Routine Dog Care for Health & Well-Being [Vet-Approved Guide]

Whether you are a new dog parent or a seasoned one, you may have questions about the best way to care for your dog. You may have asked “How do I take care of a dog” or “How can I make my dog healthy?”. These questions are great starting points for providing comprehensive and amazing care for your furry best friend! 

To help you on your journey, we put together this vet-approved guide which covers the foundational things every dog parent needs to know: grooming tips, nutritional recommendations, exercise ideas, and much more!  

Note: This comprehensive guide is intended for dogs 1 -  2 years or older (adult dogs). For more information on puppy care, check out our guide: How to Take Care of a New Puppy: The First Year. For more information on caring for senior pets, learn more here: How to Care for Older Dogs & Cats: Must-Know Tips

What’s in This Guide?

A dog having a bath which is part of great dog care

Grooming & Routine Dog Care

1. Baths Every 1 -  3 Months (or As Needed)

The ideal frequency of dog baths depends on three main factors: the pup’s fur type, lifestyle, and the presence of skin conditions, fleas, or ticks

Based on a dog’s fur type, here are our general dog bath frequency recommendations: 

  • Short-haired breeds (e.g. beagle, dalmatian, pug): every 1 - 3 months
  • Medium and long-haired breeds (e.g. Shiba Inu, Border Collie): every month

Frequent baths (more than once a month) are not recommended because these can dry out the dog’s skin and coat (which can potentially lead to other skin complications). However, having a bath outside of the recommended schedule may be necessary under the following circumstances: 

2. Fur Brushing Daily or Weekly (Depending on Fur Type)

Regular brushing helps keep your pup’s coat healthy by spreading beneficial natural oils and removing any stuck debris. Regular brushing also helps manage fur shedding. 

So how often does one need to brush a dog’s coat? Typically, it's advisable to brush short-haired dogs (e.g. dalmatian, pug, Boston Terrier) at least once a week. However, for medium and long-haired dogs, daily brushing is recommended to ensure their comfort and minimize shedding. Dogs with dense undercoats, regardless of their coat length, should be brushed daily.

3. Toothbrushing Daily or 3x/Week — & Yearly Teeth Cleaning 

Consistent daily toothbrushing helps reduce the risk of dental diseases in dogs by preventing the formation of disease-causing plaque and tartar. It is recommended to brush a dog's teeth either every day or 3 times a week, using toothpaste specially formulated for dogs. (Human toothpaste is unsafe for dogs.)

Note: Looking to double-check a dog toothpaste for your pup? Please refer to the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s list of accepted products for dogs.

Alongside regular toothbrushing at home, it is recommended to see a veterinarian for a dental exam and dental cleaning at least once a year. A veterinarian-performed dental cleaning goes beyond what toothbrushing alone can achieve, providing a thorough cleaning and polishing of teeth. Consistent dental care for dogs helps minimize the risk of tooth decay, tooth loss, and potential heart problems associated with periodontal disease.

4. Regular Vet Checkups Once or Twice a Year

Routine veterinary check-ups or wellness exams for dogs, conducted annually or twice in a year, play a crucial role in identifying and treating health issues early on for dogs. These veterinary visits also serve as an excellent opportunity to ensure comprehensive preventive care for dogs, which generally involves the following aspects:

  • Updated essential dog vaccinations for rabies, DHPP (or DAPP) — These vaccines protect pups from life-threatening, common diseases.
  • Updated recommended vaccines — Depending on a pup’s area of residence and lifestyle, recommended (non-core) vaccines can include leptospirosis, canine influenza, Bordetella (kennel cough), and/or Lyme disease vaccines.
  • Heartworm prevention — unlike cats, there are medications to treat heartworm in dogs; however, a heartworm infection and the heartworm treatment itself are physically demanding on a dog’s body — with severe infections potentially requiring surgery. Therefore, consistent heartworm prevention is still the gold standard for great dog care. 
  • Dental cleaning  — As highlighted in the preceding section, regular dental cleaning serves as a preventative measure to combat the accumulation of disease-causing plaque and tartar. These build-ups, if left unaddressed, can contribute to tooth decay, tooth loss, and gum infections, potentially affecting a dog's overall lifespan.
A dog wellness exam is being conducted in Sploot Veterinary Care, a top-notch vet clinic with locations in Denver and Chicago

