New Dog Owners Guide

Table of contents:

  • Preparing to bring your dog home
  • Securing your home for your new pet
  • Choosing the right veterinarian
  • Obtain your dog license
  • Training your new dog
  • Keeping your pet healthy
  • Selecting the right dog food

Adding a new puppy to your family can be an exciting moment. If you ask any dog owner, they will agree that having a loyal companion that loves them unconditionally brings great joy to their daily lives. While it is a fun and exciting experience, having a dog is a significant commitment and a decision that should not be taken lightly.

If you are a first-time dog owner, you need to know a variety of things before bringing your new pet home.

Preparing to Bring Your Dog Home

Before you bring your new pet home for the first time, there are a few things you will want to do to your home to help make it safer and more comfortable for your new pet.

Your first step will be to go shopping for all the supplies you will need to care for your pet daily. We’ve put together a list of some must-haves for your new pet:
  • Bed – To start, you can use some old blankets to give them a soft place to sleep, but once they’ve grown out of their chewing phase, you should consider getting them an actual dog bed.
  • Brush- For a puppy, you will not need a fancy brush. As their coat grows in, you can add additional grooming tools to suit their fur.
  • Bowls- Try to avoid plastic since some dogs can be allergic to it. Look for stainless or ceramic instead.
  • Pet or baby gates- These will help you block off areas of your home that your pet is restricted from as they are being trained.
  • Collar, tags, leash- You will want to have the identification tags, collar, and leash ready for your pet so you can take them with you when you pick them up to bring them home.
  • Nail Clippers- You may be able to use cat nail clippers at first, depending on the size of your puppy. You will want to make sure you purchase clippers based on your dog’s size as they grow.
  • Crate- Having a crate ready will make it much easier to begin crate training right away. You can choose from plastic, metal, heavy-duty, soft-side, and decorative crates. Each has its pros and cons, so be sure to research each type to see which best suits your needs.
  • Poop scoop and bags- An important part of pet ownership is cleaning up after your pet. You can get scoopers for either grass or concrete, and be sure to have bags ready, especially if you are leaving your property with your dog.
  • Toys- Puppies are full of energy and will want to play. Be sure to get them a variety of toys to keep them occupied. Avoid toys with anything that could come off and become a choking hazard.
  • Toothbrush- You can purchase a dog toothbrush or a kids-sized one as well. In addition to brushing, you can give your dog dental treats for days where you do not get a chance to brush their teeth.
  • Shampoo- You will want to buy shampoo specifically formulated for dogs, which is available at most pet supply stores and retailers such as Walmart.

Securing Your Home for Your Pet

Now that you’ve gathered all the necessary supplies for your dog, it’s important to evaluate your home and eliminate any hazards. You will need to go throughout the home and dog-proof everything. Start by tucking or taping any loose electrical cords to baseboards.

You also want to make sure any household cleaners are stored on high shelves or secured in cabinets. You should also move any small rugs, pack up your breakable items or place them up out of reach as your puppy navigates its new home. Make sure you have the gates set up as well as their crate. Set up their food and water dishes as well.

As you secure your home, you will also want to decide where your dog will spend most of its time. If you are working from home, you can take your dog out at regular intervals and supervise them. If you need to leave your dog at home alone, you need to decide if they will be crated indoors with a neighbor or friend taking them out for bathroom breaks or if they will spend their time in an exercise pen.

You should also research pet daycare pricing to see if that is an option for you. Be sure to determine which options are best for your dog and have arrangements in place before you bring your pet home. You also need to decide where the dog will sleep each night. You can have them in a crate in your room, give them their bed as they get older, or maybe even allow them to sleep in bed with you or another family member in the home. You may also decide to let them roam freely throughout the home at night once they have been potty trained.

Choosing the Right Veterinarian

When looking for a veterinarian, you can start by asking your friends or family for recommendations. Once you’ve found a few that you are interested in, take the time to visit the different offices and meet with the veterinarian and staff to get a better idea of what they are like. You should also ask for a tour of the facility to make sure that you are comfortable with their standards of cleanliness. Make a checklist of what matters to you most regarding veterinarian care, and make sure you look for those qualities as you do your research.

It’s crucial for your puppy’s first vet visit to be a good experience so your dog can learn to go to the vet without anxiety or fear. Once you’ve chosen a vet, schedule your dog’s first appointment so they can get a checkup and any vaccinations they may need.

