Puppy Care (Part 5)
Treats and Doggie Snacks
A visit to the ‘pet aisle’ at any supermarket reveals a tremendous variety of doggie treats, snacks and so on. Remember, all of the packaging is deigned to appeal to you the shopper! Most of the treats are just low quality ‘stuff’ coated with artificial ingredients, preservatives, colourants etc. and are not particularly good for your dog.
Chocolate and Dogs.
Do not feed chocolate – NOT EVER - even if is sold as ‘dog chocolate’! The reason for this was explained in an issue of “Our Dogs” as follows: “Human” chocolate contains the chemical theobromide which is extremely poisonous to dogs. Whilst it is conceivable that a large breed of dog may be able to eat a tiny piece of milk chocolate safely, be aware that just a small amount but the same amount of dark, expensive continental chocolate (which actually contains more theobromide) can be fatal in a dog the size of a very rough collie pup.
Theobromide passes from the stomach and into the blood stream quickly, causing rapid heartbeat, and strong muscle contractions which often progress into convulsions and fits. Increased urine output causes increased drinking which leads to vomiting and a very ill dog in great pain. There is no known antidote to theobromide poisoning.
Because you just don’t know what is actually in the so-called doggie chocolate that is available, we prefer treats that are far more healthy and basic. Here are our favorites:
1. Hard biscuits - these are good for cleaning teeth and promoting health gums. Examples are Bonito biscuits and Winalot Shapes.
2. Smaller biscuits that make good treats are Pedigree Gravy Bones.
3. Other treats that help chewing and keep teeth clean are rawhide strips, twists and knots.
Be careful not to overdo 1 and 2 above – you’ll be surprised how they can put weight on. Keep a plentiful supply of 3 above in. They are much tastier to chew than a chair leg!
Giving the right sort of bones is very good for the dog, but please observe the following simple rules:
- · Never let your dog have chicken, turkey or any such bones. They are dangerous and can splinter.
- · Never give any cooked bones, ever. They can break and splinter.
- · Raw knuckle bones are ok, but only when supervised.
- · Marrow bones are also good, but avoid the ones from pet shops that come with dubious fillings. Good pet shops sell sterilized pieces of marrow bones that are great for adding your own filling. Smearing cheese on the inside can keep a dog busy for a while!
Treats as Training Rewards!
It’s important to remember that a dog learns best when:
- · In a happy, positive state of mind.
- · By receiving immediate feedback through a reward. The concept of immediacy is important so that the puppy can associate the reward with the desired behaviour. Puppies have a short attention span.
- Rewards don’t have to be tidbits of food, a reward can also be verbal praise, petting or playing with a toy. Or all three!
When using food as rewards, it’s important to use small amounts of food that can be concealed in the hand, and produced at the optimum time (within a couple of seconds). For example:
- · Dried dog food (kibble).
- · Small strips of cooked chicken.
- · Small cubes of cheese.
- · Tiny pieces of cocktail sausage.
- · ‘Coachies’ training treats.
- Whichever you use, be careful you don’t end up over-feeding your dog!
Teeth and Teething
Your pup will have a set of very sharp ‘milk’ or ‘baby’ teeth to begin with, but at about 4 – 6 months of age these will be lost as a new set of adult teeth push through.
Teething does not normally cause problems, but it is worth bearing in mind that:
- Around this time, pups mouth can be quite sore, so be careful how you handle the mouth and the type of games you play.
- Pup will need to chew to help the adult teeth come through, and to get relieve from the discomfort associated with it.
Our advice is to ensure a plentiful supply of suitable things to chew on: Rawhide chews, ‘Nylabone’, hard rubber toys and so on are all good.
Be prepared for lots of chewing during teething! This soft fabric covered toy is ideal when the baby teeth are being dislodged by the adult teeth.
A home-made teething chew can me made as follows – get an old clean face flannel, soak it in cold water and wring it out, twisting into a horse-shoe shape. Put it in the freezer until it freezes hard. The resulting hard, icey item makes a great chew for a teething pup because as they chew the ice melts and has a soothing effect! At teething time we usually keep two or three of these in the freezer.
As baby teeth get dislodged by the adult teeth pushing through, soft fabric covered and knotted rope type toys are good.