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House Management of Pet Dogs

Pets require a different treatment, to understand which it will be better to begin at the beginning. We will suppose that a puppy six weeks old, and of a breed not exceeding 151b. weight, is presented to one of our readers What is to be done? First of all, if the weather is not decidedly warm, let it be provided with a warm basket lined with some woolen material, which must be kept scrupulously clean. The little animal must on no account be permitted to have the opportunity of lying upon a stone floor, which is a fertile source of disease; bare wood, however, is better than carpet, and oilcloth superior to either on the score of cleanliness.

In the winter season the apartment should have a fire, but it is not desirable that the puppy should lie basking close to it, though this is far better than the other extreme. Even in the severest cold a gleam of sunshine does young creatures good, and the puppy should, if possible, be allowed to obtain it through a window in the winter, or without that protection in the summer. It will take exercise enough in playing with a ball of worsted or other material indoors until it is ten weeks old, but after that time a daily run in the garden or paddock will be of great service, extending to an hour or an hour and a half, but not so as to overtax its limbs. After this age, two or three hours a day, divided into periods of not more than an hour each, will be of service; but it is very seldom that young pet dogs can reckon on his amount of exercise, and, indeed, it is not by any means necessary to their healthy growth. Until after the tenth week, cow's milk is almost essential to the health of the puppy. It should be boiled and thickened at first with fine wheat flour, and, after the eighth week, with the mixture of coarse wheat flour and oatmeal.

The flour should be gradually increased in quantity, at first making the milk of the thickness of cream, and, towards the last adding meal in quantity sufficient to make a spoon stand up in it. If the bowels are relaxed the oatmeal should be diminished, or if confined increased. This food, varied with broth made from the scraps of the table, and thickened in the same way, will suffice up to the tenth or twelfth week, after which a little meat, with bread, potatoes, and some green vegetable, may be mixed together and gradually introduced as the regular and staple food. The quantity per day will of course vary according to the size of the puppy; but, as an approximation to the proper weight required, it may be laid down that, for each pound the puppy weighs, an ounce of moderately solid food will be sufficient.

From the time of weaning up to the tenth week it should be fed four times a day; then up to four months, three times; and afterwards twice until full grown, when a single feed will, in our pinion, conduce to its health, though many prefer going on with the morning and evening supply. When the puppy is full grown, meat, bread, and vegetables (either potatoes, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, or parsnips), in equal proportions, will form the proper diet, care being taken to avoid bread made with much alum in it. Dog biscuits, if sound, answer well for pet dogs; but the quantity required is so small that in most houses the scraps of the bread basket and plates are quite sufficient. Bones should be supplied daily, for without them not only are the teeth liableto become covered with tartar, but the digestion is impaired for want of a sufficient secretion of saliva.

If the above quality and quantity of food and exercise are given, in combination with the protection from cold recommended, the pet puppy will seldom require any medical treatment. Sometimes, in spite of the most careful management, it will be attacked by distemper contracted from some passing dog infected with it; but with this exception, which will not often occur, it may be anticipated that the properly treated pet dog will pass through life without submitting to the attacks of this disease, which is dire in its effects upon this division of the canine race.

If care is taken to add oatmeal and green vegetables to the food in quantity sufficient to keep the bowels from being confined, no aperient will ever be required; but sometimes this precaution is neglected, and then recourse must be had either to castor oil or the compound rhubarb pill the dose being one drop of the former or half a grain of the latter to each pound the puppy weighs. If the oil is stirred up with some milk the puppy will take it readily enough, and no drenching is required; but care should be taken that the quality is good, and that the oil is not the rank stuff sometimes used in the kennels of sporting dogs. The compound rhubarb pill may be given by opening the mouth with the left hand, and then dropping in the pill. It must be boldly pushed well down the throat as far as the finger will reach, no danger being risked in effecting this simple process. If the liver is not acting (which may be known by the absence of the natural gingerbread colour of the evacuations), from half a grain to a grain of blue pill may be added to either dose, and repeated, if necessary, every day or every other day till the desired effect is produced; or from one-sixth to one-third of a grain of podophyllin, which has a similar effect on the liver.

Very young puppies should not be washed even in the summer season, as they are very liable to chill. After they are three months old, however, a bath of warm water, with or without soap, will do good rather than harm, provided that care be taken to dry them well afterwards. For white dogs, white soap is required to give full effect to this operation; and it may be either " curd " or white soft soap, whichever is preferred, the latter being most effective in cleaning the coat. Long-haired dogs, such as spaniels, the Maltese and Skye terriers, require combing and brushing until they are dry, which should be done in the winter before a fire; and in the latter breeds the coat should be parted down the back with the comb in the most regular manner. If the hair has become matted, a long soaking will be necessary, the comb being used while the part of the dog submitted to its teeth is kept under water, which will greatly facilitate the unrolling of the tangled fibres. After the coat is dry, where great brilliancy is demanded, a very slight dressing of hair-oil may be allowed occasionally; but the brush is the best polisher, and when " elbow-grease " is not spared, a better effect will be produced than by bear's grease at half-a-crown a pot.

With the exception of fleas, pet dogs ought never to be infected with any vermin. Sometimes, however, they catch from others either lice or the ticks which infest the canine race. The appearance of the first two parasites is well known to everyone; but the tick is not among the things commonly presented to the eye, and we may therefore mention that it may be known by its spider-like shape and by its close adhesion to the skin by means of its legs, with which it digs into the surface. In size it varies from that of the head of a small pin to the magnitude of a small grain of wheat, but not being so long in proportion to its width. The colour changes with that of the dog and with the quantity of blood imbibed, which always gives a greater or less tint of bluish-red; but in very young ticks the colour is a pearly grey.

In destroying fleas, the best remedy is the insect-destroying powder sold by Butler and M'Culloch, of Covent Garden, by Keating, of St. Paul's Church[1]yard, and most chemists, which may be well rubbed in without fear of consequences. Lice and ticks require a stronger drug to destroy them, and this should be used with more care, as, being a mercurial preparation, it is liable to be absorbed if the skin is wetted, and then produces serious mischief, accompanied by salivation; or, if the dog is allowed to lick himself, this effect is still more likely to follow. The dog should therefore be kept carefully from all wet for at least twelve hours, and during the application of the remedy it should either be carefully watched and prevented by the hand from licking itself, or it should be muzzled.

The remedy is white precipitate, in powder, well rubbed into the roots of the hair over the whole body, and left on for six hours, after which it should be brushed out. At the expiration of the week the application should be repeated, and possibly it may be required a third time but this is seldom needed.

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