Tips from professionals: How to take best care of your dog

All dog owners want a good and comfortable life for their dogs. They are part of the family, and just as they take care of us, we must take good care of them. Therefore, we have collected some good advice from a number of professionals who tell you what you as a dog owner should be aware of and give tips on how to best look after your dog. We cover both the vet's advice for active water-loving dogs, the tracking dog trainer's advice for mental activation and the dog nutrition consultant's tips for the dog's diet.

The vet's advice for water dogs and active dogs

Veterinarian Marika Kristensen with her dog Marley

Hotspot is a widespread irritating inflammatory condition that can occur in the dog's outer skin layer. It happens via an infection by bacteria, most often Staphylococci or Streptococci. These bacteria are normally found in the skin, but become a problem if a wound or cut becomes infected. It can be painful for the dog, and it is important to get treatment from the vet if the dog is affected several times or if the infection spreads to other parts of the body.

Hotspot often worsens when the dog is wet and humid for a long time. This is because the bacteria thrive extra well in a warm and moist environment. That is why it is important to get the dog dry quickly. If you have a very water-loving dog that loves to bathe in the sea or lake, then you should pay extra attention to hotspots.

"Hotspots are a whole category by themselves. Unfortunately, there are some dogs that just the moment they have been in a lake, the owner knows very well that now it will have a hotspot." – Marika Kristensen, Ølby Animal Hospital

wet border collie dogs by the lake

When we interviewed Veterinarian Marika Kristensen from Ølby Animal Hospital, she told us that her dog Marley often bathes in the lake, and that she therefore uses a Siccaro drying blanket to ensure that the fur is dried quickly and efficiently afterwards. The risk of hotspots is greatly reduced if you take care of the dog's fur and dry it properly after a trip in the water.

"The risk of hotspots, and skin problems in general, is greatly reduced if the dog is not wet for very long. The long-haired dog breeds, they are wet for a longer time, so therefore they have an advantage of being dried faster and the short-haired dog breeds, they may have more difficulty keeping themselves warm, because they do not have as much undercoat, so therefore have they benefit from a blanket. So really, I think all dog breeds benefit from a blanket.” – Marika Kristensen, Ølby Animal Hospital

two border collie dogs wearing siccaro drying blanket by the lake Marika also told us that a lot of active dogs can quickly get too cold in the body and stiff in the joints when they are outside for a long time in the cold autumn and winter months.

"In the cold autumn and winter months, it can be an advantage to keep your dog warm, both in relation to muscle injuries and joint injuries, etc. if you train or go hunting with your dog." – Marika Kristensen, Ølby Animal Hospital

After all, we know it from when we ourselves train or are active. You warm up and stretch and make sure you don't get too cold again too suddenly. For active outdoor dogs, there may be longer periods when the dog is warmed up, but is not active and therefore simply stands and gets cold until it has to start again. Here it can be an advantage to keep the dog's core warm, so that the body temperature is maintained throughout the training session, so that you thereby reduce the dog's risk of injury. two spaniel dogs wearing siccaro drying blanket in the back of the car "A blanket has both the function of keeping the dog's core warm, because it covers the dog's body, it just keeps the dog's core temperature up. And at the same time, at least with drying blankets, it also has the function of drying the dog faster, so that it does not emit as much heat from its surface either.” – Marika Kristensen, Ølby Animal Hospital

A blanket is also really smart to use in the car, where the dog can otherwise easily get cold, either because it sits outside in the cold car during the breaks, or because it can take some time before the car is warmed up when you drive home again.

Track dog trainers' advice for training and mental activation

Liselotte Nielsen is a double world champion in tracking dogs with her two German Shepherds, Thilde and Goa. Therefore, she has extensive experience with active dogs that spend a long time outdoors in all kinds of weather. She uses both the drying blanket to ensure a dry and warm dog, but also uses a lighter heating blanket to simply keep the dog's body warm in the time between activities. Here, she is particularly fond of the Recovery fleece blanket , which reflects the dog's own body heat and thereby helps keep muscles and joints warm.

“I am very happy with the new Recovery cover. Goa puts it on in the car when she has been on the track and training IGP obedience and jumping etc. So she is still warm when she later enters the Defense Department. Then when she's done, she puts it back on and only takes it off when we're home. It works absolutely fantastic as, unlike other blankets, it goes well down the chest and down the stomach and goes nicely up the neck and far down the lower back, which is often where the IGP dogs are very excited. The IGP dog sport is a hard physical sport for the dog, and it is of course very important that the dog does not have cold muscles etc., but is physically ready when it has to perform." – Liselotte Nielsen

But it's all not just about the body and the dog's physique, but also about the dog's mental needs.

