This means spending time every day on his outings. It also means making regularly a few gestures that will ensure him a good hygiene and enable you to discover what could prove to be abnormal signs warning you of a disease.
Outings rank first in the well-being you should provide to your animal. As a sociable animal, he does need to meet other living beings and explore a territory. Whether he lives in an apartment or a detached house, a five-minute hygienic walk every morning and night is not enough, even if in the day he may have a garden at his disposal. A one-hour walk every day will enable him to do his business, expend his energy and integrate into a pseudo-pack with the other dogs on the block. The ideal thing to do would be to take him on a walk leash-free far away from thoroughfares. Every weekend, a big two-hour-long outing in parks or forests will allow the dog to have a change from his daily environment. An aged or sick animal will be content with having a hygienic walk twice a day. For a sporting dog such as the Border Collie, the daily exercise load necessary for his proper development will be markedly higher.
A well-trained dog should be able to walk on a leash and, if he is unleashed, to come back to heel as soon as he is given the command. If it is not so, dog training clubs should prove able to inculcate these bases.
On returning from a walk, the dog should be systematically checked. In summertime, you should check if the leg pads have not been damaged by anything prickly or cutting (brambles, pieces of glass...). You should also check that a spikelet is not stuck in the interdigital spaces or in the ears. Coming from grasses, and so from most meadow plants, spikelets have the form of microscopic harpoons that embed themselves into the tissues they encounter and create serious lesions. In wintertime, if the dog has walked in snowy places, risks of cracks on the pads are high because of the aggressiveness of the salts deposited on roads. The legs should then be rinsed with lukewarm water.
Ears are the favorite place of spikelets. You must then take them off the auditory meatus (if they have already got there) with tweezers. This delicate maneuver is often painful and, in that case, requires a visit to the veterinarian. It is recommended to shave the inner side of floppy ears in springtime to prevent spikelets from getting attached to them.
In the affected regions, you should check that the dog has caught no ticks, parasites that may transmit serious diseases such as piroplasmosis.
In summertime, if the dog likes to bathe, you’d better rinse his coat. Whether in a river or in seawater, particles get deposited on hair and may be irritating.
It should be moist and fresh at any time in the day. However, it may get dry during sleep. It must then be moistened again when the dog wakes up. Any presence of crusts, cracks, significant or mucopurulent discharges is the sign of ailments that the veterinarian must examine.
Drooping or not depending on the breed, his chops should be clean and relatively hermetic. You should then watch for the appearance of cracks or red blotches. Teeth should be white and have minimum tartar. The gums should be pink: any red line on the edge of the teeth is pathological and reveals a painful inflammation which may cause a loss of appetite in the dog as he is no longer able to catch food or crunch it.
Even though dogs are rarely cooperative when it comes to handling their mouth, tooth cleaning is recommended several times a week. It also enables to fight against bad breath. What works best is using a toothbrush and toothpaste specially designed for dogs. He may also be given dental bars which help to slow down tartar formation through their mechanical action on teeth when the dog chews them. To be effective, these bars should be given on a daily basis. Dry Health Nutrition foods are specially designed to contribute to preserving buccodental hygiene, especially in small-sized breed dogs whose jaw and tooth shapes may predispose them to these specific affections.
The eye should be bright and moist, with pink mucous membranes. No discharge should be visible in the inside corner. It is quite possible to clean the dog’s eyes with an eye solution. To do so, you must raise the dog’s head, open his upper eyelid and deposit a few drops in the eye. Any excess solution flowing out is to be recovered with a compress. So as not to frighten the dog, the bottle should be brought closer from behind. You should pay attention to the expiry date of the solution used as well as to its shelf life.
There are two types of ears in the dog: floppy or upright. Floppy ears should be checked more often: as it is, closure of the external auditory meatus by the pavilion does not allow for proper ventilation of the meatus. Ear cleaning should be done regularly. With floppy ears, cleaning may be done once or twice a week, and every fortnight with upright ears. To do so, you should use a solution suitable for dog ears. You should push the tip into the meatus, there is no risk of eardrum perforation, since the meatus is L-shaped. A jet of the product is then instilled. The tip is taken out and the ear base is massaged for 30 seconds. Finally, the meatus is wiped dry with a piece of cotton or a compress without sticking them in. It is recommended to shave the inside face of floppy ears in springtime to prevent spikelets from getting attached to them.
