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Dog Care Questions

How good is a dog’s hearing ability?

Dogs have a great sense of hearing. In fact, it is their second most developed sense (next to smell). Dogs can hear much sharper than humans. Not only can they detect sounds that are much too faint for humans, but they also can hear sounds pitched at frequencies above or below a human’s range. Dogs can hear in the range of 67 HZ to 45 kHZ (compared to a high range of 20 kHZ in humans).

How far should I walk my dog?

There is not one single right answer to this question. Some dogs will do fine with a two-block walk, while others can go two miles. A good rule of thumb is that the shorter the dog’s legs, the less distance he can go. Smaller dogs, like pugs or toys, won’t be able to go as far as large dogs, like golden retrievers. A dog’s breed is important as well. Short-legged breeds, like bulldogs and daschunds, won’t be able to walk as far as breeds with longer-legged builds. The walking environment is also a factor. Hot weather will not only make a dog more prone to overheating, but it can heat cement up enough that it could be painful for your dog’s paws. Dogs can also walk farther on dirt trails than on sidewalks or asphalt, because rough concrete can be hard on the pads of their feet.

Your dog’s age and general health are important as well. If your dog doesn’t usually get much exercise, you won’t want to start him off with a three-mile jog. Gradually extend the length of your walks to build his endurance. Arthritis, heart disease, and a number of other health concerns could also affect the length of your walks. If your dog has health problems, discuss how far he can walk and how much exercise he should get with your veterinarian.

In the long run, your best bet is to observe your dog while you’re walking. When he starts panting excessively and acts tired, then he’s walked far enough. This is also a good way to keep an eye on your dog’s health. If he used to go three miles with you and now only walks a few blocks, you should consult your veterinarian. It could be a sign of a health problem.

What age can my puppy go to the groomer for a trim?

The only problem with taking a puppy to the groomer is that he’s exposed to a lot of other dogs, both while being groomed and while in the waiting room. To avoid the possibility of infection, you should wait to have your puppy groomed until he’s completed all of his puppy vaccinations.

These are usually finished when a puppy is around six months old. If you have any questions about how to groom your pup or clip his nails on your own until he’s old enough to visit a professional groomer, your veterinarian can advise you.

How often should I bathe my dog?

The simplest answer to this question is, whenever he needs it. Dogs who spend the most of their time indoors will not need much bathing, while dogs who are outside a lot, romping in the mud and trees (and possibly other smelly things) will need to be bathed more often. Also, some dogs’ coats will accumulate grease and oil more quickly than others.

Breeds prone to oily skin and other skin conditions, such as Cocker Spaniels, benefit from regular bathing about every four weeks. Breeds with a thick, double coat, like huskies and chows, only need bathing about three or four times a year. Washing a dog with an undercoat more often than this can make the coat softer and less waterproof and insulating.

In general, you can use your common sense to judge when your dog needs bathing. If you’re concerned about causing dry skin, there are moisturizing treatments available at most pet stores, which you rub into your dog’s skin after you shampoo him. If your dog seems uncomfortable or shows signs of skin problems, consult your veterinarian.

Should I shave my thick-furred dog in the summer?

My Alaskan Malamute seems so hot and miserable in the summer. Should I have her shaved?

You’re right to be concerned about your dog’s comfort during hot weather. Northern breeds with thick fur like Malamutes and Huskies were developed for cold climates, not the 90 and even 100 degree weather some areas experience in the summer. However, some hair can be beneficial in hot weather, working to insulate dogs from the heat and shield their skin from the sun. Remember, dogs don’t use sweat to cool themselves the way people do, so they don’t need to have exposed skin in order to stay cool.

That being said, if a dog has too much hair, the hair can stop being beneficial in hot weather and start retaining too much heat. You may be able to thin the coat out enough by brushing your dog thoroughly and consistently with a wire or “rake” type brush designed for heavy-coated breeds. These brushes can remove some of the fuzzy undercoat layer of fur, sometimes enough to make dogs comfortable in warm weather. If she still seems too hot, shaving won’t hurt her a bit. Just be careful to leave an inch or so of fur so that she still has some insulation and protection from sunburn.

Even if your dog is shaved, you’ll want to be careful with her when temperatures get really high. Don’t leave her in a parked car or leave her outside unsupervised for long periods of time. When she’s outdoors, she needs shade and plenty of water. Some people buy the drip-system “mister” hoses used to water plants and set them out for their dogs on hot days.

You can even freeze water bottles full of water and put them where she lies to keep her cool. And, as with any dog, watch for signs of heatstroke. If your dog is panting, has a staring or anxious expression, does not obey commands, has warm, dry skin, a high fever, and a rapid heartbeat or is vomiting, lower her body temperature quickly with cool water–either by immersion or by spraying thoroughly with a garden hose–and call your veterinarian immediately.

Who should do my dog’s surgery and what should I expect afterward?

Ruptured cruciate ligaments will not heal on their own. They will only get worse. If your current veterinarian feels confident completing the surgery, then he or she can do it. Otherwise, you can ask for a referral to a board-certified surgeon to complete the procedure.

This injury is just like what happens to athletes. It makes the knee joint unstable, and it can cause quite a bit of pain.

After the surgery, you need to be ready for extended at-home care. It’s literally just as important as the surgery itself. You’ll need to keep your pet off the stairs for many weeks, and you’ll need to keep your pet calm and under control until the healing is done.

That means not leaving the pet loose in the house or yard unsupervised. Crates and leashes come in very handy. Your doctor will also show you some exercises you can do to get your pet back to normal.

It can be a big deal, but if you’re committed to your pet’s recovery, you can greatly impact the long-term success of the surgery.


Information courtesy of The American Animal Hospital Association.