Cost – The annual cost of a small dog—including food, veterinary care, toys and license—is $420. Make that $620 for a medium dog and $780 for a large pooch. This figure doesn’t include capital expenses for spay/neuter surgery, collar and leash, carrier and crate.
Note: Make sure you have all your supplies before you bring your dog home.
Feeding – Puppies 8 to 12 weeks old need four meals a day. – Feed puppies three to six months old three meals a day. – Feed puppies six months to one year two meals a day. – When your dog reaches his first birthday, one meal a day is usually enough. – For some dogs, including larger canines or those prone to bloat, it’s better to feed two smaller meals.
Premium-quality dry food provides a well-balanced diet for adult dogs and may be mixed with water, broth or canned food. Your dog may enjoy cottage cheese, cooked egg, fruits and vegetables, but these additions should not total more than ten percent of his daily food intake.
Puppies should be fed a high-quality, brand-name puppy food. Please limit “people food,” however, because it can result in vitamin and mineral imbalances, bone and teeth problems and may cause very picky eating habits and obesity. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times, and be sure to wash food and water dishes frequently.
Exercise – Dogs need exercise to burn calories, stimulate their minds, and keep healthy. Exercise also tends to help dogs avoid boredom, which can lead to destructive behaviors. Supervised fun and games will satisfy many of your pet’s instinctual urges to dig, herd, chew, retrieve and chase.
Individual exercise needs vary based on breed or breed mix, sex, age and level of health—but a couple of walks around the block every day and ten minutes in the backyard probably won’t cut it. If your dog is a 6- to 18-month adolescent, or if she is an active breed or mixed-breed from the sporting, herding, hound or terrier groups, her requirements will be relatively high.
– Puppies should be vaccinated with a combination vaccine (called a “5-in-1”) at two, three and four months of age, and then once annually. This vaccine protects the puppy from distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus, and par influenza. A puppy’s vaccination program cannot be finished before four months of age.
– If you have an unvaccinated dog older than four or five months, he will need a series of two vaccinations given two to three weeks apart, followed by a yearly vaccination.
– Puppy vaccination and socialization should go together. Many veterinarians recommend that new owners take their puppies to socialization classes, beginning at 8 to 9 weeks of age. At this age, they should have received at least their first series of vaccines.
Heartworm – This parasite lives in the heart and is passed from dog to dog by mosquitoes. Heartworm infections can be fatal. Your dog should have a blood test for heartworm every spring—this is crucial for detecting infections from the previous year. A once-a-month pill given during mosquito season will protect your dog. If you travel south with your pet during the winter, your dog should be on the preventive medicine during the trip. In some warmer regions, veterinarians recommend preventive heartworm medication throughout the year.
Dental Health – While many of us may object to our pet’s bad breath, we should pay attention to what it may be telling us. Bad breath is most commonly an indication that your dog is in need of a dental check up. Dental plaque caused by bacteria results in a foul smell that requires professional treatment. After a professional cleaning, the teeth and gums may be maintained in a healthy state by brushing the teeth regularly, feeding a specially formulated dental diet and treats, and avoiding table scraps. Your veterinarian can give you more tips on minimizing dental disease and bad breath.
You can clean your canine’s teeth with a dog toothpaste or a baking-soda-and-water paste once or twice a week. Use a child’s soft toothbrush, a gauze pad or a piece of nylon pantyhose stretched over your finger.
Some dogs are prone to periodontal disease, a pocket of infection between the tooth and the gum. This painful condition can result in tooth loss and spread infection to the rest of the body. Veterinarians can clean the teeth as a regular part of your dog’s health program.