Here’s a list of dog care to-do’s that can be easily missed and why they’re important for your pup.
You probably already know how to take care of a dog. Take them to the vet once a year for their annual visit and vaccines, check. Take them on walks and scoop their poop, check. Give them food, water, playtime, and lots of love–all checked off.
Even though you’re doing an amazing job with all these dog care basics, there might be a few things that a lot of dog parents have overlooked or didn’t even know about. Here’s a list of dog care to-do’s and why they’re important for your pup.
1. Brush those teeth.
This is one that most pet parents know about, but maybe they forget to do it or don’t make it into a regular habit. Brushing your dog’s teeth is just as important as brushing your own. They can’t do it for themselves, so you have to be the one to start.
It doesn’t have to be an all-at-once or all-or-nothing thing, either. Start slow so you and your pup can both get used to this new grooming habit. Take it in steps:
- Pick out a dog toothbrush and a toothpaste formulated for dogs. It comes in all kinds of flavors, like beef, chicken, and peanut butter, so choose something your dog will love.
- Pick a night to start, and put a little toothpaste on the brush. Just let your dog lick it off, and if that goes well, you can even try to move the toothbrush around a little on a few of their teeth.
- Next time, try to brush as many teeth as you can while they’re licking the toothpaste. Keep at it until you can brush all of their teeth in one session. Then try to do this several times a week, working your way up to daily if you can.
Even a little bit of brushing is better than nothing. There are plenty of other things you can try, too, like dental water additives and dental treats, to help keep your dog’s mouth clean and fresh.
2. Trim their nails.
It may not seem like a big thing, but keeping a dog’s nails at the proper length is super important for their comfort and health. And it’s also a dog care task that you can easily forget about.
The first thing you want to do is to make sure to check your dog’s nails every week by setting an alarm or notification in your phone. You’re looking for things like overgrown nails, cracked or ripped nails, or anything stuck in your dog’s paw pads or fur. If the nails are growing into the paw pads, or you see a torn nail or something you can’t remove from their paw, go to your vet for help.
You also need to get on a schedule for trimming your dog’s nails. If your dog walks on pavement a lot, they might wear their nails down more quickly than if they don’t. Generally, a dog’s nails should be trimmed every 2-4 weeks. The way to tell if they’re too long is if they touch the floor. If you’re hearing a clicking when your dog walks on hard floors, their nails are too long.
Of course, they shouldn’t be too short, either. You don’t want to cut or trim past the quick, which is the part of the nail that has blood vessels and nerve endings. If your dog’s nails are white, you can see the pink quick area. But if they are black, you won’t be able to.
The first time, have your vet give you a short lesson on how to trim the nail and how much you should cut. Also ask for recommendations on clippers that are the right size for your dog’s nails. Another option is to use a nail grinder. When you try to trim them on your own for the first time, go slow and keep some styptic powder on hand in case you clip too much.
3. Help dogs express themselves.
“Express yourself” takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to dogs. For the most part, when everything’s working properly, dogs are able to “express” their own anal glands. What does this mean??
There are two tiny holes on either side of your dog’s anus. Every time they poop, a little bit of fluid comes out of these holes from their anal glands to help things along. Sometimes these glands get backed up, and that’s when you’ll see a dog scooting their butt along the ground or your floors and rugs.
If you see this, book an appointment to have your dog’s anal glands expressed. Your pup may be a breed that has issues expressing themselves naturally, so it might need to be a regular grooming task. You can also help by giving your dog supplements for anal gland health.
4. Microchip your pup.
Microchipping your dog is so important. Sometimes a shelter will microchip a dog before they are adopted out, but not always. If they do, the first thing you should do is to go online to the site of the microchip manufacturer, create an account, and put in your contact info for your dog’s microchip. If you’re unsure, have any vet or shelter scan your dog for a microchip and help you identify the company.
If you know your dog’s not microchipped, do it as soon as possible. You never know what situation could happen where your dog might become lost. Microchipping is not expensive, and it is a very quick procedure. Ask your vet to do it, or make an appointment at a microchipping clinic.
5. Measure your dog’s food.
This dog care task seems so simple, but many dog parents don’t do it. There’s a catch, though, because there’s more to it than just looking at the back of the bag or can and measuring out the food.
The daily feeding recommendations that you see on a package of dog food are very general guidelines, so they are not adjusted for your dog’s age, breed, ideal weight, current body condition, level of activity, and so on. All of this goes into determining how much your dog should eat at every meal. Make an appointment with your vet or use our feeding calculator.
6. Rotate their toys.
Now that we’ve covered the not-so-fun topics, it’s time to talk playtime. Keeping your pup mentally engaged is part of keeping them healthy overall.
When was the last time you took inventory of your dog’s toy collection? Go through the toy bin and donate some of the toys your dog isn’t really into. Then pick out some new toys that you know your dog will love.
The trick now is not to give them all to your dog at once to play with. Only keep out a few toys at a time, and after a week, put those up and bring out a couple new toys. Make sure you have different types of toys out at all times.
7. Take walks for fun, not just pooping.
Yes, walks serve the purpose of letting your dog go potty and spending quality time. But there’s another important perk that your dog gets–smelling the world!
For your dog, everything is telling a story through interesting scents. They can tell so many things about who has been there before and what they were doing, and even how they were feeling just by smelling the scents left behind. Dogs also leave communications for other dogs through their pee and pheromones.
So here’s your dog care tip: Take advantage of your dog’s amazing sense of smell by taking them on walks where they are allowed to sniff and follow every smell they want to. You’re guaranteed to have one happy, excited pup.