Obtain Your Dog License

In most places in the United States, it is legally required that you have a dog license. Your local law may be different, but a dog tag will help return them home if they ever get lost. You can also have your dog microchipped for additional insurance. Call your local animal care and control to learn more about how to get your dog licensed. In many cases, you should be able to apply online.

Training Your New Dog

When you first bring your dog home, keep things calm and laid back. Try not to overwhelm your puppy with a bunch of visitors and let them settle in for the first few days. You should also introduce your dog to their crate so you can get started on crate training. This is a great method for house training. The crate should be large enough for your puppy to stand up and turn around easily but not so roomy they can go to the bathroom on one side and lay on the other.

Another helpful tip is to put a toy stuffed with treats in the crate and close the door. When your dog starts to sniff and paw at the crate, you can open the door, let them inside, and close the door. Give your dog about 10 to 15 seconds in the crate with the door closed and then remove the treats and close the door again. Reopen the crate, place the treats back in and repeat the process. This should be repeated three to four times in a row at least four times throughout the day.

Training your pup should start as soon as you bring them home. The earlier you train them with good habits, the easier and faster they will learn good manners. This will help them learn what they can and cannot do, where their water and food dishes are, where they are supposed to go to the bathroom, which toys are theirs, where they can and cannot go in the house, and what behaviors are restricted.

You may consider hiring a dog trainer to ensure that your dog receives the best training they can get. Whether you want basic obedience training or something more in-depth, a trainer can help you achieve your goals.

When researching trainers, look for one who shares the same ethics and philosophy about dog training. You will want to make sure that they use methods you support to ensure that you will carry the training at home. You can expect to be a part of the trainer process and work with the trainer closely to reinforce the skills at home.

Consider getting recommendations from friends and neighbors. You will also want to make sure your trainer is certified and that they have references they can give you from current or previous clients.

Keeping Your Pet Healthy

To keep your dog in good health, you will want to take your puppy to the vet for a checkup every three to four weeks until they reach 16 weeks old. During these checkups, they will receive their vaccines as well as heartworm and flea/tick medication. The vet will make sure your dog is growing normally and that they are healthy. At six months old, you will schedule your dog to be neutered or spayed. As your dog gets older, your veterinarian will be able to recommend a schedule for a visit to make sure your pet gets the exams and shots they need.

Another important part of their health is keeping a regular exercise schedule—the amount of exercise your pet needs will depend on their age, size, and breed. Get into the habit of exercising your dog around the same time of day for a consistent amount of time to keep them happy and healthy. Walking, running, or playing fetch are all great ways for your dog to exercise.

Selecting the Right Dog Food

There are various dog food types and brands out there, from soft to kibble (dry food), each with its benefits and drawbacks.

Canned/wet food – Canned dog food is shelf-stable and makes for a convenient food option for dog owners. Keep in mind that this type of food is not always nutritionally complete and can also be expensive. Look for canned food that is “100% nutritionally complete.”

Kibble/dry food – This is one of the most affordable options and helps with your dog’s oral health because chewing the crunchy kibble helps remove tartar.

Semi-moist – This food resembles “meaty food” and is commonly made up of preservatives as well as artificial colorings and flavors with little nutritional value. These are usually best suited as an occasional treat for your pup.

Raw – This diet comprises raw bones, raw meat, fruit, vegetables, and raw organs. This type of diet can be great for dogs, but it has its drawbacks. It can be time-consuming to prepare, poses a risk of imbalances in nutrition and the risk of broken teeth. Speak with your veterinarian before switching to this diet.

Veterinary diet – This is a diet specifically formulated to address your dog’s specific health needs for certain types of conditions. Your vet will recommend this type of diet if needed.

When choosing food for your dog, be sure to focus on the first five ingredients of the food. You also want to look for food with top-quality digestible proteins. Avoid foods with ingredients such as poultry or meat by-products, generic fat sources like animal fat, artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, and added sweeteners.

The amount of food and how often you feed your dog will depend on their size and how much exercise they get each day. You want to avoid overfeeding your dog. This can lead to skin disorders, oral disease, heart disease, musculoskeletal problems, skin disorders, arthritis, diabetes, and even some types of cancer.

High-Quality Veterinary Care for Your Dog

At the Animal Medical Center of Streetsboro, we will take great care of your pet! To schedule their first exam, contact us today!