Regular monitoring of male and female genitals enables to check their cleanliness: any presence of discharge should be controlled by a veterinarian. The anus should be clean and show no sign of diarrhea.
There are two types of claws in the dog: dewclaws and finger claws. Growth is continuous and normal activity of the dog should ensure finger claw abrasion. If it is not the case (claws then make a noise when the dog walks), you should cut them with a dog nail cutter. However, it is necessary to preserve blood vessel integrity at claw base: a pink triangle shows through clear claws. The technique is the same with dewclaws. These are often covered up with hair: they should not be forgotten because, if they become ingrown, they get painful and cause wounds.
Dogs may benefit from many vaccines, but these are not all necessary. It’s up to the veterinary to draw up the immunization schedule according to the risks he has identified. Whatever the targeted disease, the vaccine provides protection only for a limited time. Vaccinations must then be continued throughout the dog’s life. A vaccination appointment should therefore be regularly made with your veterinarian.
Fleas and ticks that sometimes convey diseases reappear regularly and especially in springtime. Many products are available on the market: sprays, spot-ons, collars. They enable to fight effectively against the highly detrimental effects on the animal’s health of these parasites that can also affect man’s health. As for worming, it should be systematically and regularly performed according to a protocol defined by the veterinarian, because the choice of the product depends on the animal’s size, age and lifestyle.
Bath frequency is different according to hair texture: very short hair is washed only when it is dirty, short hair twice a year on average and long hair approximately every three months. Small dogs may be washed in a basin or a bathtub for babies and large dogs in the bathtub or outdoors, if the external temperature permits. A rubber mat will prevent uncontrolled slipping which may injure or frighten the dog. Lukewarm water should be used, along with a special shampoo for the canine skin. You’d better use veterinary shampoos because the pH of the dog’s skin is different from that of man. The coat should be brushed before starting the bath to untangle hair knots. After having moistened the dog’s whole body, all you have to do is to let the shampoo foam, being careful with his head and ears. Rinsing should be thorough, followed with a good wiping.
Whatever the dog’s coat type, hairs grow, die and are renewed. Dogs living outdoors undergo molting twice a year, in spring and autumn, corresponding to the change in luminosity. Dogs living indoors are less exposed to changes in luminosity: therefore, they lose their hairs all year round, with two more important periods in spring and autumn. Maintenance through brushing and bathing enables to rid the coat of dead hairs. Depending on the hair type, the frequency and equipment differ.
For certain types of hair, you should not hesitate to leave your dog in the care of a professional groomer.
Passing a rubber brush the wrong way enables to get dandruff and dead hairs off. Then, you should pass a bristle brush in the direction of hair growth all over the dog’s body. Brushing will be complete after you have lustered the coat with a moistened chamois leather.
Because of the coat density (existence of undercoat and guard coat hair), the dog should be brushed every two days. A carder should be passed the wrong way to get off as many hairs and dead cells as possible and to thin out the undercoat. A bristle brush passed in the direction of hair growth enables to remove all the elements that have previously come off. A big-tooth comb may be used on tail and leg hair. The coat of hard-haired dogs, such as the Hard Haired Dachshund or the West Highland White Terrier, should be thinned out 4 or 5 times a year with a thinning knife. It enables to pull out dead hairs stuck between the knife and the thumb. This hair removal is not painful when it is done properly, by pulling out in the direction of hair growth.
Long h air requires daily untangling and brushing. With Afghan Hounds, for instance, this may take up to one hour a day. Brushing in the direction of hair growth with a carder enables to remove knots and undercoat hair. You should proceed gently so as not to hurt the dog. With silky-haired dogs (Yorkshire Terrier, Afghan Hound...), you may use a bristle brush to luster their coat. In dogs with an abundant undercoat (Long Haired Collie...), impurities may be removed with a metal brush. Hairs behind the dog’s hocks are finally untangled with a big-tooth comb. A pair of scissors enables to trim out the coat and remove the hairs that most of the time will form knots and retain impurities (hocks, breast, interdigital spaces and pads).