Do clip their nails. Most dogs need their nails trimmed every two to three weeks. If done frequently, removing the tip of the nail should not cause any bleeding or discomfort. A dog whose nails have not been cared for in a long time, or who has dark nail beds that make it difficult to see where the quick (blood vessels) begin, may need a professional to handle this task.
Don’t feed them table scraps. While you might already know chocolate contains the chemical Theobromine which can be deadly to pets, you might not know such common things as avocados, grapes, onions, chives, macadamia nuts, garlic, yeast dough, milk, raisins, a variety of uncooked or undercooked meats, and alcoholic or caffeinated beverages can induce a host of ugly side effects, including vomiting and diarrhea, paralysis, or even death.
Do make them a cave. Whether it’s a crate, or other safe place, it’s important that dogs have a space all their own they can retreat to when they need a break from the family or a secure place to rest. Crate training has the added advantage of helping puppies to learn to hold their bladders, as they will not want to go where they sleep.
Do purge their anal glands. If you see scooting, excessive licking, or straining when your pup goes to the bathroom, it’s probably time for his or her anal glands to be purged. If you don’t have the stomach for this, your veterinarian or groomer will usually perform the task for a minimal fee.
Don’t ignore your dog’s need for stimulation. Dogs are active, social, pack animals. A pup left alone for hours on end will find methods to entertain itself, sometimes in destructive ways (such as chewing up the furniture). Consider purchasing interactive toys from your local pet store, socialize your pet with other people and animals, and make sure your pup gets plenty of exercise.
Do purchase a collar and ID tag. It’s an unfortunate fact that every year thousands of dogs are lost, never to be reunited with their owners. Even if your pet is an indoor dog or resides in a fenced-in yard, they should still be tagged with your name, address, and phone number. Your pup’s collars should be loose enough for you to slip two fingers under, but tight enough that it will not slip over his or her head. Avoid chain collars and prongs (unless you are training) as these can catch and injure your dog. If your dog is a runner, consider getting him or her microchipped.
Don’t skip recommended vaccines. Canine parvovirus, canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus (hepatitis), and rabies vaccines protect from the most common and serious illnesses your pup could contract and are recommended for all dogs. There are other vaccines available, the need for which will be determined by the types of activities your dog participates in and your geographic location.
Do consider having your pup spayed or neutered. Unless you are intending to breed your animal (which should only be done by breeders who are willing to do the work to ensure the health and safety of all the animals involved), having your pup fixed has the added advantage of reducing the risk of certain types of cancers, and making male pups less aggressive, less inclined to roam, and less inclined to mark their territory. Neutering also helps to reduce pet overpopulation.
A microchip the size of a grain of rice can be inserted using a needle into the shoulder/ neck area of your pup. The microchip contains an ID number which can be read by scanners found at most veterinarian offices, kennels, and shelters. Owners register their pet’s ID number and contact information with the host company, who alerts them when their lost pet has been found. Most vets will microchip your animal for less than $50.