Senior Pet Wellness: How to Turn Back the Clock and Keep Your Older Pet Healthy

Table of contents: Senior Pet Wellness

  1. Diet for Senior Pets
  2. Exercise for senior dogs
  3. CBD Therapy for Senior Pets
  4. Signs of Aging in Senior Pets
  5. Changes in Behavior as a Pet Ages
  6. Getting A Senior Wellness Exam for Your Pet

 

Keeping your pet healthy is your top priority, especially as they age. As your pet gets older, there are several things you can do to help keep them healthy and happy. At the Animal Medical Center of Streetsboro, we have put together a guide on senior pet wellness to help you get started!

At What Age Do You Consider Your Pet to be a “Senior”?

The age at which a dog is a senior varies based on the size of the dog. For small breeds, a senior dog is 10-12 years old. Medium-sized breeds are considered senior dogs at 8-9 years old. Giant breeds are seniors at the age of 6 or 7 years old.
Senior cats are between 11-14 years of age, and geriatric cats are 15 years or older.

Diet for Senior Pets

Pet DIet - Pet FoodAs dogs enter old age, they benefit greatly from eating less fat and fewer calories. Changes in their metabolic rate occur as they get older, causing fewer calories to be burned and more to be stored as fat.
In some cases, dogs can begin to lose weight as they age, requiring more calories. Some older dogs have a decreased appetite due to a decreased sense of smell or taste or difficulty chewing or swallowing. In some cases, you may need to increase their diet’s fat content to increase the palatability and calorie content for your pet. This will depend on your dog’s unique needs.
Senior dogs need a minimum of 25 percent of calories from protein. This will help them maintain muscle. Even with exercise, older dogs will begin to lose muscle mass, which means they will experience losses in protein reserves. Losses in muscle tissue and protein reserves can weaken the immune system and decrease their response to physical trauma, stress, and tissue repair. It is also important to decrease the sodium in your senior dog’s diet and make sure they have a steady supply of cool water to drink.
For senior cats, their calorie intake will initially decrease. Still, as they reach around the age of 11, their energy requirements will begin to increase due to difficulty digesting protein and fats. Calories should be reduced by 20% for mature and senior cats, whereas with geriatric cats, you will want to increase their caloric intake to ensure they sustain a normal physique. You can control their caloric intake with portion feeding based on your veterinarian’s recommendations.
Avoid excessive phosphorus and sodium in your cat’s diet, and make sure they have regular water access. Be sure to monitor their water intake in case there is a reduction in their drinking.

Exercise for Senior Dogs

While diet is important, it is also crucial to your senior dog’s health to ensure they are getting enough exercise to occupy their minds and keep them at a healthy weight. As your senior pet ages, their mobility may decline, but they still require exercise. Your dog may not be able to go on a run with you or chase the ball as fast as they used to, but they can still engage in a variety of safe physical activity.
Exercise can help decrease the onset of ailments in your senior dog, such as muscle loss or arthritis. Walking is one great way to keep your dog active and is a favorite of all dogs, young and old.
With your senior pet, keep in mind that they can be more sensitive to changes in temperature, so make sure they are comfortable in the heat or cold on your walk. It is also recommended to walk your senior dog on grass or sand, which is a lower impact surface than asphalt or gravel, which can cause injury to their paws in hot weather.
If you notice your dog is stiff after your walk, reduce the length of the walk to keep them comfortable. Another great activity is swimming. If you can find a dog-friendly pool or lake nearby, swimming is a great way to give your dog a total body workout. This is a safe way for them to maintain their strength while keeping their joints and bones comfortable. If your pet does not normally swim, ask your veterinarian for dog trainer recommendations for a safer experience. Exercising Your Pet

CBD Therapy for Senior Pets

Full-spectrum CBD is a popular solution for pet owners to help relieve symptoms of various health issues experienced by their pets. Whole hemp extract is derived from the marijuana plant containing 80 different cannabinoids, including THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive component, and the CBD (cannabidiol), which is the medical component that is used in CBD oil.
Whole hemp extract does not contain the psychoactive compound THC and is safe to administer to your pet. This extract works to relieve symptoms of various health conditions and pain by reacting with the endocannabinoid system. This is a series of receptors found in both humans and most animals. The cannabinoids interact with these receptors in your dog’s body to help relieve issues such as pain, nausea, and anxiety.
Unlike traditional pain medications, full-spectrum CBD does not damage the liver, GI tract, or kidneys. It can be used to treat conditions such as occasional discomfort, arthritis, anxiety, back pain, gastrointestinal issues, and more. Whole hemp extract can also help improve your dog’s health by:

  • Enhancing their liver and kidney functions
  • Supporting your dog’s performance and endurance
  • Supporting your dog’s connective tissue health
  • Promoting better coronary circulation
  • Supporting your dog’s brain and nerve function
  • Supporting digestion
  • Supporting a strong inflammatory response
  • Supporting healthy cellular activity

This treatment can be administered through a topical treatment applied directly to your pet’s afflicted area. Typically this treatment is administered to your pet orally. Be sure to discuss the best treatment and dosage for your pet with your veterinarian to ensure they reap the medication’s positive benefits.

