How to look after a dog
Dogs are known as the ultimate companions. They’ve been relied on for friendship and loyalty for centuries.
But while a dog can reward you with years of dedication and joy, they need love and care in return. Owning a dog is a big commitment.
To help keep your dog as happy and healthy as possible, and to give those thinking of getting a dog an idea of what’s involved, we’ve answered some common dog care questions.
What should you feed a dog?
Dogs need a well-balanced diet that is suitable for their age, lifestyle and health status. A good quality dry dog food selected to match your dog’s age should suffice, but speak to your vet if you’re unsure 1.
Some human food is poisonous to dogs though, such as chocolate and onions 2.
Dogs also need constant access to fresh water or they may become ill within hours.
How often should you feed a dog?
At least once a day, unless advised otherwise by your vet. Adjust how much you feed your dog so that it doesn’t become overweight.
How can you make sure your dog gets enough exercise?
Exercise is an essential part of looking after your dog, and they’ll need regular walks and play to keep them fit and interested. Without enough exercise a dog can start having behavioural problems . How much exercise your dog needs depends on its age, breed and size.
Do different dogs need different types of exercise?
Yes. Greyhounds, for example, are sprinters, so may benefit from two short off-lead runs per day, while terriers were bred to sniff out vermin, so will enjoy being allowed to sniff and dig. Other dogs, such as border collies, need mental stimulation, so agility or obedience classes may keep them switched on and engaged 3.
Do you need to groom a dog?
Yes. Dogs benefit from grooming, as it removes excess hair and dirt. Blue Cross recommends that you groom smooth-coated dogs every week, and long-haired dogs more frequently 3.
Do you need to microchip a dog?
Yes. It’s a legal requirement for your dog to wear a collar and tag, and to be microchipped. This tiny chip inserted below your dog’s skin makes sure that a dog warden can reunite you with your dog it if goes astray.
How do you keep your dog healthy?
Make sure your dog has all the required vaccinations, parasite treatments (such as fleas and worms) and that they are spayed or neutered. The RSPCA recommends that dog owners check their pet daily for any signs of injury or illness, and take their dog for an annual check-up with the vet 4.
Veterinary bills can be expensive, so consider signing up for Pet Insurance to protect yourself from hefty fees.
For further tips on how to recognise when your dog is unwell, and how to care for them, read our article on caring for a sick dog.