According to 2012 statistics on U.S. Pet Ownership compiled by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), over 43 million American households keep at least one dog as a pet. Owning a pet is a big responsibility. Dogs and other animals look to their owners for their proper care. 

Providing for your precious pooch's needs, however, involves quite a bit more than throwing him scraps from the table and scratching him behind the ears occasionally. The following is a list of some basic care needs that first-time dog owners might not realize that they need to provide for their puppy or adult canine. 

Even very experienced pet owners and animal handlers can forget about how much actual work is involved in providing everything that their dog needs to grow and maintain their health. Other times owners simply get busy with other responsibilities in their lives and even common, well-known pet care tasks can easily slip their minds. 

Pet owners have a legal, and moral responsibility to properly care for their dogs and other animals. Every effort must be made by owners to ensure that they are taking the proper steps, on a regular and consistent basis, to properly care for their animal friends.


As your dog ages, his nutritional needs change over time. Ensuring that your dog is getting all of the calories, vitamins and other nutrients that he or she needs to support proper growth and development is one of the keys to keeping your dog healthy and happy at every stage of his life. 

In addition to vitamins, the primary components of a healthy diet for dogs include proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, and water. Each of these components must be consumed in the proper amounts and concentrations, otherwise, an imbalance may occur that could lead to nutritional deficiencies and the development of serious health conditions down the road. 

High grade, commercial pet foods can provide the proper amounts and concentrations of nutrients, but it is still possible for deficiencies to occur. With this in mind, dog supplements are generally recommended to help ensure that your pet is getting all of the nutrients that he needs.

Table scraps should be avoided as they may contain items such as raw egg whites that can interfere with the absorption of certain vitamins and affect metabolism. Other food ingredients commonly found in table scraps, such as onions or chocolate, can be dangerous to dogs and other pets as they can damage the liver and other organs and consumption of these and similar foods can lead to death. 


Dogs need more than an occasional bath to keep them clean. Regular grooming, including brushing their coats on a daily basis helps to deter pests such as fleas and ticks and removes dander and loose hairs so that their coat grows strong and thick. 

Their teeth and ears should also be cleaned on a regular basis to remove the buildup of dental plaque and ear wax that can harm the teeth and reduce their hearing. 


Dogs also need more than a rabies shot every three years to prevent diseases. Taking your dog to see a veterinarian on a regular basis for check-ups and immunizations can help you prevent many common diseases that can affect dogs and damage their health.  

Some of the diseases, infections and other health conditions which commonly afflict puppies and older dogs for which there are now immunizations include the canine forms of parainfluenza, distemper, hepatitis, as well as heartworm, Coronavirus, bordetella bronchiseptica and other common causes of kennel cough, parvovirus, leptospirosis and Lyme disease.

While some immunizations convey immunity for life, others require regular booster shots. Taking your dog to the vet on a regular basis can help you to ensure that your dog is always up-to-date on vaccinations. Your vet can also provide you with additional information about the proper care that your dog needs, and will look for signs of other common conditions and ailments that can affect your pet.


Dogs need regular exercise on a daily basis, as well as companionship. Regardless of the breed or size of your dog, most dogs can adapt to nearly any location.  Regardless of where you live, it is up to you to ensure that you are providing your pet with the physical activity and attention that he needs and craves. You will have quite an unhappy, and unhealthy, pooch if you simply chain him up outside in the backyard.

While you might not think you can provide a dog with the attention and exercise that he needs if you are a busy, working professional, even college students can successfully own dogs and other pets. The key to keeping your dog active and healthy is to look for ways to include him in as many of your daily activities as possible. 

Owning a dog is really more like adding a new member to your family. Look for ways to include your dog's exercise into your daily lifestyle. Taking him for walks in the park or around the neighborhood, release stress from your job by playing fetch with him or giving him a good rub down, and don't hesitate to allow him to share your hearth! 


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