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Dog ownership not seasonal says SPCA

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Winter can be bad news for dogs with owners giving them up to avoid muddy paws in the house or walks in the rain, says SPCA Auckland.

"Unfortunately winter is our high season for dogs coming into the shelter and it is often a case of owners who find managing a dog through the winter months all too hard," says SPCA Auckland CEO Andrea Midgen.

"We’d argue the opposite - there are enormous benefits to having dogs all year round and winter is no exception. We’d also highlight to prospective dog owners that getting a dog is for life, it’s far from being seasonal."

The benefits of having a dog in winter are endless, as dogs can boost the immune system, help reduce stress levels and release endorphins, as well as provide companionship.

"Anyone who has ever owned a dog will know that they lift your mood, motivate you to exercise even on the darkest, coldest days and become part of your family."

"Dogs provide many benefits to the owners, but owners also need to be prepared to love and care for the dog for the rest of the animal’s life," says Andrea.

SPCA Auckland encourages people who are considering adopting a dog to talk to SPCA staff about the realities of ownership including cost and times commitments. All dogs adopted from SPCA Auckland leave the shelter de-sexed, micro-chipped, vaccinated and temperament checked. SPCA Auckland currently has 28 puppies and dogs available for adoption.

To help new owners know how to care for their new dog, SPCA Auckland has created the following top 10 tips:

1. Living arrangements:

Set up a space with a bed, crate or blankets and provide water, toys and a feeding area. Keep puppies in one room for the first day or two (a tiled bathroom or laundry is ideal) and ensure the room is secure, warm and well ventilated.

2. Safety:

Remove hanging wires, cords or electrical cables that your dog could chew or get tangled in. A small house can seem big to a new pup, so do not allow your dog to have free roam of all areas in the house. Explore the house slowly on a lead initially.

3. Diet:

Dogs need a premium food for energy and health. SPCA recommends a quality dog biscuit. Biscuits clean dog’s teeth and have higher nutrients than soft foods. Premium food is available at SPCA and most vet clinics. Dogs need some variety in their diet so discuss options with your vet.

4. Affection:

While he or she may be shy at first, dogs are highly sociable and need love and affection just like everyone else. Play with them, give them cuddles and spend time with them every day.

5. Children:

A new environment and new people can be overwhelming, so ask children, family and friends to keep the house calm and quiet. Always supervise young children with your dog teach children to handle and approach your dog properly. It’s also best to keep children away from dogs when they are eating, sleeping or in a crate

6. Vaccinations

Vaccinations against disease are critical throughout your dog’s life. SPCA gives most initial vaccinations and a health card recording them. Check this for the due date of future vaccinations and arrange with your vet. Young pups may not have completed all vaccinations. Your puppy needs to be fully vaccinated before you take it off your property.

7. Fleas

Fleas can cause your dog discomfort with painful itchy patches. Fleas can spread to your home and family. If your dog has fleas they will be itching and scratching and you may see fleas or flea dirt in their coat.

8. Worms

Dogs can get worms. Many live in the gut and feed off the dog’s food causing malnutrition. Young puppies can die from severe cases. Some types of worms can spread to humans. Cleaning up after your dog and general good hygiene help prevent this. It is difficult to detect if your dog has worms. Symptoms include tiredness, a dull coat, diarrhoea or bloody stools, weight loss, a pot-bellied appearance or "scooting" their bottom along the ground.

9. Grooming:

Regular grooming of your dog is a good way to calmly interact with your dog and help detect health concerns. Even dogs with short coats need regular grooming and all dogs need their nails clipped.

10. Toilet training

Frequent visits to the garden and praise when they toilet outside will be enough for most dogs, though puppies will need a little extra help. Watch for signs your pup needs to toilet (sniffing, circling), if so take it outside immediately. Young puppies have limited bladder control, so need a toilet break after eating, drinking, sleeping or playing. Take them to the toilet last thing at night and first thing in the morning.

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