A Dog Maintenance Checklist
We all know that owning a pet is a big responsibility. Think of all the ways you maintain your own body, mind, and overall health on a daily basis. Owning a pet is basically doing those same things for a being that can’t do it for themselves! Are you unsure about all the important ways to care for your dog? We’ve got your dog maintenance checklist covered.
- Grooming: Coat, Nails, Ears, and Teeth
We all have our own self-grooming routines each day from showers, to cleansers, to teeth and hair brushing, moisturizers, and so on. Grooming a dog is no different—well, maybe it doesn’t always need to be a daily event, but their bodies require maintenance too!
All that fur needs to be properly cared for. If you have a particularly long-haired breed, taking them to the groomer on a regular basis is a worthwhile consideration. Regardless of their fur type, routine brushing is important to rid their coats of dirt and dander buildup. Dogs also need baths, but luckily not as often as we do. Typically, every 1-2 months for a bath is a good idea, but you can consult with your vet on the best bathing routine for your dog’s specific skin and fur. Using cleansers too frequently could strip the skin of essential oils. Grooming wipes are also a good idea between baths if your pup engages in a particularly “dirty” activity like a roll in the mud or a trip to a sandy beach.
They also need regular nail trimmings throughout the year. Walking your dog on the pavement will help to file down nails and they may not need nail trimmings as often as if they only walk in the grass. If you are unsure about how to clip your dog’s nails yourself, definitely consult with your vet, or simply bring them in for a nail appointment.
Your vet should be consulted on all grooming needs, including the best ear cleaner to use, which should be approved or formulated specifically for use on dogs. Regular ear cleaning will help with dirt buildup or debris that could cause infections.
A yearly teeth cleaning is usually a good idea to ensure dental health, however, sometimes subjecting a dog to anesthesia is a concern, especially for older pets. This is something to talk to your vet about, but if you do decide to forego teeth cleanings, your dog’s teeth must still be maintained and cared for. Regardless of how often you can get your dog in for a teeth cleaning, if they will allow you to brush their teeth then do this on a regular basis with a dog toothbrush and toothpaste. Chewing on certain types of bones and even vegetables like carrots are great natural teeth cleaners. They assist in scraping plaque and tartar buildup, and they have lots of other nutritional benefits too!
When taking your dog’s grooming needs into consideration, always make sure that the products you are using are specifically for dogs and have come from a reputable brand. Don’t use your own shampoos, nail clippers, ear drops, or toothpaste—the ingredients could be potentially harmful and toxic to your pup’s system since they were not formulated for their needs.
Daily exercise for any dog is a must, regardless of breed and age. Of course, younger more active breeds will need greater amounts of exercise than an older less active breed. Regular walks are great for all dogs, though they will vary in length and amounts depending on the dog. Walks give structure and help you and your dog to bond, creating trust since you are their handler. When walking your dog, always ensure you keep them on a leash unless it is a safe off-leash area. If you are strolling through the neighborhood or a park, a leash is a must to keep everyone safe—your dog, pet parents, and other dogs included.
Off-leash time is important too, so if your dog enjoys dog parks that’s a great way for them to socialize, play, and get their exercise in. There are tons of different ways that you can help your dog exercise in a fun atmosphere. Here’s our list of 6 summer exercise ideas for your dog! Learn about their specific exercise needs and implement a regimen that will best suit them.
- Nutrition, supplements, and hydration
Is your dog eating quality dog food? Don’t just buy what is cheap or convenient or take the word of someone who doesn’t know your dog like you do. Research and asking professionals are key when it comes to your pet’s nutrition needs. Take their allergies, specific ailments, breed, weight, and age into account along with your budget to come up with the best meal plan for your pal.
Always make sure your dog has regular access to water, which is especially important in the hot summer months, so they can stay adequately hydrated.
If your furry friend has any minor health concerns, or even if you want to be preventative, supplementation is a great idea. Wonder Paws has a whole line of supplements fit for superheroes! Our supplements are beneficial for a range of your dog’s needs. Do you implement vitamins into your own health routine? Your dog might benefit from that same boost. Learn more about the powers of supplementation in our post that discusses the reasons your dog should take a multivitamin.
- Vet checkups
Annual or bi-annual checkups are important, even if your dog is in perfectly good health. The same way humans should go to the doctor each year, dogs also need to be checked out to ensure there have been no changes in their health, and if there have been you can immediately take action to address it, however minor. You want them to be feeling great and healthy as can be after all!
Aside from regular checkups, you should always have your dog established with a veterinarian doctor who you are able to consult with about questions or concerns, and of course in the event of an emergency.
Regular training sessions are so important when it comes to safety and appropriate behavior. Dogs do not automatically know which behaviors are acceptable or what we expect of them—they have to be taught just like anyone else. And if what they have learned is not regularly reinforced then they will slip back into old habits or even start to form new potentially undesirable ones. Not only will training make you a more confident and capable handler, but it will also instill confidence in your dog! Training is great physical and mental stimulation and gives your dog the opportunity to work their minds. Aside from the fact that regular training is responsible pet parenting, it’s another bonding experience between you and your dog that builds trust!
Whether it be with you or other doggy friends, playtime adds fun to a dog’s life! Take the time to learn what games and activities your dog likes best when it comes to playtime and set aside some time each day! It’s especially good for the mental well-being of a dog to have positive interactions with their human, and it keeps them from getting bored or developing behavioral issues. Now you don’t need an excuse to get out there and play!
- Clean and safe environment
We wouldn’t want to subject ourselves to mold, dirt, unclean dishes and bedding, right? And surely, we wouldn’t want to find ourselves in a situation that makes us uncomfortable or feel like our safety is in jeopardy. Your dog values these same things. Don’t let their bed collect dirt, leaves, slobber, or even their own waste. And don’t continually put their food into a bowl that hasn’t been cleaned. A clean environment directly relates to our health, and I’m sure we all agree that our dogs deserve clean and healthy living quarters too.
Just as we value cleanliness in our environment, safety is most important of all. Whether you’re keeping your dog safe from possible toxins like harmful foods and chemicals or if you’re keeping them safe from other dogs, creatures, or humans that could be a potential threat, always advocate for your best friend’s best interests!
Shay Siegel is a young adult author, freelance writer, and editor from Long Island, NY. She has a BA from Tulane University and an MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Always a lover of animals, Shay had several cats growing up. She's now a dog mom to the snuggliest rescue pit bull, Bernie. She enjoys writing on a variety of topics and sharing her love and knowledge of animals with others!