Basic tasks

Every single one of you will have to manage basic nursing tasks during the life of your dog. Among these tasks certainly belong things such as temperature measurement or tablet administration. Since even in these simple tasks one often makes mistakes, there is a brief overview accompanied also by recommended procedures.


Temperature measurement

You have to hold the animal – with more quick-tempered dogs, an assistant is recommended – dip the end of the thermometer into oil, lift the tail and slowly insert it into the rectum. If the animal is resistant in the form of reflex sphincter constriction, do not try to overcome it by force instead wait fir a while. It is necessary to insert the thermometer about 3 cm deep in order to perform temperature measurement, otherwise the measured temperature is inaccurate. Normal dog temperature is in the range 37.5-39°C. Offspring tend to have the temperature near the upper boundary. The temperature measured in the morning is always lower than the temperature measured in the afternoon.


Water intake measurement

Yes, you may feel offended that someone is lecturing you about something so obvious, but even in this area one may make mistakes and then the measurement is not objective.

Never perform measurement during hot days, since water intake is increased, in fact tripled, therefore it is not possible to conclude that something is wrong.

Remove all options of drinking except one bowl (it this is not possible, it is useless to measure anything). Fill a liter vessel with water and use it for refilling the bowl. When the liter vessel is empty, measure another and continue in doing so for the period of 3 days. Then subtract what is left of the liter vessel on the third day evening from the total amount, and consequently divide it by three. This way you will gain average daily water intake – which is equal to the total water intake only in case that you feed your dog solely by dry granules. If you feed it with a different food (cans, pouches, home cooking) consider every single dose and write down the number. It is necessary to add the fluid contained inside of the pouch to the total water intake.

For clarity, calculation example:

You have a dog that weighs 14 kg. You feed it with granules and canned food. In three days you have filled 1 liter bottle 3 times and there are still two deciliters left. The dog ate, apart from granules, a tin weighing 1.2 kg during the measurement. The tin contains 80% water. And we begin to count:

The dog drank 2.8L of water in three days, with the can it got into itself another liter (1.2 kg * 80%). Therefore, it received 3.8 liters of water in total, divided by three we get 1.25 liters per day. Your dog then receives for every kilo of its weight almost 90 ml of water (1.25 / 14 is 0.089 liters, which equals 89 ml).

This value is at the upper limit of normal amount, and therefore it is necessary to take into account possible disease. If you did not count in the canned food, the water intake would look be all right.


Administration of tablets

With healthy animals you can administer the tablet along with a piece of favorite food (meat, salami, cheese). Sick animals do not eat, so the tablet has to be administered separately.

With calmer animals you simply open the mouth and insert the tablet on the root of the tongue. Then you close the mouth and hold it gently. Once the animal has gulped and it is trying to lick itself, the tablet is swallowed.

Another option is to administer crushed tablet along with some sticky material (honey, jam), which you will spread on the tongue or palate.

You can also mix the crushed tablet with a little water and administer it via syringe into its mouth in a form of solution.

A little bit of humor about tablet administration by Murphy's Law:

Shoot's thirteen
Procedure for pill insertion into a dog is as follows:

  1. First, it is essential to catch the dog. Ten people are catching the dog whereas the rest is waiting patiently.
  2. If the dog is caught, you need to split into two groups of five people.
  3. Whereas the first group is holding the dog, members of the other one are treating their injuries in the shortest possible time.
  4. Then both groups switch places.
  5. The maximum time during which both groups can treat their injuries is about half a minute - it not possible to hold the dog any longer. If you exceed the time limit, you will have to start again from point 1.
  6. Both groups are holding the dog simultaneously. Optimal distribution of forces is two people for the left hind leg, two people for the right hind leg, two people for the right front leg, two people for the left front leg and two people for the body.
  7. The two remaining persons will put on welding gloves (if you do not have them, gloves for goalkeepers will do) and will cautiously approach to the dog's mouth.
  8. The first person will swiftly open it.
  9. The second person will swiftly insert the pill – the deeper the pill is inserted, the bigger the chance of it staying inside the dog.
  10. Both persons then hold the dog's mouth until the dog gulps at least three times.
  11. After the dog has gulped three times, it is necessary to agree on an evacuation signal – for instance the person holding the left hind leg will say "NOW!"
  12. Once the person holding the left hind leg says "NOW!", all of the twelve persons will leave the room in the shortest time possible.
  13. The room is about to be left in a disciplined way, but also fast.

Shoot's addition – Efficiency of above described procedure is about fifty percent.

Law of limitless ingenuity - The dog is able to spit the pill out even if it had swallowed it three times.

Law of changing preferences – If you want to get another pill into the dog, you have to ask different neighbors for help.

Pitfall's rule of successful treatment – The more tenants there is in your house, the more probable it is that your dog will complete the pill treatment - assuming that the neighbors do not keep in touch with one another.


