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So you have decided to adopt a dog; what happens next?

Published October 05. 2009 02:55PM

You've decided to adopt a dog. Now what?

The American Humane Association has provided new dog owners a list of dog care tips to keep Fido happy, healthy, and safe.

Identification: Tagging and microchipping are essential to help a dog find his way home if lost. The tag should indicate the dog's name, as well as your name, address, home phone and cell phone numbers. Microchips are miniature electronic capsules embedded under the pet's skin. They are safe, effective and provide excellent backup identification in case a pet's collar and tags are lost.

Spay/Neuter: It is estimated that approximately 3.7 million animals are euthanized at shelters each year because there are not enough homes for them. Having your pet spayed or neutered ensures that you will not add to this burden. Spaying or neutering will also eliminate the risk of certain diseases and cancers of the reproductive organs, as well as reduce the risk of behavior problems such as aggression and territorial marking.

Veterinary Exams: To keep your dog healthy, be sure to take him to the vet for an annual exam. The vet can detect signs of a problem such as dental disease or heart problems before it becomes serious, and prescribe appropriate treatment.

Vaccinations: To protect your pet from getting a serious disease, keep his vaccinations up to date. This is important even if your dog mostly stays inside. All dogs should be vaccinated for distemper, parvovirus and rabies. Depending on where you live, vaccinations for other common diseases may also be recommended.

Feeding: Make sure your dog eats high-quality food every day and has fresh water available at all times.

Training and Behavior: Most behavior problems like constant barking or getting into the trash can be solved with a little training. Don't give up; contact an animal trainer or behavior consultant for help.

Exercise: Spend quality time with your pet every day. Playing with and walking your dog will allow you both to bond. It will also relieve your dog's boredom, which can lead to behavior problems.

Grooming: Pets need regular brushing, bathing and dental care, and breeds with long fur require frequent trips to the groomer.

Dog-Proofing Your Home:

• Use childproof latches on cabinets.

• Place medications, cosmetics, cleaners, chemicals and detergents on high shelves.

• Keep trash cans covered or inside a latched cabinet.

• Keep food out of reach (even if the food isn't harmful, the wrapper could be).

• Keep the toilet lid closed to prevent your dog from drinking harmful cleaning chemicals.

• Place electrical and phone wires out of reach.

• Put away children's toys and games.

• Move houseplants out of reach they may be fatal if ingested.

• Clean antifreeze from the garage floor and driveway one taste can be lethal.

• Keep all sharp objects and tools out of reach.

Open Truck Beds: Don't let your dog ride in an open truck bed. An estimated 100,000 dogs die each year by being bumped from truck beds onto the road and into traffic. Also, do not leash your pet inside a truck bed. Many dogs have been strangled when bumped over the sides of trucks and left helplessly dangling. If your dog must ride in the back of the truck, put him in a crate secured to the truck bed.

Unattended Pets in Your Vehicle: Dogs are much more susceptible to heat stroke than humans. Temperatures inside a parked car can quickly reach levels that are lethal to your dog, even when the outdoor temperature is moderate. With an outdoor temperature of 72 degrees, the temperature in a parked car can reach 102 degrees in just 30 minutes.

Information provided by the American Humane Association's 2009 shelter press kit.

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