Being a good pet parent means being a loving, caring pet parent. Some of this advice is basic and obvious, and you will think, “I know that.” Of course you do, but despite knowing that, working our busy schedules can sometimes force us to not be as reliable as we should be and want to be. We have to try to be consistent in our pet care.

Jenna’s Generalities: Most Helpful Hints

About Water

We of course provide our pets’ food, because let’s face it, they can’t get it for themselves; same goes for water. However, water must be kept fresh. Ever notice that a water bowl left out a day might have a hint of pink in it? Yeah, pink water is pretty. But it’s not safe. The extra color comes from bacteria that grows in standing water, especially when bits of food, from your dog’s mouth, gets mixed into it every time he or she goes for that needed drink. This bacteria is called Serratia Marcescens, and is also found in toilets, shower and bathtubs. So please remember to keep that water bowl filled with fresh, cool water and clean the water bowl before each use before replacing the water. Both food and water bowls should be at the appropriate height for your dog to eat or drink comfortably without straining.


Most recently I was at a friend’s house and heard something slamming in another room. When I asked what the noise was, she said, “Oh, Sadie just had a drink.” Drink from what? I wondered, and then it hit me. The noise was from the lid of the toilet bowl crashing down on the seat. Oh no!! Please don’t allow your pet to learn to do that. It is most definitely filled with germs—germs that can make your dog ill and then be spread around your house from everything your dog touches.

About Bedding

How familiar are you with these words: “Mom, do I have to make the bed?” Answer, is usually, “Yes. You do.” Well, you do too when it comes to your pet and the area designated as your dog’s bed. It should be free from dirt, ratty old toys that need replacing, and clean. It should be a place that your dog comes to love as a safe location to take a rest. It should be warm when the weather is cold. It should be well ventilated and cool when the temperatures are soaring. And it should be large enough for your dog to be able to stretch and move freely from side to side; much as we do as humans in our own beds. Same goes when choosing to crate for your dog.


About Food


People are aware of buying food that is free of preservatives but are sometimes careless about forgetting to close the open bag. I’ve seen wide, gaping open bags.  This can attract insects and rodents; besides it also prevents the food from staying fresh. Some foods are packaged in re-sealable, easy-to-close bags. Some people prefer food storage containers. Either will do to prevent these problems. 

About Feeders

If you use a “ mess proof” dog feeder, you must remove the bowls daily and empty the food and water that has accumulated in the “mess preventing lower portion of the bowl holder. If you don’t, it will only take a few day to become stagnant and moldy. If you have a dog that is a ravenous drinker or eater, and you allow food and water to accumulate in the bottom under the bowls, your dog will be drinking the stagnant water and eating the moldy food that collected under the bowls, when you take the bowls out to refill.  You might find that your mess proof feeder is more problematic than you expected. 

About Collars, etc.


Collars and harnesses are not constructed to last the lifetime of the dog. They get filthy, ratty, and too small because the dog grew or gained weight; or too big because the collar or harness stretched out. A proper fitting collar will allow for two or three fingers under the collar. Tags should be in placed securely.


Suggestion:  If you put too many tags on the collar or harness or use a leash with a clip that is too large or heavy for the size of your dog, it will pull the collar down and the leash will continually go under the dog’s front leg.


About Replacement Toys, etc.


Dog parents should make note that toys and chews need to be replaced when they are no longer in good condition. Be sure that stuffed toys are not ripped and are losing stuffing. Also, make sure that the “squeaker” is not exposed enough for your dog to pull it out of the material. You don’t want your dog to eat any of those materials.The photo is of a squeaker pulled out of a well-known brand toy.  ( Manufacturer’s name has been covered)


About Medication for your Dog


If you need to give your dog a pill, do not put it in the food bowl. Most times the pill will show up on the floor later in the day. Put the pill in a small piece of food or product made especially for helping to make pill-giving a lot easier. Do not use cheese if you’re giving your dog an antibiotic, as it will interfere with the absorption of the medication.


“Borrowing” medication from another dog parent because you misplaced your dog’s dose, or weren’t able to get to the store for purchase, can cause severe harm or even death. Every prescription ordered by your vet is specially prescribed just for your dog, according to their age, size, and general health concerns.


Remember to never be careless with your household medications as well. If a household member’s pill drops on the floor, you most definitely don’t want your dog swallowing it.


About Walking in the Heat, Walking in the Cold, Walking in the Rain


Is the sidewalk or roadway too hot for your dog to walk on?  If you can’t hold your hand flat on the ground for at least 10 seconds, the answer is YES. 

Just think of the heat of beach sand beneath your bare feet on very hot days and then you will know just how your dog feels.

Is it cold enough for my dog to need a coat or sweater?  If your bare hands feel cold, the dog does too. Better to put it on. 

If your dog goes for walks in the rain, gently wipe him or her down with a clean towel once back indoors. Make it a pleasant experience.