First-Time Dog Owner Complete Guide
Essential tips for first-time dog owners!
First-Time Dog Owner Complete Guide
Bringing a new dog home? Congratulations! Your life is about to be enriched in unexpected ways! Owning a dog is a fun and rewarding experience, but can be also daunting as well.
It’s important to well-prepared forehand. Follow our first-time dog owner guide, you will have a perfect set up, ready for your furry friend!
Part A: Choosing The Right Diet
#1: The Basics of Canine Nutrition
Like humans, dogs require a balanced diet to provide their body with the nutrients required to thrive. There are six major classes of nutrients: water, protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
About 70 percent of a dog’s body is made up of water – that’s why it is critically important to keep your furry friend stay hydrated. Make sure he always has a bowl of clean water available. Water also help cools the body, lubricates joints and internal organs, transports nutrients and removes waste.
Proteins are complex molecules made up of amino acids, the building blocks of cell growth, maintenance and repair. The amino acids support muscle growth and maintenance. Proteins are also critical for digestive enzyme production, antibodies to help fight disease and a healthy coat.
Fats provide the most concentrated source of energy in the diet. In additional to supplying energy, fats support brain function and development, help maintain healthy skin and hair, control inflammation and support the immune system.
Carbohydrates are sugars and starches that are rapidly converted to energy by the body. Although dogs can get energy from protein and fats alone, carbohydrates that can be broken down by the digestive system and converted to glucose can also be a source of energy.
Vitamins are important to keep your dog’s body healthy by helping to generate energy from other nutrients and helping the cells to use those nutrients efficiently. They are divided into two groups: fat-soluble vitamins and water-soluble vitamins. Typically, water-soluble vitamins pass through a cat’s body more quickly, while fat-soluble ones are stored in her body. Fat-soluble vitamins include A, D, E and K, while water-soluble vitamins includes C and the B complex.
Minerals are essential for producing and using energy, healthy teeth and bones, nervous and digestive system health and cellular functions throughout the body.
#2: Type Of Dog Food
Feed your dog the highest-quality food you can afford. Note that there are simply no differences between dry and wet dog food in terms of nutrition and digestibility. Dog owners are advised to make decision based on budget, lifestyle, preferences, age and breed of dogs, health conditions of dogs and their lifestyle. For instance, canned foods may be a better choice for dogs that need to consume more water or have certain special dietary needs. Otherwise, most dogs will do fine on dry food.
Read more: Dog Food Reviews
There are four types of dog food:
1. Dry Dog Food
Known as kibbles, dry dog foods have low moisture content. They can come on the form of extruded foods (shaped pellets or kibbles), flake foods (flaked cereals) and biscuits/mixers. Dry food is the most economical option. It doesn’t expire as quickly as other types of food and it doesn’t need to be refrigerated. It is easier to serve to your dog as well – no cooking or preparation involved. It can be left out for him to eat at his own pace without fear of spoilage. Plus, the crunchiness of the food cleans his teeth, which aids in dental hygiene.
Depending on the manufacturer’s instructions, dry food may be offered dry. Owners can add water or gravy to the food too. Note that dry dog food contains a low moisture content, thus it’s important to provide your dog a fresh supply of water at all times.
2.Wet Dog Food
Wet dog food contains a high moisture content. It usually come on the form of cans, foil trays and pouches and the contents include chunks in gravy, chunks in jelly and meatloaf formats. It’s typically cooked at a very high temperature in order to sterilize the food.
Since wet dog food requires no chewing, it’s much easier for senior dogs or dogs with poor dental health to eat. However, it’s more expensive than dry food. Once opened, wet dog food should be stored in the refrigerator for no longer than seven days. You’ll need to pay attention to the protein and water content. The higher the water content, the less nutrients are going to be in the food. This means your dog will need to consumer more food to meet his daily nutritional requirement.
3.Semi-moist Dog Food
It is usually a popular method type of dog treat. In general, semi-moist dog food will look like soft pellets. It usually comes packaged in sachets and has a chewy texture. If you’re thinking about feeding your dog a semi-moist diet, seek the advice of your vet first.
4.Frozen and Freeze-Dried Dog Food
Raw dog food will either come in a freeze-dried or frozen form. It becomes susceptible to bacteria growth if not kept at low temperatures. It’s a healthy diet that most experts in the pet food industry are now recommending, however, it’s also very expensive.
