Dogs & Puppies

Dogs are well known as being man's best friend.  They are affectionate and loyal, but high maintenance.  Remember that when you adopt a dog you are accepting a long term responsibility. Most dogs live at least 11 - 14 years, some longer.


Your dog is now part of the family. Give him his own special place in the house and provide a bed somewhere free of draughts and near the centre of family life, without being in the way. At times when you need to leave your dog outside the house he must have access to suitable shelter. In most cases that means a properly constructed kennel of suitable size. It must be both waterproof and windproof with a wooden floor raised from the ground. Never allow your dog to sleep on concrete for any length of time, even in summer. Protection from the heat is also necessary.

Dogs and Children

Young children must always be carefully supervised when around animals. They must learn never to tease the dog but to treat it kindly and with respect.


Most adult dogs thrive on commercially prepared foods, but at the same time they do enjoy some variety. Follow feeding instructions on the can or packet, and ascertain your dog's ideal weight.  Like people, dogs differ in their dietary needs. A stew of cooked meat with added rice and vegetables is nourishing and economical. All dogs need access to a little grass, which they eat from time to time to maintain their natural digestive balance. A bowl of fresh water must always be available.  If you have specific nutritional questions, you may be best to contact your Veterinarian for advice.

Important: Never feed your dog raw sheep meat or raw offal of any kind. Everything that comes from the inside of an animal carcase, such as liver and heart, must be well cooked, preferably by boiling, before being fed to a dog. This is a legal requirement to prevent the dog from becoming infected with the hydatid tapeworm, which can seriously affect humans.

Most dogs love a bone, but avoid cooked bones and never give dogs chicken, chops, fish or rabbit bones. The only safe bones are brisket and big raw beef shank bones, which do not splinter.


An un-speyed female dog can produce two litters of puppies a year. Large breeds have big litters—maybe 10 or more at any one time. They create a lot of work, cost a vast amount of money to feed and finding homes for them all can be difficult, often impossible. Be a responsible dog owner and have your dog desexed as soon as it’s old enough—around 6 months of age. You will improve its health and minimize aggressive behaviour and the tendency to roam.  By adopting from SPCA Otago, you can be sure your dog is desexed.


The daily outing is the high point of your dog’s day. Suitable exercise for his size and breed is essential for his physical and mental wellbeing.  It is your together time for play and socialisation and it’s good for you too!

Obedience Training

This is a gentle means of giving a pup or dog the guidance it needs to prevent the development of unacceptable behaviour. It is a constructive, progressive process that is good fun for both dog and owner. Basic obedience training is the key to having a well-behaved dog. Once trained, the dog is more controllable, more dependable and happier in itself as it has a better idea what is expected of it. The effort is small but the benefits last a lifetime.

Dogs in Cars

Dogs love riding in cars, but on a warm day the temperature in a parked car can reach danger level in a matter of minutes, even with partially opened windows. With only hot air to breath, your pet can quickly suffer brain damage or death. This can happen even when the day is overcast.  Don’t kill your pet with kindness. On hot days, leave your dog at home.

If your dog is overcome by heat exhaustion you must lower his body temperature immediately. Get him into the shade and apply cool water all over his body. Let him drink small amounts of cool water and get him to a veterinarian quickly. This could save his life.

Your Dog’s Health

Vaccination: As a puppy your dog should have been fully vaccinated against Distemper, Parvo Virus, Hepatitis and Kennel Cough, but he still needs a booster shot each year so an annual visit to your Veterinarian is advisable.

This annual visit is a good opportunity for a check of your dog's teeth, skin, ears, eyes and general health. It is also a chance to talk over any concerns you may have. Your veterinarian is your dog's best friend. Keep the clinic's telephone number handy.

Common problems include:

Worms: Adult dogs rarely suffer from roundworms but tapeworms are common. They appear as tiny live white worms on the droppings or on the anus under the tail. Dead segments look like small dry grains of rice and may also be found in the bedding. The hydatid tapeworm is too small to be seen with the naked eye and is acquired only by the dog eating raw offal. It is advisable to dose your dog with a broad-spectrum wormer every six months.

Skin troubles: Often caused by fleas but sometimes by allergies and/or diet. Many dogs have an allergy to milk so if your dog develops skin trouble or diarrhoea, and you are in the habit of giving him milk on a regular basis, try removing it from his diet.  In any case, animals should only be given lactose-free pet milk.  Treatments for skin problems are as varied as the causes. Seek veterinary advice.

Ringworm: Ringworm is not a worm at all, nor even a parasite, but a fungus infection that attacks the hair follicles and spreads quickly. Seek veterinary advice.

Teeth: If your dog’s breath smells, the reason may be due to the formation of tartar on his teeth. Your veterinarian will check this for you.

Ears: Ear mites are responsible for canker which causes dogs great suffering and may lead to permanent ear damage. The dog will shake its head and carry it at a different angle. There may be discharge and loss of balance. Seek prompt treatment.

Grooming: Some dogs require more bathing than others so do this only when necessary. Daily brushing and combing will help to keep your dog clean and comfortable. If your dog has a long, heavy coat, daily care is essential. Keep a watchful eye on his nails as they grow quickly if your dog runs mainly on grass. Your veterinarian will show you how to clip them or do the job for you. Paint or tar can be removed from an animal’s coat either by clipping off the hair or by rubbing with olive oil or medicinal paraffin. Never use kerosene, petrol or turps.


Every dog owner must register his/her dog when it reaches the age of three months and re-register each year with their local authority. Dogs must wear a collar bearing the current registration disc. A separate disc bearing your own telephone number will give your dog an added protection. Most councils now demand microchip registration as well.  

Bones of Contention

Barking Dogs: Keep your dog indoors at night. This way he will bark only when necessary and will not annoy the neighbours. He will be a better protector because he cannot be bribed, stolen, or injured.

Roaming Dogs: Dogs who roam the neighbourhood unattended annoy neighbours in many ways—they foul properties, chase cats, cause traffic accidents and so on. They join up with other dogs and form packs, which may attack other animals and stock. If your property is securely fenced, your dog de-sexed and regularly exercised under your supervision, roaming is unlikely to be a problem.

Lost Dogs

If your dog goes missing contact your local Council Animal Control Pounds, your local SPCA Animal Centre, and any other appropriate animal welfare groups. It is important to visit the Council offices in person because the description you give of your dog may not match up with the ranger’s description, but they will have photographs for positive identifcation. Your dog will be held at the pound for 7 days only, after which he may be euthanised or adopted out to a new home. So it is crucial not to delay your search. Trade Me also has a Lost & Found section under Pets and Animals.