Louth SPCA

How to Care for Dogs & Puppies

It’s no secret that canines and humans make great companions. The benefits for the human are; a dog will give you unconditional love, loyalty and lifelong friendship. In return, your canine friend asks for food, water, shelter, safety, regular veterinary check-ups and plenty of exercise. In fact, did you know that if you don’t take proper care of your dog, he is likely to suffer not only from physical ailments but also behavioral problems?

So, that said, wouldn’t you like to know a few dog care basics, a sort of ‘tricks of the trade,’ guide from us here at the Louth SPCA?

To help you, we’ve compiled a list of some of the frequently asked questions we receive; and, so far, we’ve managed to answer them all. Take a look at our information below; we’re sure you’ll find it useful for both you and your furry friend.


What do I feed my dog?

A healthy, balanced diet is essential. Take a look at different foods available and check the ingredients. Are they quality ingredients or are they fillers? Don’t go spending lots of money; instead, first ask for some samples and see how your dog reacts to them. Buy the one he likes best. If, however, you are in doubt, discuss your dog’s dietary requirements with you vet. Make sure your dog has access to fresh, clean, water at all times. Tip: A complete, dry dog food helps keep his teeth clean.

What about my dog’s kennel?

Well there’s no doubt about it, your dog needs to have proper shelter when he’s out in the garden. However, as a pack animal, he likes to be included into the family unit. Ok, we know in some circumstances a family may require their pet to stay outdoors for certain parts of the day; but he should have access to the family home. NB! We at the  Louth SPCA advise all dogs have access to the family home and should not be left outside.

If you must leave him outdoors for any length of time,  make sure he has access to a temperature controlled kennel. Never, ever, leave him unattended outside without shelter, food or water. When in the house, set down rules for your dog; he will respect that. Dogs like routine. Make sure he knows the ‘off limit’ areas in your home and make sure he is welcomed into the ‘permissible’ areas. For example; my dogs are not allowed onto the beds but are welcome on chairs and sofas. They know this and will happily jump onto the sofa but steer clear of the beds.

It’s important you nurture your dog. They thrive on love and discipline. Choose a training programme and follow it through. Make sure he knows you are the boss but still maintain a human-canine bond by setting aside time for you and for him.   Owning a dog is not a chore; it’s an experience and we at the  Louth SPCA believe it should enrich your life and that of your best friend, your dog.


How often should I bathe my dog?

As summer is a time of shedding, it’s good to bathe your dog a bit more often than at other times of the year. Once a week is sufficient. In winter, bathing once a month is usually enough.

What products should I use to bathe my dog?

Some pet owners make a big production of grooming their dog; basically it’s not that big an ordeal. Use a good quality dog shampoo, available from your vet or supermarket. If you’ve no dog shampoo, don’t panic…a good quality human one will do. I mean, if you use it to treat your own precious, expensive do, it will be kind enough for your dog’s coat. A tip! Pop a squirt of shampoo into a bowl of water to dilute it first; this means you’re not putting neat shampoo directly onto your dog’s skin. This helps when rinsing, because rinsing his coat clean and clear is vital. It is very important, especially in dogs with longer, shaggier coats, to brush them prior to bathing as well as afterwards.

This brings me nicely onto our next question…

How often do I brush my dog?

Simple! Every day. It’s a bonding thing, and it stimulates the natural oils in your dog’s skin. Use a mound mitt if you have a short coated dog and a wire brush for other breeds. Again, check with your vet.


Exercise! How much does my dog need?

All dogs need exercise. Let’s face it, all humans need it too. Exercising your dog is breed specific, but that doesn’t mean a small dog can just sit around all day. To be fair, we’d recommend 40 minutes per day; a bit less for small dogs, a bit more for larger breeds. Now, that not only tires him out and keeps him happy,  it get’s rid of that guilt you’re feeling over that extra mid morning muffin you ate when you thought nobody was looking!!!

But I have a huge back garden and he runs around it all day?

Ok, we get it…you have land; great, your dog still needs a walk! He’ll get Cabin Fever if he’s expected to run around the same old five acres all day, every day. He needs new experiences, he needs excitement and he needs to live a little.

And…speaking of excitement leads us nicely on to doggy toys. Does my dog need doggie toys?

Yep. He needs chew toys; think lovely rawhide, pigs’ ears, real bones; something he can get his teeth into.

When we discuss buying toys and accessories for your dog, we then get down to the nitty gritty facts and figures of owning a pet. People just don’t realize that you must take your dog’s expenses into account when planning the family budget. I mean, before you got your dog, did you stop to ask yourself this question…Can I afford a dog?

Costs vary and there are always contributing factors such as size, breed, age, etc., so, the best advice we can give you is – Know your limits.

So, how much does it cost to own a dog?

Take a look at the table below – it give’s you a pretty good idea as to how much you can expect to spend annually on your new best friend.

Approximate Annual Expense

Type of Expense

Food and Treats

250 – 700€


25 – 150€


50 – 200€

Leads and Collars

20 – 50€


30 – 500€

Routine Veterinary Care

100 – 300€

Preventive Medications and Supplements

100 – 300€

Training Classes or Resources

25 – 300€

Pet sitters or Boarding

100 – 300€

Yearly Total



Apart from all of the above, your dog will also need:

  • Micro chipping
  • A well fenced garden to play in.
  • His teeth cleaned – giving dry dog food helps with this
  • To be neutered/spayed
  • Vaccinations
  • Worming and de fleaing

If you want to do your part to help animals in need, then get your best friend from a local rescue shelter, or better still, from us at the Louth SPCA.