These foods do not last very long either. Frozen food can be leave in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
#3: How To Read Pet Food Label?
Many of the commercial foods on the market are not healthy for your pet. Thus, dog owners should be very careful about the dog food that they select, as many are full of artificial flavours, colours and preservatives. And, many may also include unhealthy fillers and ingredients with absolutely no nutritional value.
Always pay most attention to the first five or six ingredients. This is because their content is most prevalent in the food. And this is to ensure that your dog gets enough good sources of protein. Firstly, understand the terminology. If the first ingredient is “chicken” or “lamb”, you’re off to a good start – unless that devious word “flavour” or “meal” is in the same sentence. Note that meat meal may contain indigestible parts such as feathers, feet or beaks. Good protein sources in dog diet include chicken, beef, fish and lamb.
Avoid corn products and by-products, as well as artificial flavours, colours and preservatives – we want our dogs’ food to be natural and whole as possible! By-products should be avoided as you never know the source of the meat. They may include stomach and intestines. Look for named protein source too, such as “chicken, turkey, lamb, or beef,” rather than “meat”. On canned food particularly, the protein source should be the first listed ingredient.
Does your dog have an allergy? It’s important to identify his food allergies and scan the ingredient list to make sure none of the ingredients are allergens.
Other ingredients to avoid are:
1.Corn and wheat gluten
3.Artificial preservatives such as BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin (Keep in mind that natural preservatives such as mixed tocopherols are preferable)
4.Food dyes (Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 5 and 6, 4-MIE)
Guaranteed analysis is the another thing you should look out for when choosing a high-quality dog food. This means that the dog food was tested by a lab and is guaranteed to have the listed percentages of protein, fat, fiber and moisture. Depending on whether the food is wet or dry, the portion sizes for wet and dry food are different. Click here to find out more.
Last but not least, never judge a pet food by its cover. It is often misleading when pet foods are labeled as “premium”, “super premium”, “ultra premium”, “gourmet”, “natural” and “organic”. Keep in mind that those pet foods are not required to contain any different or higher quality ingredients than any other complete and balanced product.
Get your high-quality dog food here.
Read more: How Do I Read A Dog Food Label
#4: Feeding Method
Feeding methods include: portion control feeding and free choice feeding.
Portion control feeding is a method that measure your dog’s food and offer him as a meal, thereby controlling the amount of food that can be consumed. It’s used for weight controlling and for dogs that might overeat if fed free choice. Dog owners can provide food in one or more meals daily.
If you are using free-choice feeding method, food is available at all times. Note that only dry food can be fed in this way. Your dog may overeat when fed free.
Read more: Can I Feed My Dog Human Food?
#5: How much should you feed your dog?
Note that puppies need relatively larger quantities of food. This is because they are growing rapidly and have limited space in their tiny stomachs. At 6 to 8 weeks of age, they need to be fed about 4 to 6 meals a day.
By 6 months, dog owners should decrease the amounts of food as puppies are about 75% of their adult size and can be fed 2 to 3 meals a day.
Read more: How Much Should I Feed My Dog?
Part B: What Are The Necessary Pet Supplies And Equipment?
Here’s the checklist of dog supplies for your new furkid.
Food and Water Bowls: Stainless steel or ceramic dishes are best. Look for products appropriately sized for your dog.
Collar Or Harness: Choose a collar appropriately sized for your dog. From traditional nylon to leather to those used for specific purposes, there are a wide range of collars available. Nylon is the good option to start off as it is generally cheaper than others. Always choose a wider collar – you should be able to insert two fingers between the collar and your dog’s neck to ensure his comfort and safety.
Leash: A must-have item when you go out for a walk. Try to choose a longer leash as it provides your dog with greater freedom, as well as allows you to be in control of your dog.
Dog Bed: Dog bed style and pricing varies greatly.
Dog Crate: Expect to spend a minimum of RM 50. You need a dog carrier to bring your dog home and for safe travel to vet appointments. It’s on the must-have list as it helps keep your pet calm while also preventing unwanted destructive behaviours.
Toys: Spend about RM 13 – RM 35 to keep your dog happy and occupied.
