Regular socialisation and training, from as early as eight weeks of age, is an important factor in raising a well-behaved and socially acceptable dog. New puppy owners will benefit from enrolling their pups in a Puppy Pre-school class as soon as they bring their four-legged friend home. The RSPCA Pet Dog Manners class may also benefit your 4 legged friend!
The RSPCA recommends that you do not purchase a dog from markets or places where large numbers of dogs are kept for sale. Dogs sold from these establishments are very rarely examined by a veterinarian, and therefore may not be entirely healthy. Never purchase a puppy that looks unwell and if you are concerned about the welfare of the animal, contact the RSPCA Inspectorate.
Combing and brushing dogs regularly is essential, particularly for longhaired breeds. It is best to establish this habit early in a dog’s life so that grooming becomes part of the routine. Grooming removes dust, dead skin, loose hairs, grass seeds, and tangles. It also assists to shorten the coat moult, which occurs every autumn and spring. Brushing helps keep your dog cool in summer months and reduces the amount of hair your dog sheds. Dogs with short coats also require some brushing.
Safety is also a consideration. In September 2018 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a statement warning about the risk of tremors and seizures in animals treated with products containing drugs in the isoxazoline class, which are used to combat fleas and ticks. However, the FDA said it still considers the products "safe and effective".
Giardia intestinalis and Giardia duodenalis are single celled protozoan parasites, which inhabit the affected dog’s small intestine, causing clinical signs of Gardiasis. The protozoa attach themselves to the intestines and multiply. They may be directly swept through the intestines and appear in the infected dog’s faeces or they may develop into a tougher more durable ‘cyst’ form, which is again passed in the dogs faeces but is able to survive for long periods in the external environment. Dogs are infected by ingesting the cysts from contaminated water and the environment. Infected dogs may not show any clinical signs of Gardiasis, but they can still shed the protozoa from their systems, spreading the infection to other healthy animals. Infection and subsequent illness is more commonly seen in younger animals. Signs of infection include: chronic or intermittent diarrhoea that may appear ‘fatty’ and slimy, accompanied by a very foul smell. Weight loss is also possible if left untreated.
Keep your dog busy by prolonging his mealtime with a number of interactive toys such as Kongs, treatballs, or Bustercubes (treats can be easily pushed in but will engage your dog for hours trying to get them out). Also try hiding part of his meal around the yard to stimulate his natural foraging instincts. Treats and toys are available at the RSPCA online shop.
Fleas are a common external parasite associated with dogs. They cause severe itching and inflammation of the skin, leading to dermatitis. They are the intermediate host for the Tapeworm most common in dogs. If fleas are a problem, it is necessary to treat all animals in the household (both cats and dogs) to clean the environment. You may also want to ‘flea bomb’ the house to remove any eggs and to stop the cycle. Preventative programs are best achieved using “spot on” products that have a prolonged residual effect, usually 30 days. However it is strongly advised to consult your Vet or chat with the RSPCA's friendly Vet nurse team for free advice about the most suitable product for your pet.
Puppy Roundworms can infect humans. To prevent this infection, puppies should be wormed regularly throughout their first year of life, and owners should be thorough with their own personal hygiene after having interacted with the dog. Tapeworms, Hookworms, and Whipworms can also infect dogs, and your veterinary surgeon can advise when to worm the dog.