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Dog Ownership, Nutrition and Care: Health

How to choose the right canine companion; facts about puppy stores, rescues, breeders; basic dog training, health, care and safety; choosing the right food for your dog; understanding dog food ingredient labels; behavior and training; giving up your dog.

Wildlife Threat to Dogs

Venomous and dangerous species are everywhere, so it's vital to be informed of the risks to you and your pets in any location you visit or move to. Here are some of the more common threats to a dog's life in South FL:

Brown recluse Spiders
See: Brow Recluse Spider Bites in Dogs -

Brown Recluse Spider


Giant/Cane/Marine/Bufo Toads
See: Florida Wildlife Extension - Univeristy of Florida


Known to live in residential lakes and canals. Many dog fatalities reported.


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If you lose your dog, a microchip is the best chance of being reunited with them. Ask your vet to microchip your dog! This entails a tiny microchip being injected between the dog's shoulder blades. The vet then uses a special scanner to check and make sure that the chip works and is the right code that matches the registration papers. Then you are responsible for registering the microchip number associated to your name and contact information.

If your dog is found, the good Samaritan will take him to a vet or clinic where he'll be scanned and call the microchip company to report the chip number. The company in turn contacts you and there begins the reuniting process.

When you find a lost dog, DON'T take him to the shelter! Many shelters don't have the resources or care to scan for microchip, which either means the dog will be adopted to someone else, or most likely put to sleep.

Heartworm Prevention

A few more paragraphs could explain heartworm, causes, treatment, and how to prevent it; but this 5-minute video from the President of the American Heartworm Society does an excellent job of covering the basics every dog owner should see.
Bottom line: Prevention of Heartworm is cheap and painless. Treatment of Heartworm with arsenic (poison) is expensive, painful, and some dogs don't survive it.

american heartworm society

Flea & Tick Prevention

Fleas cause discomfort in dogs, but the extent of flea infestation can actually threaten your dog's life. From serious skin allergies, to tapeworm infestation to even death, fleas should not be ignored by a responsible dog owner. Ticks can attract even more serious health issues, both to your dog and to you!

If you have a dog, chances are you are familiar with ticks. You're also familiar with the many commercials and advertisements that encourage you to purchase products to get rid of ticks or prevent them from feeding on your pet. We place a lot of importance in preventing ticks in our pets because ticks are more than just blood-sucking arachnid parasites; along with mosquitoes, ticks are responsible for transmitting many diseases in dogs...
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That being said...

It's important to keep in mind that fleas and ticks are insects, and killing them will likely require the use of insecticide-based products. There is much controversy and opposing viewpoints on this area, so the best way to address this is in person with your veterinarian. I still recommend that you do your own research to know what to ask. Many dog owners who are on top of their dogs' health will agree on these best practices as a middle ground:

  1. DON'T LEAVE YOUR DOG IN THE YARD. Aside from being lonely and prone to dehydration, your dog will be much more prone to pick up fleas/ticks if left outdoors. The same is true with Heartworm infection. In addition, a bored and lonely dog is a dog wanting to get out. Many dogs are lost or hit by cars because they can quickly dig their way out of a fence.
  2. PET YOUR DOG EVERY DAY. If you do this regularly as you meticulously check for bumps (ticks) and little scurrying black spots (fleas), you can catch the problem before it gets out of control.
  3. BRUSH YOUR DOG'S COAT OFTEN. Similarly, this can help detect the problem, and your dog will smell better longer. Plus, he might enjoy your attention.
  4. USE MEDICATION THAT WORKS, WHEN NEEDED. Some flea and/or tick medication only claim to sterilize the fleas, but it doesn't kill them. This allows them to continue feeding on your dog's blood. Compare the claims of each product, research the side effects and warnings. Ask your vet.


Exercise is indispensable for all dogs to keep their energy levels balanced. A dog that does not get daily opportunity to exercise can develop health and behavioral problems.

Letting the dogs loose in the yard after work or taking them for a 20 minute trip to the dog park is probably not the best you can do for your best friend. The benefit of exercise is not just the physical, but also the mental development in how your pup relates to you and the outside world. Exercise is a dog owner's opportunity to bond with their best friend and provide the leadership every dog needs to perceive in their master.

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