A dog is a wonderful companion and a strong bond will be established, if your dog’s health and wellbeing are prioritized. Your dog’s essential needs include:

  • Food – high-quality, high protein, balanced dog food
  • Water – access to fresh, clean water at all times is crucial
  • Sleeping conditions – a cozy, comfortable sleeping place will induce good sleeping habits
  • Exercise and socialization – your dog’s exercise needs are dependent on age, size, personality, breed and health conditions. Developing an exercise routine that is enjoyable and stimulating will strengthen the bond between you and your dog. Toys and dog treats are a way to reward positive behavior.
  • Grooming – this includes brushing, dental hygiene, ear cleaning, nail trimming and bathing
  • Visits to the veterinarian – some dog owners might wonder when their pets need a visit to the veterinarian. After all, many of them only go when it’s an emergency – but that’s not enough. In fact, once a year, your dog(s) should see a veterinarian for a full checkup and all the necessary shots and vaccinations for his or her age and your geographical environment. If your dog is sick, injured or behaving strangely (uncharacteristically lethargic, struggling to breathe, not eating or drinking water, whining, scratching consistently, etc.) then make an appointment with your veterinarian immediately.


It is important to frequently inspect your dog for ticks and fleas, especially from early spring. If you notice a problem, there are various reliable tick and flea control products for dogs. Many of the same products on the market that treat fleas also kill ticks and prevent against future infestation. Speak to your veterinarian about the best product for your dog.

Puppy schools, doggy daycares and kennels often require dogs to be on a tick and flea control product before entry is allowed.


Canine vaccinations help protect your dog from common, contagious illnesses and diseases. As a pet owner, it’s your responsibility to make sure you give your pets all the protection they need. Be sure to get a vaccination card from your veterinarian, dog breeder or animal shelter and keep it updated.

Core vaccines are considered vital to all pets based on risk of exposure, severity of disease or transmissibility to humans.

Core canine vaccines are for the following diseases:

  • Canine Parvovirus – a viral disease affecting the intestines transmitted through sniffing or eating infected feces or direct contact with an infected dog
  • Distemper – an airborne viral disease affecting the lungs, brain and intestines transmitted through sneezing or coughing by an infected dog or wild animal. The virus can also betransmitted by shared food and water bowls and equipment.
  • Canine Hepatitis – a viral liver disease istransmitted through the blood, nasal discharge, saliva, urine, or feces of infected dogs
  • Rabies – a fatal viral disease transmittedthrough direct contact (such as through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth) with saliva from an infected animal. People usually get rabies from the bite of a rabid

The rabies vaccine is a single dose given when the puppy is at least 12 weeks old. Rabies vaccinations are required by law in most parts of the United States. Booster vaccines generally are given to adult dogs every 1-3 years, depending on vaccine type and the dog’s risk factors.

Non-core vaccines are given depending on the dog’s exposure risk. Your veterinarian will consider the animal’s age, environment, lifestyle and overall health. Non-core vaccines include those for the following diseases:

  • Bordetella (also referred to as kennel cough) is caused by the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica. It causes bacterial infection of the upper respiratory system.
  • Borreliosis (also known asLyme disease) is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to dogs and humans by the bite of infected ticks.
  • Leptospirosisis an infectious disease that causes serious illness in dogs, other animals, and people. The disease is caused by bacteria called leptospires that live in water or warm, wet soil.

Veterinarians recommend that puppies start receiving core and any necessary non-core vaccinations when they are 6-8 weeks of age. Booster shots usually are given at 3- to 4-week intervals until pups are 16-20 weeks old.


Dogs should not eat or have access to any of the following:

xylitol | avocado | alcohol | leaves, stems and roots from tomato & potato plants | onions & garlic | coffee, tea & other caffeine | grapes & raisins | milk & other dairy products | macadamia nuts, almonds, walnuts, peanuts & pecans | chocolate | fat trimmings & bones (raw or cooked) | persimmons, peaches & plums | raw eggs | only raw meat & fish | salt & salty snacks | sugary foods & drinks | yeast dough & hops | human medicine | baking ingredients & spices | excessive coconut milk/oil/flesh | apple seeds & cores | chamomile | cherry stems, leaves & pits | mustard seeds | rhubarb | citrus fruits | licorice | marijuana in any form

Only give your dog medicine that has been prescribed by a qualified, certified veterinarian and keep rodent, insect and other poisons in a safe place, always out of reach. If, for any reason, you think your dog might have ingested any poisonous substance, call your veterinarian immediately.


Be sure to deworm puppies as often as necessary and adult dogs yearly. Many humans, whether pet owners or not, make use of deworming medication as a precaution.

Dogs can be exposed to worms, even in urban areas. Roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms are not uncommon in puppies (or even older dogs), but diagnosis is key and fast treatment is very important. Make sure you use the right medicine (for the right worm), prescribed by a veterinarian, to get rid of these intestinal parasites.

All dogs should be tested annually for heartworm infection, and this can usually be done during a routine visit for preventive care.


This can be a sensitive subject, but it’s increasingly recommended that non-breeding females should be spayed (removal of ovaries and uterus) before reaching maturity (6 months) to reduce the risk of breast cancer and/or an infected uterus. Non-breeding males benefit from being neutered (removal of testicles) before maturity to help prevent testicular and prostate diseases, certain hernias and some types of aggression.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) supports the concept of pediatric spay/neuter in dogs. After discussing associated risks and benefits, the decision should be made by you as the owner and the veterinarian.

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