This is the sixth article in the series about educating yourself about DOG OWNERSHIP
Healthy diets and feeding behaviors
Caring for your dog’s coat.
Let’s get started!
A common question / situation!! – My dog chows down on the droppings of other animals. Does he really like the taste or is there a deficiency in his diet?
Dogs have fewer taste buds than many animals. They enjoy the waste products mainly for smell and texture, rather than any particularly exciting taste.
Also, some types of manure are actually nutritious and healthy for your dog’s digestive system. This doesn’t mean you have to let him eat it, however. If your dog is eating droppings or manure despite your best efforts to break him of the behavior, it is possible there is something missing in his diet, but it’s also possible that its just a case of “that’s what dogs do”. Any advice you find on the internet would have several differing theories but the bottom line is that dogs don’t see some actions that they instinctively do as disgusting …… only us humans do.
Make sure you give your dog a diet that contains a mix of good quality dry dog food and some raw meat. Always include raw meat of some sort or perhaps one of those “in the cool section” meat based dog foods at your local food store / grocery store as they are usually a mixture of meat off-cuts and offal, which is great for your dog. You can also add some mashed cooked vegetable such as pumpkin and carrots, and a few greens when they are not to expensive, this adds bulk without the calories and is good for their digestion.
There is quite a bit of difference of opinion on doggie diet in the dog fraternity. Battles rage between the dry dog food advocates and those that think it is absolutely necessary for their diet to contain mainly raw meat. If this topic is of interest to you then you will find plenty to research on the internet.
My dog has really bad gas. Will changing his diet help?
The short answer is: “Maybe.” You can experiment with your dog’s diet, but keep in mind that some dogs are just prone to imbalances in gut bacteria and will still have gas no matter how much you reduce gas-causing foods. (A bit like some people!) Some of the “hash” that masquerades as cheap dog food in a can definitely can be responsible; and the stools you have to clean up after they eat this muck?? Just don’t try to feed that sort of hash and you should have a dog with fewer gas problems.
You can possibly help restore balance by giving your dog yogurt along with enzyme supplements but the first thing to try is to not “go cheap” on their diet and give them a wholesome balanced meal. Could this also help your dog live longer? HELL YES!
My dog has plenty of food, but wants to eat everyone else’s meal, too. Why?
This is both a dominance behavior, as well as a survival instinct. In a dog pack, there is no sharing and alpha-status is enhanced by taking resources for oneself. This instinct really can not be trained away, so the best bet is to feed your dogs in separate rooms and if you don’t want to be starred at while you are eating you will need to remove them from the room. There is just no way they won’t turn on the BIG please (with the sad / pleading eyes) when you are having something to eat, even after they have just had their own meal. If you have a dog that doesn’t show this interest it could have a problem, although some toy breeds are commonly finicky eaters. Read up on your breed if your dog shows little interest in eating everything in sight.
How important is variety to my dog’s diet?
As long the food you’re feeding to your dog is nutritionally balanced, there is no harm in feeding him the exact same thing every day. If he already loves his food, all the better. Remember that routine is important to dogs. Changing food too frequently is likely to upset him.
My dog is well-fed, but still eats garbage, bugs and just about anything else he can find. Why?
Dogs are natural scavengers, and they love the thrill of ‘the hunt’. However, a well-fed dog will almost never seek out food in this way unless he is bored. In other words, he isn’t hungry. He’s just dying for more stimulation and exercise.
If you tend to keep your dog indoors a majority of the time, and notice scavenging behavior when you let him out, take this as a sign to add more variety and physical exercise to his play time. Ramp up the frequency of ‘walks’ or make an effort to take him somewhere new and exciting. A doggy park or a doggy beach are just the kind of places where your dogs mental stimulation is increased and its socialization skills are enhanced.
Why does my dog eat grass?
Dogs are omnivores. Having a meal of fresh grass is a lot like having a salad, and your dog will eat it when he feels the need for a little extra fiber. There is no harm to your dog in eating grass, and even certain weeds, so let him have at it!
Occasionally, your dog will eat grass when his stomach is upset, too. This helps him regurgitate the offending items, and is also a perfectly natural and healthy behavior.
