Some points to consider after adopting a pet:
–Heartworm preventative, monthly, is imperative. I recommend the chewable monthly (Heartguard or Interceptor are what I use, but you can use other brands; switching brands is not a problem). Make sure you give it monthly, on the same day, year round. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes and are really prevalent in the south, so you must give it year round and it’s critical to give it on the same day every month.
–Frontline (topical flea med) can be used if necessary, but I don’t recommend doing in prophylactically, instead, only use it if you need it (it’s a pesticide you are putting on your dog, which not only gets on your dog, but you). If you use it, I recommend only during warm months when fleas are out and you will probably find you can apply once every 6-8 weeks (if you need it), and that will be enough.
–Food is extremely important for long term good health. Many health conditions (ie: pancreatitis) can be avoided by the use of a high quality food. Most commercial pet foods (including Science Diet, which is commonly pushed by vets) are made from non-human grade ingredients. That means if a cow or chicken have cancer or die on the way to the slaughterhouse and have maggots, and cannot be fed to humans, they are ground up and put in dog food. Buying a human grade ingredient dog food avoids this. That means that the quality of the ingredients is food we would eat. Natura pet makes three I recommend: the best is Karma Organic. It’s not only human grade, but organic. It’s pricey, but you will likely find what you save on vet costs makes it worth it.
The second best choices are Innova or California Natural (they make puppy food—Karma Organic only comes in adult formula—puppies under 6 months need puppy food; it has the protein they need to grow; after 6 months, adult food should be given because the higher level of protein in puppy food can cause obesity and kidney problems). California Natural and Innova are both human grade (not organic) and have a variety of flavors.
PetSmart now sells Innova and California Natural but not the Karma. To find the closest store with any of these foods, go to www.naturapet.com and search for a store. (They also make treats).
A great book on pet foods is “Food Pets Die For”, it’s very eye-opening.
I have a homemade dog treat recipe that I’ll be happy to share with you—just ask.
I also recommend giving a tablespoon or two of yogurt (I give 1 tablespoon per 5 pounds of body weight) to them every morning. The probiotics benefit them as much as us. Stick to low fat or non-fat and NEVER give artificially sweetened yogurt to them. Artificial sweeteners are poisonous to dogs.
–Avoid high-fat foods (both dog and human). They can cause pancreatitis.
–Cat food (and cat poo) is very appealing to dogs. Aside from the gross factor, it can cause health issues. Cats need more protein in their diets than dogs, so their food (and poo) is higher in protein, which makes it very tasty to a dog. However, that increased protein (which corresponds to an increase in fat) can cause pancreatitis and other health problems.
–Avoid raisins, grapes, avocados, onions, artificial sweeteners and never given Ibuprophen (Advil or Tylenol) to a dog. All are poisonous.
will give you a list of poisonous items for a dog. They also have a 24 hour help line if you think your dog has gotten into something and gotten poisoned.
–I recommend always keeping a bottle of children’s Benadryl and an oral syringe (you can get them from your vet) on hand. If your dog sticks his/her nose in fire ants or a beehive or some other stinging creature, giving Benadryl before rushing to the vet oftentimes can save their life. The Benadryl can help keep their nose and muzzle from swelling enough to cut off their air supply. 1 ML per 5 pounds of body weight. Make sure when you get to the emergency vet you tell them you have given it.
–Your new pet has had his/her shots. I do NOT recommend annual vaccines. The large amount of vaccines we give our domesticated pets has been linked in some studies to increased cancer. Rabies is mandatory, but I recommend a three year rabies shot, rather than a one year. Overall, it’s less hyper-stimulation of their immune system. I also recommend Bordatella. It’s given inter-nasally, so it doesn’t over stimulate the immune system and prevents kennel cough (an airborne disease that they can easily catch if boarded, at the vet, or in contact with another dog). DHLP (the other vaccine most vets recommend annually), I do not recommend giving. With a simple blood test a vet can check for ‘titers’ which is the immune response to those diseases. If the response is adequate, there is no medical need for the shots. (If their immune system has enough resistance, giving them another shot does not increase immunity, it just over stimulates the immune system.) As of this writing, I have not given any of my personal dogs a DHLP in 6 years. Every year we test their titers and every year they are fine. I’m not a vet so be sure to discuss with your vet.
–I do recommend annual blood work in general, in addition to the harness, as you can often detect health problems earlier that way.
–I have pet insurance on my dogs. The best one I have found is www.petfirst.com (no, I don’t get a commission ;-). I have the preferred plus coverage and it’s paid for itself even with my young healthy dogs (it pays some for annual exam, pays most of heartworm preventative and pays pretty well for illness or injury).
–For small dogs (under 10 pounds) I recommend a harness, NOT a collar. Small dogs have very thin cartilage in their tracheas, due to their size, and often their tracheas will collapse—it’s the wheezing or asthma sound you hear them make. A collar can put pressure on these small tracheas and cause them to collapse. A harness does not. In addition, a harness can help you easily pick up your dog if you are walking and a big dog comes up. It doesn’t hurt them to grab the back of the harness and pick them up quickly if you need to. (Never use a choke collar on a small dog).
–For toys and bones: Avoid rawhides. Rawhides made outside of the US are often cured with animal urine—gross! In addition, small piece of a rawhide, if a dog swallows them, oftentimes will get stuck in their intestines which, at best will require surgery to correct and, at worst can cause death. Nylabones are better, as the pieces a dog shaves off will pass thru their digestive tract. Even with Nylabones, however, you need to take it away (and throw it away) if the piece is small enough for them to swallow. They should not swallow it.
Also avoid the rope toys, as they get worn and chewed, small pieces of the string come off and, if your dog swallows them, can wrap around the intestine, causing serious problems which surgery may or may not correct.
Greenies are ok, but limit to 1 or 2 a week.
Avoid stuffed animal toys with eyes or noses that are hard plastic and can be chewed off and swallowed.
–I recommend Oatmeal shampoo—you can buy it at Target or Wal-Mart. It’s gentle on their skin.
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