Liselotte has a great focus on mental activation in her dogs and spends a lot of time training their noses. As a tracking dog, the nose is also the most important tool, but all dogs benefit from using their nose to solve tasks. It is both challenging and fun for the dog, while at the same time it is a way to tire the dog that is not exclusively physical. Liselotte Nielsen and the German shepherd Goa world champions in tracking dog tracks “If I have a day at work where I'm busy and I get home late and I'm tired, I have a big bag with a lot of balls that I go over and throw out into a field while she watches. Then she is allowed to run and get them. It tires her mentally because she has to search for them, and then we trade with a delicious treat every time she comes and delivers a ball.” – Liselotte Nielsen

If you have a restless dog, a dog that pulls, is wild and always full of too much energy, then mental training can be a good way to use up some of that excess energy.

It is therefore important to ensure the dog's physical well-being with good walks, swims, etc., but it is equally important to give the dog mental stimulation in everyday life, so that it does not get bored and restless.

You can read some tips for both physical and mental activities for the dog in our article on activation here .

The dog nutrition consultant's advice about feed

spaniel dog with a snack

Ann-Kristin Meyer is a dog nutrition consultant and therefore knows a lot about feed and how important diet is for a dog's health and optimal well-being. With the right diet, you can extend the dog's life by preventing diseases and lifestyle diseases, which many dogs are affected by.

However, there is no clear answer to what you should feed your dog. For example, some dogs thrive on raw food, while others cannot tolerate it. The same applies to the debate about starch.

"For me, starch is not an absolute no-go. If you have a normally functioning healthy dog, I would typically recommend food that suits the dog's anatomy and physiology, i.e. a carnivore that is able to process some plant material. I would not normally recommend the large amounts of starch, but some dogs thrive on it. If, for example, it is a dog athlete who provides intensive exercise in a short time, the dog must have starch in its food.” – Ann-Kristin Meyer

There may also be considerations regarding what options you have financially, in terms of time and value. You must find a feed that meets the requirements for both you and the dog as well as possible.

"I always recommend - when you are standing in a store with thousands of dog food - to find the one that best suits the dog's system. You must always go for a high protein quality. The proteins that come from animal sources will typically have a higher quality and are better suited in their amino acid composition and to the needs of the dog." – Ann-Kristin Meyer

The two most important things to look for are:

– animal proteins
– feed that is as little processed as possible.

The protein quality is reduced by heat treatment, but you need to have some background knowledge about dog food to be able to immediately see if it has been heat treated. It is rarely stated on the package.

It is also not easy to find the protein quality, but a good tip is to look at the ingredient list and read what the feed actually consists of. If there are many meat ingredients, such as fresh chicken, then you are guaranteed animal protein sources. If instead it says, for example, meat meal, then technically it is still animal, but processed. This means that it has been heat-treated several times, which is equivalent to significantly poor quality.

"As a rule of thumb, it is always good to choose feed where you can actually understand what is in the package and where it is relatively concrete. It could be fresh chicken meat - it is concrete and understandable. If it says animal by-products, it's very uncertain because you don't know which animal it comes from." – Ann-Kristin Meyer

In general, it is smart to go for feed that has as few additives as possible. If the list of additives on your current feed is long, look for another brand. Think logically and follow your gut.

More than 50% of all dogs in the USA are overweight and the Danish dogs unfortunately follow closely behind. Veterinarian Marika Kristensen says that overweight dogs are one of the things she sees most in her work. The owner wants the dog well, but unfortunately ends up overfeeding and doing the dog a disservice. And it is important to keep an eye on the dog's weight, as excess weight has a major impact on the dog's lifespan, well-being and health. For example, overweight dogs generally get sick more often at a younger age.

If you suspect that your dog is overweight, there are several signs you can check for yourself:

  1. The dog must have a clear waist when you look from above.
  2. From the side, the stomach should preferably be clearly drawn up, so that the chest is thicker than the stomach.
  3. Feel if you can feel the legs. You should be able to feel them without pressing hard on the dog's ribs.

Of course, there are always breed differences, and it is easier to see obesity in some types of dogs than in others. But the rule of thumb is that there should only be a minimal layer of fat.

We hope that the article here made you a little smarter about how you can take even better care of your dog and achieve the best dog life for both you and the four-legged friend.

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