Creating a Structured Feeding Schedule for Dogs

5. Meals: Twice a Day 

Dogs generally benefit from a structured feeding schedule with regular meals provided twice a day, around 12 hours apart. A consistent feeding schedule for dogs aids in proper weight management, preventing overeating as well as picky eating behaviors

In addition to establishing a regular feeding routine for your dog, ensure they receive a balanced diet with pet food that meets AAFCO requirements. In addition, proper portion control is crucial to prevent weight issues in dogs. 

Note: To determine the optimal meal portions and select the right dog food for your furry companion's requirements, we strongly recommend scheduling a dietary consultation with a licensed veterinarian.

6. Water: Available at All Times & A Clean Bowl Daily

Maintaining proper hydration is crucial for the overall health of your canine companion. Make sure your dog has constant access to clean, fresh water every day. Additionally, it's essential to clean your dog's water bowl daily to ensure the water remains fresh and free from bacterial buildup.

A dog drinking out of a clean water bowl, which is essential for great routine dog care

Exercise, Playtime, & Training

7. Walks & Playtime: Daily, For At Least 30 Minutes

The ideal duration for a daily dog walk depends on factors such as the dog's breed, age, health, and energy level. However, a general guideline is to aim for at least 30 minutes to two hours of exercise each day. High-energy breeds or younger dogs may require more vigorous and longer walks — while senior dogs or less active dogs may be content with shorter walks.

Along with daily walks, some pups also benefit from indoor playtime (i.e. interactive games, puzzle feeders, etc) — these indoor play sessions give pups physical and mental stimulation even while indoors.

8. More Vigorous Exercise - As Needed

Some dogs may benefit from more vigorous activities such as jogging, on-leash hiking, swimming, running alongside a bike, and more. These are great sources of physical exercise, especially for high-energy dogs

In any case, it is recommended to consult a veterinarian before doing more vigorous exercises such as the ones listed above. An experienced veterinarian will be able to assess the exercise’s suitability or finetune the exercise so that it is safe and enjoyable for your furry friend!

9. Training: Can Be Incorporated Daily

Training helps keep your pup mentally sharp — in addition, some sets of commands provide fun physical exercises (e.g. fetch, frisbee catching, tug of war, agility training). Training is also a great way to cement a bond with your pup. 

Regular training sessions can be done at any age past 8 weeks old. In general, formal training sessions done regularly are effective in establishing desired behaviors. In addition to formal training sessions, dog parents can also incorporate commands and behaviors into daily activities. For example, you can try asking your dog to sit before meals or wait before crossing the street.

A dog sitting on command because of dog training, which is a part of regular dog care

Sleep for Dogs: 8 - 13.5 Hours a Day

Ensuring that dogs get sufficient sleep is another vital aspect of a comprehensive dog care routine. Adult dogs typically sleep for about 8 to 13.5 hours per day. As dogs age, they may gradually spend more hours sleeping compared to their early adulthood.

Note: If your dog is suddenly lethargic and sleeping more than usual, it may indicate a health issue. Be sure to seek advice from a veterinarian

Final Thoughts on Establishing a Great Dog Care Routine

One crucial element in establishing a healthy dog care routine is to schedule regular veterinary check-ups (at least once a year). This aids in preventing, detecting, and treating various diseases and health conditions early on. If your dog requires a pet wellness exam, vaccination update, or other veterinary services, Sploot is always here to assist.

Sploot Veterinary Care is a primary & urgent veterinary clinic with multiple convenient clinic locations. We offer a stress-free experience in our serene, modern veterinary clinics with great availability — our doors are open 365 days a year, from 10 am to 10 pm.

Schedule an appointment easily online or via the Sploot Vets app! You can also drop by for a happy visit or a walk-in appointment.

Till next time, we’re with you every pounce of the way!

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