Pet in focus: dogs
Adopting a dog always comes with a great deal of responsibility. What factors need to be considered and what precautions should be taken before deciding to bring a pet into the family? What dog owners need to know.
Before you start looking for a suitable four-legged family member, you should ask yourself the following basic questions:
- Do I have enough space and time for a dog?
- Should the animal come from breeders, an animal shelter, abroad or from a private owner?
- What breed and gender is best for me? There are serious differences here, for example with regard to temperament, activity level, hair length (short vs. longhair), the size etc.
- Can I deal with more dirt and dog hair in my home?
- Where can I leave my dog if I want to travel? Am I willing to take it with me on vacation?
- Do I have enough financial means in case the animal falls ill?
- How can I balance my job, family, hobbies and a pet?
If these questions have been carefully considered, nothing stands in the way of getting a dog. With the necessary basic equipment, the new family member can usually move in quite quickly. It is important to allow enough time for settling-in and getting to know each other gradually, regardless of whether it is a puppy, adult or old dog. Every animal needs enough time to settle in, find their way around, build a relationship and, above all, learn to trust their owner. Establishing daily rituals (eating, resting, walking and play times) also takes a while. It is advisable therefore not to plan any big visits or excursions during the first few weeks.
There are various things that can help make this time as pleasant as possible, such as using essential lavender oil for room scenting, quietly playing classical music and following a daily routine. A dog box in a quiet place can also be useful for giving the dog a place to retreat to. It is important that the animal gets a lot of sleep. Although it can prove difficult, the dog should be encouraged to lie still in its bed from time to time so that it can nap. Puppies in particular need a lot of sleep at the beginning so that they can process everything they have experienced and avoid stress or excessive activity. While it may be tempting to constantly engage with the animal, following this advice will definitely pay off in the future.
Optimal feeding times for dogs
Few dog owners can hold out against a cute look from their dog. But to avoid begging becoming a habit, you should try to be consistent. Regardless of the type of food (wet or dry food, BARF or home-cooked) you choose, you should set consistent feeding times.
For most dogs, feeding twice a day – in the morning and evening – is ideal. Many pet owners also mix different types of food, and the combination of wet and dry food is particularly popular. In this case, it is advisable to offer wet food in the morning and dry food in the evening. Dry food absorbs water in the stomach and swells. Since the animal usually rests in the evening, this aids digestion and helps avoid stomach torsion. If dry food is already enriched with water before it is given, it should be fed before 6pm, as the dog might need to go outside again due to the increased water intake. The digestion time is shorter for wet food and self-composed menu plans (BARF or self-cooked), than for dry food, which stays longer in the digestive tract.
In the case of sick and old dogs, feeding in several small doses should be considered to make it easier on their digestion. Regardless of the dog’s age and type of food, it is important not to exceed the total amount of energy required by the animal so that they don’t become underweight or overweight. Otherwise, they can develop various diseases and joint problems. Mixed feeding and too many treats in particular often result in obesity.
Basic equipment for dogs
- Two bowls (food and water)
- Dog bed/blanket
- Leash, collar and chest strap (a safety chest strap is advisable, especially for very anxious or aggressive animals. There are numerous educational articles that you should read to help you choose the right leash. You can also contact dog trainers.)
- Dog box or safety belt for travelling in the car
- Toys/ space to run : Balls (preferably dog balls instead of felt or tennis balls) or intelligence games, which you can easily make yourself, for example. Intelligence activities challenge the dog and keep it busy, ten minutes of active sniffing is equivalent to an hour of walking! Of course, the dog still needs its daily exercise: at least one (in the case of pet owners with a garden), two or three walks (for owners without a garden).
- Vet visit : Dog must be chipped
- Food : Wet or dry food, BARF or home-cooked (pet owners should consider thoroughly the subject of feeding!)
- chewing materials, treats
- Dog shampoo, old towels
- Parasite prevention
- Animal medicine cabinet
To get to know your animal better, it is a good idea to read books and material about dog behaviour and dog calming signals. These enable owners to read their dogs better, so they can intervene early in dangerous situations and recognize when they are overwhelmed or feel uncomfortable. Even if you know your dog very well, you should still have a small medicine chest ready for any emergencies.
First aid for dogs: useful items in a medicine cabinet
- Clinical thermometer for anal use: The measurable normal body temperature in dogs is between 37.5 and 38.5°C. However, puppies and excited dogs can also reach up to 39.5 °C without being sick. The summer heat can raise the temperature of thick-skinned or stressed four-legged friends. Pet owners can alleviate this by spraying the fur with water, putting on a cool collar or offering a cool blanket. Another easy method is putting a wet t-shirt on the dog. The t-shirt must always remain wet, otherwise it could be counterproductive!
- Charcoal tablets: If a poison bait is swallowed, charcoal tablets can be administered according to the individual dog’s size. The vet should then be consulted, ideally with a sample of the bait.
- Bitter tincture for heartburn (noisy eating and salivating) and belching: Depending on the size of the dog, a few drops can be administered into the mouth before feeding.
- Homeopathic anti-fever medicines (eg. Aconitum napelus, Atropa belladonna, Lachesis muta, Ferrum phosphoricum)
- Eye drops or sodium chloride solution
- (non-burning) wound disinfectant
- dressing materials
- Zinc paste, marigold ointment for wound healing
- Tick tweezers/tweezers, claw scissors
- Emergency drops (Bach flowers)
- Ear cleaner : This can be used if the dog frequently scratches its ears or shakes its head. However, a distinction must be made between dirt that can form in the ear and an acute inflammation or fungal disease! The latter can only be treated by vets with appropriate medication.
- Disposable syringe without needle : This helps you apply disinfectant accurately or to administer medicine or liquid into the dog’s mouth.
- Telephone number of the respective vet or a veterinary clinic, and that of the veterinary emergency service!