and regular visits to the veterinarian are equally as important.

Regular grooming is essential in order to keep your dog looking and feeling his best, but it is also a good opportunity to check the condition of your dog’s coat and skin, as well as looking for any abnormalities such as swellings, wounds or evidence of parasites. If you notice anything which is out of the ordinary, contact your veterinarian for further advice.

When grooming your dog, you should also check that your dog’s eyes and ears are clean, clear and free from excessive discharge. If the eyes are not clean, they can be gently cleaned with moist cotton wool; use a different swab for each eye. If the eyes are red or there is a lot of discharge, seek veterinary advice. The ears, if soiled, can be wiped with a small pad of dry cotton wool, but don’t delve beyond the area you can see or poke anything solid inside, as the ear is very delicate and easily damaged. Dogs with long ears are more likely to suffer from ear complaints, so be extra vigilant with these breeds. A lot of dark wax or discharge in the ear could indicate the presence of ear mites or an infection, and you should ask your veterinarian for advice.

Also check your dog’s mouth regularly. His teeth should be clean and free from deposits, and the gums should be a healthy pink colour. As he ages, deposits may develop around the base of the teeth near the gums which can lead to bad breath, mouth pain, gum disease, and infections and could eventually cause the teeth to fall out. Your veterinarian can scale the teeth to remove the tartar, remove any loose teeth, and polish them to slow down recurrence, but this usually requires a general anaesthetic. Brushing your dog’s teeth regularly (daily) will help to prevent this, using either a special canine or a child’s tooth brush and toothpaste designed for use in dogs. Do not use human toothpaste in dogs, as it can cause gastrointestinal upsets and is usually quite unpalatable. It is best to start brushing your dog’s teeth from an early age, so that he becomes used to the routine. Specially designed dog biscuits, which help reduce the build-up of plaque and tartar are also available and can help to maintain your dog’s oral health and hygiene as part of your dog’s daily diet.

It is also important to keep an eye on your dog’s nails. Dogs who are regularly exercised on hard surfaces are less likely to need any attention as their nails wear down to about the correct length. If your dog is exercised mostly on grass, his nails may grow longer and may need trimming. Pay particular attention to the dew claws, if any are present, since they are not in contact with the ground and are not worn down. They tend to grow round in a circle and may pierce the pad, which can be painful and is likely to cause lameness. You can trim the nails yourself, but it is important that this is done correctly with suitable clippers. If you are not familiar with the procedure, ask your veterinarian or a professional dog groomer for help.

It is also important to control your dog’s body weight and keep him in optimum condition. Feel your dog’s body, particularly over the ribs to check that he is the correct weight; you should be able to feel the individual ribs under a cover of body tissue, and there should be a definite `waist’ behind his ribcage. Alternatively, your veterinarian may be able to do this for you during routine visits. Any deviation from this could mean that the diet should be modified, please ask you veterinarian for advice.

This information is referenced from the Waltham website which can be located at

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