Signs of Aging in Senior Pets

Aging PetEach dog ages at its own pace, but they are all eventually affected by similar age-related afflictions. Some of the most common issues include cognitive dysfunction syndrome and joint disorders. Cancer and liver failure are also common ailments in older dogs.
Teeth issues and infected gums are other common issues with aging pets. Signs of tooth decay or gum infections include plaque, bad breath, swollen gums, loss of appetite, and plaque. While tooth decay is uncomfortable for your pet, it can also lead to serious infections entering the bloodstream.
Age-related diseases are another thing to keep an eye out for, such as cognitive dysfunction syndrome. If your dog is suffering from cognitive dysfunction, they may seem to be unstable or confused at times.
Unfortunately, senility and cognitive dysfunction are not curable. Still, there are various treatments and healthy aging supplements that you can give your dog to help reduce the effects. Look out for signs such as slow response times, staring at the wall, unwillingness to go outside, etc. If you notice signs like this, be sure to contact your veterinarian.
You may also notice fatty lumps called lipomas caused by your pet’s metabolic system using less energy. They are typically harmless but should be checked by a vet.
Pain and stiffness of the joints is another sign of aging. Your dog will instinctively hide aches and pains, so you may not notice them right away. As their joints continue to deteriorate, you will see their mobility lessen, especially after a long walk or when they first wake up. Consider asking your veterinarian about joint health supplements to help improve their quality of life and joint health.
Another sign of aging is the loss of senses, such as sight, hearing, and smell. The first signs of hearing or sight loss are subtle and may include your pet becoming more easily startled or possibly aggressive when someone approaches them. Your dog may also become less responsive to commands, which can be mistaken as bad behavior. Make sure to keep their bed, food, and water bowls in the same place to keep their routine easy for them. Try to avoid sudden movements to avoid startling your dog.
Incontinence is another common sign of aging in dogs. While some do not lose complete control over their bladder, the occasional accident is common.

Changes in a Pet’s Behavior After They Age

Aging can affect your dog’s behavior in a variety of ways. You may notice that your dog is less enthusiastic when greeting you or is more cautious when exploring outside.
You may also notice that your senior dog will sleep more throughout the day and has less energy than they used to. They require more sleep, so try to avoid waking them up while they sleep during the day.
For cats, arthritis is a major problem. Changes in their behavior will include an unkempt appearance and less desire to jump to high places. You will also notice that they will avoid human interaction, dislike being brushed or stroked, or decrease or increase in their sleep.
You may also notice that they will have issues getting into and out of the litter box and will not use it reliably. Some cats may cry in the middle of the night; they will act confused and may have trouble relating to family members like they usually do. These changes can be caused by aging but may also be signs of arthritis, dental disease, or kidney disease.

Getting a Senior Wellness Exam for Your Dog

Regular veterinary care is a crucial part of your pet’s health, no matter how old they are. As your pet ages, many changes occur to your pet’s maturity and physiology that can cause disease and other serious medical concerns, such as cognition problems, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, thyroid, liver, heart, and kidney disease.
By having your veterinarian conduct a regular wellness exam, they can detect these issues early on to help prevent or minimize the illness’s progression. A senior wellness exam will include a comprehensive physical exam, a dental health checkup, vaccinations and parasite control based on health and age as well as:

  • Hearing and vision assessment
  • Supplement and medication checks
  • Life stage-specific blood tests
  • Behavior consultation
  • Screening for parasites

Your veterinarian will also provide advice about exercise, diet, and weight maintenance for your pet. Other exams or tests may be discussed based on your pet’s individual needs.

Senior Pet Health at the Animal Medical Center of Streetsboro

To learn more about caring for your senior pet or to schedule a senior wellness exam, contact your veterinarian at the Animal Medical Center of Streetsboro today!

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