How often should I bathe my dog?
Some commercial soaps and shampoos, even those designed for dogs, can contain chemicals that can strip your dog’s fur of moisture and dry out the skin. Therefore, it is important that chose a good quality product and that you don’t overdo it when it comes to bathing your dog. There is a BIG price variation when it comes to shopping for dog shampoos and conditioners. If you go for a cheaper product make sure you do a test area and leave it a day or so before you complete the dog wash. Some dogs have more sensitivity than others and some breeds are also more prone to skin problems so it is a good idea to test. Without promoting certain products it seems than generally those that contain tea tree oil promote how good it is for sensitive skin, so there is a hint. If you want to minimize the chance of having skin irritation problems go with a good quality shampoo but please, still do the test if you have any suspicion that your dog might nave sensitive skin.
Obviously you can and should give your dog a bathe if he has rolled in something smelly, gone swimming or romped through the mud. Daily combing though will keep your dogs coat stimulated, remove much of the dead smelly hair and reduce the need to bathe him more than every fortnight.
There are some breeds that do not have that “doggy smell”, some that do not shed coat and some that don’t do either. So if that is a big consideration when you look for your ideal breed keep that in mind. (And then those bathes can become even more infrequent if you wish).
When I do bathe my dog, what are the best shampoos to use?
It has already been stated that a major selling point with a lot of shampoo brands is the inclusion of tea tree oil. You need to choose a shampoo and/or conditioner suitable to your breed’s texture. Soft, silky-haired breeds / long haired breeds need conditioner to keep their hair in top shape and to reduce tangling and matting of the coat. Coarse or wire-haired breeds need only shampoo, and using a conditioner on them is wasted effort. The “in between” coat textures will feel all the better with some conditioning now and then; especially in dry and / or windy environments.
If you become a show dog owner there is plenty of advice at the show location from vendors selling products on site.
How often should I clip my dog’s nails?
Dog’s should have their nails clipped on a monthly basis. It is best to use clippers designed especially for a dog’s nails rather than human clippers or scissors.
Additional care should be taken if your dog is one of the breeds with dark nails, as it can be much harder to tell how close to the ‘quick’ you are, and it is important not to damage the quick as it can get infected. Not to mention it is painful for the dog (as there is a nerve there) and it will become very stressed every time it sees you with the clippers.
Of course having daily walks that include walks on hard surfaces such as concrete and bitumen roadway is absolutely the best way to keep nails at the correct length. You will probably never have to manage nail length if your dog gets good walks but take care as it gets older and walks get shorter and / or less frequent as they will grow quickly.
What are the health risks of fleas?
Fleas are more than an annoyance! Aside from the itching and ‘hot spots’ they can create on your dog’s skin, they can also be carriers of tapeworms. All your dog has to do is eat a flea that happens to be carrying a tapeworm egg, and you’ve got an additional problem on your hand. This is especially the case for country dogs and some Countries have more of an issue with these parasites than others.
Fleas, however, are easily controlled with topical solutions and even more so nowadays with some great products that manage fleas, ticks and worms with regular administrations, sometimes up to 3 months apart.They often also treat eggs and other parts of the flea cycle so that you get total elimination from your environment.
Some good advice is to consult with your Vet as to what is the best product for your dog but another solution is to do your own research from reading all the information sheets available about these products. It could be that your Vet might be getting incentives for promoting one product over another and although their advice would be entirely honest it might still preclude a product that is just as effective but less costly. It’s up to you!
Make sure that you treat your dog as soon as possible when you find evidence of fleas. Untreated, the fleas will multiply and invade not just your dog’s fur, but they could acquire a taste for human blood and also infest your carpets and bedding, and of course your yard for years to come.
lets continue on with “stuff” you probably didn’t think about when it comes to owning a dog …. you’ve had a lot to digest so far if your still hanging on and reading this …… but you will be a better owner for it; …… O.K. then keep on reading ….. in Part 7 “COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT DOG MAINTENANCE – PART 2” we will now answer some common questions about dog health and wellness that just might save your dog from being distressed or possibly save its life.