Administration of solution into the mouth

In some cases it is necessary to proceed to artificial supply of water or specially prepared solutions. The liquid should be heated to body temperature.

Tilt the head of the animal slightly, draw aside the lip and either open the mouth mildly or drip the liquid between its teeth, as close to the tongue root as possible. Serve it in small doses, so that the animal has enough time to swallow. And beware, if you open the mouth completely, fairly often you tend to hold the tongue and therefore make the swallowing impossible. The tongue has to move freely.


Ears cleaning and/or ear drops application

Stretch the dog ear upward so that the ear canal is straightened and insert the bottle extension with cleaning solution into the ear canal slot. Do not worry about harming the eardrum, dogs have the ear canal bent, so it is virtually impossible to get that deep while cleaning the ear. Squeeze the bottle 1-3 times, so that the ear canal fills up.

After filling the ear canal, rub the ear at the point where it is linked to the head. Imagine the ear canal as a tube, which has sludge settled on the walls. During the massage, you have to rub the inner tube walls against each other to loosen the sludge. Proper massage can be easily recognized by accompanying squelching sound – if the ear does not “squelch”, it is either not filled enough with the liquid, or you do the massage badly.

!!! Do not put any swabs into the ear !!!

Once the animal is released, it will shake out the drops and melted dirt with zest. Therefore, it is better to drip its ears outdoors or in a bathroom. Hardly any animal actually likes ear cleaning, so you need a helper to do it that will hold the animal still. Work as quickly as possible – stretch the ear, insert the bottle extension, squeeze it several times, put the bottle aside and do the massage.

Ear drops are applied in the same way, only then they can be effective. Dripping them only on the external ear, even in from the inside, will not lead to success.


Eye ointment application

On principle, we put the ointment only into an already cleaned eye, so it is essential to remove the discharge and/ or the remnants from previous ointment application first. You can do so by eye drops and reboiled water. Pull the lower eyelid down to create a small pocket. Squeeze out a bit of ointment into it, release the eyelid and massage it gently through a closed eye. Never try to apply the ointment directly into the eye, the animal reflexively winks and the ointment ends up on eyelashes or worse, it can lead to an eye injury caused by the tube extension.


Stool sampling for coprological examination

Take a small stool sample (just the size of a hazelnut) for the period of three days in a row. Put it in to a sealable container, which you need to store at low temperature, preferable in the fridge until handing in. In the veterinary office, they will provide you with the container and spatula.


Urine sampling

Morning urine is the best for the examination, since it is concentrated and of greater amount.

With female dogs it is simple, as soon as it squats down and begins to urinate, you will put a small plate underneath it. The dog has to be taken on a leash, and as soon as it lifts its leg, you will catch the urine into a cup (for greater comfort, take carefully washed out yogurt cup and fasten it with a wire to a pole). It is always advisable to catch the urine after a second of urination, because the first part is distorted by passing through the urethra.

Urine sample has to be examined as soon as possible, because there are bacteria contained in it, which decompose urine products and the result, therefore, can be distorted. If you cannot take the sample for analysis immediately, keep in in a fridge. Examination has to be carried out within 4 hours since animal urination.


Nails clipping

With small dog breeds, it is essential to clip nails.

You need special clippers of reasonable size. If you have a dog with white nails, your situation is much easier, since you can clearly see where the blood vessel ends and the nail should be shortened about 1-2mm before it. With dark nails you need to clip the first nail at times so that you would not cut into blood. Once there is a pinhole on the cutting surface, it is a sign that you should stop.

It is advisable to clip the middle nail on a front leg as the first one and align the neighboring ones with it. Outer nails can usually be slightly more shortened, because they are less abraded.

On hind legs you should clip always outside, nails are more abraded there than on front paws. Quite often it is not necessary to shorten nails on hind legs at all.

If you cut into blood, do not panic, it is OK. If the wound is bleeding somewhat more, bind it with plaster adhesive tape, bleeding will stop fairly quickly.


Emptying of anal glands

You need a rubber disposable glove and a piece of pulp. Smear the index finger in the glove with a lubricant, any fat should do. Lift the tail with the other hand and gently and non-violently (!) slide the forefinger into the rectum. Between the thump, which remains outside and the finger inserted into rectum find both glands by touch. They have a pear shape and are located in the position 4 and 8 o'clock, if you imagine the rectum as a clock. Cover rectum with the pulp, so that the dislodged secretion would not stain you, and start to press and massage the gland with slight pressure. I recommend patience, excessive pressure is the detriment of the cause. After a moment the gland loosens and starts to flow out in optimal case into the attached pulp.


 © This article was taken from the book "Home veterinarian for owners and breeders of dogs and cats" 
and its publication is subject to prior written approval of Grada ©

!!! Further distribution of this article is possible only with the consent of the publisher !!!

Hereby I would like to thank for the consent to publication.


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Michaela Dobešová, DiS.
Severovýchod 640/47, 789 01 Zábřeh
Czech republic

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