6 Needs Every Dog Has

Sep 03, 2019     |      Sophie's Circle

A puppy on a leash outdoors in a park.Whether your dog is from a popular breed, rare breed, or one-of-a-kind breed, these are some basic caretaking tips all dogs are sure to appreciate. As a bonus, you may even be surprised to find your dog's routine is beneficial for you as well. From making your home feel cozy and safe to tips for building a trusting relationship with your canine companion, let's explore all you need to know about caring for your dog.

Making him Feel Right at Home
When you think of the word "home", you probably think of a place that is warm from the cold or cool shelter from the heat. Words like "safe" and "comfortable" may also come to mind. Did you know dogs have a strong instinct to seek shelter from the weather, safety from predators, and general comfort as well? You can make sure your home checks all the boxes for your dog. Start by putting toys and other choking hazards high off the ground or in drawers or bins. Food items should be secured in the pantry, fridge or otherwise out of reach from curious noses. Watch for signs of overheating such as heavy panting to see if the thermostat is set too high or signs of being too cold like shivering if the thermostat is set too low. With these few safety checks around the house as you would when you bring a toddler into your home, your dog should adjust to his new digs without skipping a beat. 

What Does he Eat and What Doesn't he Eat?
Standing in the food aisle or usually aisles plural of the local pet store can be overwhelming. That said, there is a reason pet food is such a big industry. Dogs have different nutritional needs than humans. So, while you can make specialized cuisine for your dog at home using proven recipes for your dog's size and age, feeding your dog a consistently balanced nutrition packed diet formulated specially for canines of his age and size is an important part of caring for your pet as is the timing of the feedings. You will find some good information on each brand of dog food online at websites such as The Dog Advisor. For feeding times and amounts, it is always good to consult with your vet after selecting a food brand or recipe you like.

As for treats and foods to avoid, there are some tasty ingredients humans enjoy that are toxic for dogs. This list includes anything with caffeine, mushrooms, onion, garlic, nuts, avocado, persimmons, grapes, raisins, leavening agents, nutmeg, tomatoes, potatoes, rhubarb, and alcohol. Also, your vet may have specific dog treats to recommend over those that are harder to digest. It may take a little added effort up front to research what you feed your dog, but the long term pay off is a healthier and more comfortable furry companion.  

When You Gotta Go, You Gotta Go
One of the biggest changes to your daily routine when you first get a new puppy or a dog that is not house broken is taking him outside to the designated potty area every couple of hours. Puppies cannot hold their bladders long, and frequent potty breaks are crucial to preventing leaks and accidents for dogs of any age requiring house training. Once house trained, adult dogs can usually hold their bladders longer and require being let out between 3 to 5 times per day. That equates to every 4 to 8 hours, depending on the dog's abilities to wait.

Of course, just as with humans, it is healthy to give more frequent opportunities to urinate when possible. Holding urine too long can lead to weakened bladders or bladder infections, neither of which will keep your carpet looking nice and both are ultra uncomfortable for your furry friend. Therefore, when it comes to bathroom breaks, finding several breaks in your daily schedule including a lunch break and a late night break to allow the dog to go outside or letting a pet sitter take him on a lunch break walk while you work may prove beneficial for both your dog and the person getting exercise while walking him. 

Exercise and Hydration
Speaking of exercise, another thing besides needing several daily bathroom breaks that humans share with dogs is a need to exercise at least 15 minutes twice per day and drink plenty of clean water. Dogs consume an average of 8.5 to 17 ounces of water for every 10 pounds daily. This number may increase as you exercise your dog, especially in the summer time. Therefore, always supply a large amount of fresh water for your dog to access throughout the day and while exercising in hot climates or over extended periods of time.

Quality Bonding Time with You
Training and exercise probably sounds a little dull compared to bonding with your pup during playtime and snuggling up during rest time. For some, this may be the hardest part of dog ownership while it's the best part for others who enjoy having a workout buddy. The nice thing about your dog requiring exercise a couple times per day is it helps you to stay active and healthy as well while getting in some of your dog's behavior training and building trust all within those two short sets of 15 minute intervals. Thus, walks should be rightfully embraced for the magical bonding time they are, right along side the fun play activities and warm cuddles.

Looking and Feeling his Best
Lastly, dogs need a certain level of grooming coupled with annual wellness visits with your veterinarian to look and feel his best. How much grooming depends on the breed and individual dog. However, all dogs will need at least occasional bathing and brushing, regular teeth brushing, and nail clipping as needed. Your vet should be able to discuss any additional grooming requirements during his first wellness visit, which is also a great time to check for any signs of distress or discomfort as dogs cannot always tell you when something is wrong.

Overall, getting a new dog is a lot like taking care of a baby at first until he undergoes some training. It may feel a little burdensome at times to care for others, though the reward is far greater than the burden. The great news is he will quickly develop into that best friend you wanted when given the proper care and training from the get go. Just don't say we didn't warn you when you start to see your own health improve as well from the walks and having a loving companion by your side who occupies a special place in your heart.