Caring for your Dog or Puppy


Taking care of a dog or puppy is a big job! Find out what supplies you will need and what responsibilities you will have to take care of your new best friend.


  • Premium quality dog food and treats for the right breed and size
  • Food and water bowls – ceramic and metal bowls clean up better
  • Safe toys – make sure there’s no lead paint or breakable parts
  • Dog brush and comb
  • Dog shampoo
  • Pooper scooper and biodegradable poop bags
  • Collar with license and ID tag
  • Leash
  • Dog nail clippers
  • Carrier or crate
  • Dog bed
  • Dog toothbrush and dog toothpaste
  • Outdoor dog house
  • Make sure you have shaded areas outdoors

Dangers! Never Give Your Puppy or Dog:

  • Anything harder than your pet’s teeth. This includes cow
  • bones, nylon bones and real bones. These can break a dog’s teeth.
  • House plants
  • T-shirts or knotted socks. If accidently chewed apart and ingested, they can become “foreign bodies”, causing your pet to become very ill.
  • Alcohol
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Moldy or spoiled food
  • Onions, garlic or chives
  • Poultry bones
  • Salty foods or salt
  • Tomato leaves or stems
  • Unripe fruit
  • Yeast dough
  • Nuts
  • Medicines unless it’s recommended by a veterinarian

What to Feed Your Puppy or Dog

  • Adult dogs should eat premium-quality dry food. If you want, you can mix the dry food with water, low-salt broth or canned food
  • Dogs can eat MOST fruits and vegetables, but never more than 10% of their daily diet. See below for a list of foods that shouldn’t be given to dogs.
  • Puppies need a high-quality puppy food
  • Avoid“people food”for all dogs and puppies
  • Dogs and puppies need clean, fresh water available at all times

When to Feed

  • Puppies eight to 12 weeks old: three meals a day
  • Puppies three to six months old: two meals a day
  • Puppies six months to one year: two meals a day
  • Dogs, one year or older: two meals a day
  • Large dogs: may need three meals a day


  • Different dogs need different amounts of exercise. Some dogs need a lot. Some dogs get hurt if they exercise too much. Ask your veterinarian what’s best for your pet.
  • When walking your pet, be careful of ice or snow, deicer salt, or hot pavement

Chores Daily

  • Gently brush your dog’s fur
  • Play with your dog
  • Walk your dog – ask your veterinarian how long and how much
  • Brush your dog’s teeth – chew toys aren’t enough
  • Clean up poop
  • Clean water and food bowls
  • Feed and water your pet


  • Bathe your dog if needed. Some dogs don’t need to be bathed monthly.
  • Have your parents or guardian:
  • Check your dog’s nails to see if they need to be clipped
  • Give your dog a heartworm pill from your veterinarian – no matter which state you live in!
  • Ask your veterinarian to see if your dog needs his/ her ear hair trimmed or if he/she needs his/her“anal glands expressed”
  • Apply a flea/tick prevention treatment if needed


  • Have your parent or guardian take your dog to the veterinarian for a checkup and any vaccines

Be Gentle

  • Never hit a dog, they don’t understand what hitting is
  • Never grab your dog’s fur or tail
  • Don’t force a tired dog to play

Get a License and ID

  • Follow your city’s licensing laws
  • Attach the license to your dog’s collar
  • Have your parents or guardian ask the veterinarian to microchip your dog

Go to Dog or Puppy School

A trained dog is a happy dog! Contact your local humane society or veterinarian to find a training class.

Spay and Neuter

  • To prevent health problems, females should be spayed and males should be neutered. Check with your veterinarian on the appropriate age to spay or neuter your pet.
  • Dogs that are spayed/neutered don’t run away or fight as much

Finding the Right Veterinarian

  • When you get your dog, have your parent or guardian take it to a veterinarian for a checkup
  • Your dog should see a veterinarian once a year and when you think it might be sick

You know your dog best. If your dog seems to be acting strangely, call your veterinarian right away!

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