Part C: The Vaccinations, Spay/Neuter, Deworming And Tick/Flea Treatment
Health should be one of your main concerns. We all want our dogs to be happy so looking after their well-being is very important.
#1: When Should My Dog Have His Vaccinations?
Your vet will tell you when you should vaccinate your dog. Vaccinating your new dog is a good idea if he is not vaccinated in the first place, but do take note of which vaccines your vet is giving him. Vaccines help to stimulate your dog’s immune system to help fight off disease. Dogs should be vaccinated when they are puppies and then receive boosters during their lifetime.
According to Dr.Hii Wei Chuong, veterinarian of Wesley Veterinary Clinic, it could start when the puppy is six weeks old.
“The second injection will be given on the 10th week, and the third on the 14th week. After that, the injection is once a year,” said Dr. Hii. Thereafter, your dog will require repeat vaccination at regular intervals for the rest of his life.
#2: What Are The Core And Non-Core Vaccinations?
Core vaccines are recommended for all puppies and dogs. These include vaccines for canine parvovirus (CPV), canine distemper virus (CDV) and rabies. Canine distemper and canine parvo virus as two most common dangerous diseases.
Canine Parvovirus is a highly contagious viral disease that is caused by the canine parvovirus type 2 (CPV-2) virus. The virus attacks the gastrointestinal tract and immune system of puppies and dogs, causing severe vomiting and diarrhea. Note that it can attack the hearts of young puppies too. It spreads through direct contact with infected dogs or infected feces. And it’s easily carried on hands, food dishes, leashes and so on. In untreated dogs, the mortality rate can exceed 90 percent, according to Vet Street.
Canine distemper is an incurable disease that can lead to seizures and death. It can be spread through direct contact or indirect contact. Direct contacts include licking and breathing air, while indirect contacts include bedding, toys, food bowls etc. Non-immunized canines that come into any kind of contact with an infected animal carry a particularly high risk of contracting the disease.
Rabies is a viral disease that can be carried by many mammals. It’s commonly transmitted through a bite from the infected mammal. Once a dog is infected with rabies, he will exhibit slight nervous systems abnormalities. Rabies can be stopped if it is treated before symptoms occur.
Non-core vaccines are optional vaccines that should be considered in light of the exposure risk of the pet. They include canine parainfluenza virus (CPiV), canine influenza virus H3N8, canine influenza virus H3N2 distemper-measles combination vaccine, Bordetella bronchiseptica and Borrelia burgdorferi, according to UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
Read more: The Truth About Annual Vaccinations
“Spaying” is for female dogs and “neutering” is for males. It is a simple surgical procedure that is usually performed right at the vet’s office. Adult dogs can be neutered at any age, but the best time is before sexual maturity. Ideally, it’s best performed at 4 months of age, before your dog’s first heat.
Neutering or spaying can have several positive health effects on your dog. In females, it significantly helps decrease the risk of ovarian and uterine tumours, severe UTIs (Urinary tract Infections) and ovarian cysts. Recent research indicates that it can also offset the chances of breast cancer substantially. In males, neutering prevents testicular and prostate cancer and helps keep your little soldier’s private parts germ-free during mating season.
Read more: Pro and Cons of Spaying Your Pet
#4: Fleas and worms
All dogs should be treated regularly for fleas and worms. While worming products are available from pet stores and supermarkets, these are often old or less effective products and some of them are even less safe to use in dogs. Always consult your vet on which treatment he or she would recommend. The best way to diagnose a worm problem is with a visit to the vet.
Tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms are common internal parasites in dogs. Signs your dog may have worms include: Diarrhea (may be bloody), a rough/dry coat, a change in appetite, weight loss, vomiting with roundworms and an overall poor appearance.
Another common canine health problem, fleas will make your dog intensely uncomfortable. And they can also cause allergic reactions, infections, and even lead to anemia from blood loss. Signs your dog may have fleas include: hair loss, tapeworms, flea dirt, excessive licking, biting or scratching, hot spots and allergic dermatitis.
There are a number of products that can help prevent your dog from getting ticks and fleas. Dog owners are advised to talk to your vet about the right flea medicine for your dog.
Looking for dog training or other pawsome tips? Check out our AskPerro series now!
Updated: December 9, 2017.