Animal Care Services

Dog Care

Cleaning your dog's ears

You will need cotton balls, a bottle of ear cleaner, a large bath towel, and ear medications if indicated by your veterinarian. You may need assistance to restrain your dog while completing the cleaning, especially if your dog is larger. Smaller dogs may be restrained simply by wrapping a large bath towel around them.

  • Lift the earflap, insert the tip of the bottle of ear cleaner into the ear canal and gently squeeze the fluid into the ear.
  • Quickly fold the earflap over and gently massage the ear canal, moving the ear canal up and down to encourage the waxy debris to work out of the ear.
  • Let your dog shake some of the cleaner out of his ears.
  • Wipe the excess fluid and debris out of the ear canal using the cotton balls. It is safe to clean visible crevasses with a Q-tip if needed.
  • Wait several hours after cleaning before using prescribed ear medications.
  • Praise your dog throughout the process and reward him or her for good behavior with a favorite treat.

Clean your dog’s ears following bathing, swimming, playing in the snow or any time water may enter the ear, or per recommendation from your veterinarian.

Fear of loud noises

Noise anxiety and fear is extremely common for dogs. In fact, experts estimate that anywhere from 5 to 15 million dogs in our country have severe enough anxiety that owners seek out help from veterinarians to deal with it.

Symptoms can range from mild shaking to destructive behavior to running away, but owners often find it difficult to pinpoint the fear or the trigger. Dogs are most commonly afraid of thunder, fireworks and loud cars, but anxiety can be triggered by association. For example, a camera flash may remind a dog of lightning and trigger his fear of thunder even if there is no sound.

When your dog becomes anxious, your first reaction may be to attempt to console. Experts discourage this, however, because dogs are sensitive to their owners’ moods. Unusual behavior on your part will only make the dog believe he should be afraid.

How to easy your dog’s fear

  • Change the environment – Have a safe place for your dog, like a bed, blanket wrapped crate or basement corner. Choose a place that muffles the noise, or try to mask the noise, like with a television or radio.
  • Use a Thundershirt, which provides gentle, steady pressure around your dog’s torso and may be comforting.
  • Try to desensitize your dog by exposing him to the noise he fears at low levels and gradually increasing the sound. Your calm behavior may cause him to relax and become accustomed to the noise.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about medications or pheromone replication. There are several products available that imitate natural pheromones given off by mother dogs to calm their puppies.

For more information about helping your dog deal with thunder storms, click here.

Pilling your dog


Whenever possible, give your dog medication by hiding it in food they like to eat. A pill wrapped in cheese or peanut butter or tucked into a pill pocket treat is the easiest way to get needed medication into your dog. You may offer them a plain piece of cheese or treat first, then one with the pill. You may encourage your dog to swallow the pill by quickly offering a third treat.

If your dog won’t take a pill hidden in a treat, place the pill directly in your dog’s mouth by following these steps:

  • Grasp the upper jaw by placing your hand on top of her nose and insert your thumb and index finger behind the canine teeth.
  • Pull her nose upwards, causing her mouth to open slightly.
  • Hold the pill between the thumb and index finger of your other hand and use your ring finger and pinkie to gently push down on the lower jaw.
  • Place the pill at the back of your dog’s mouth and close it; gently stroke her throat, rub her nose, or blow on her nose to stimulate swallowing.
  • If you have liquid medication, grasp your dog’s nose the same way and place the filled eyedropper or syringe behind the canine teeth; slowly dribble the liquid into your dog’s mouth until she swallows.
  • Praise and reward your dog after giving any medication.

Puppies, People and biting


Consistent and firm training is the best way to deal with unacceptable puppy behavior. The following suggestions may help you prevent puppy biting before it becomes a problem.

  • All mouthing is considered biting and should not be allowed.
  • Be consistent – all family members must do the same training techniques and enforce rules consistently.
  • Grabbing the dog’s muzzle is not recommended. Instead, gently put your finger under the dog’s tongue, hold it there without applying pressure and say, “No bite.” This is frustrating and unpleasant for the dog.
  • Avoid tug-of-war games and other activities that may stimulate aggressive tendencies.
  • Supervise puppies and children, especially young children, and step in quickly if play becomes aggressive. You may remove the puppy from the situation to a place designated for the puppy to calm down.
  • Substitute a specific toy when your puppy attempts to bite or mouth your hand, teaching him to bring you a toy when he wants to play.
  • Ask your veterinarian for suggestions of products that may help in training your puppy.

Good ideas for dog owners

  • Children and dogs should always have adult supervision when playing together.
  • Teach dogs to ask nicely for things such as food, toys, and treats. Dogs should have to sit for these items and learn to take them gently.
  • Do not allow dogs and puppies on the furniture at least during the initial training and introduction phases.
  • Do not wrestle with your new dog or puppy and do not allow him in a room where people are wrestling. Your dog learns how to play by watching and by how you play with him. Wrestling or playing rough encourages rough play with others, potentially leading to injury.
  • Do not allow your dog to bite or mouth even if it seems playful.
  • Teach your dog a command word to stop rowdy behavior.
  • Put away items that are not dog/puppy appropriate, such as plants, clothing, trash, children’s toys, etc.
  • Crate your dog or puppy if he or she will not have adult supervision.
  • Never leave dogs and puppies alone outdoors. They can easily get into trouble, get tangled, eat something toxic or swallow an object.

Dog Vaccines

Puppies will typically begin receiving vaccinations at six to eight weeks and then at continuing intervals as recommended by your veterinarian until one year to 16 months. Adult dogs receive needed vaccinations annually at their well check. The rabies vaccination is required by law in Ohio, as this virus is fatal to all mammals, including humans.

Essential vaccinations

  • Rabies – Given at 3 to 6 months; booster at 1 year, then every 3 years.
  • Distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza and parvovirus (DHPP) – Given at about 8 weeks and boostered twice at three-week intervals, then given annually.

May be recommended

  • Leptospirosis – Prevalent in moist climates; may be given as part of the DHPP (DHLPP).
  • Bordetella (kennel cough) – A contagious upper respiratory infection; vaccine recommended for dogs that frequent boarding kennels, doggie daycare or dog parks.
  • Lyme Disease – Carried by ticks; a growing problem in the Great Lakes area, including Northeast Ohio.
  • Canine Influenza – A viral upper respiratory infection prevalent in animal shelters and boarding kennels.

How to Choose The Best Dog Food

Your food choices for your dog will affect his or her overall quality of life. Unfortunately, knowing what is best can be a challenge, from understanding your dog’s needs to understanding the ingredients listed on food packaging. Your veterinarian can help you narrow the list, but rest assured, if your dog is active and fit and produces a firm stool, your food choice is probably okay.

There are some guidelines you can follow as you consider the many food options available to your puppy, young dog and adult dog.

  • Dogs need different nutrients in different quantities at different times in their lives. An “all life stages” food is a good choice for a dog that is no longer a puppy but not yet elderly.
  • Dogs eat mostly meat, but they also can get many essential vitamins, minerals and fiber from vegetables, grains and fruit.
  • Grain-free may be necessary for a dog with a food allergy. Otherwise, consider foods with grains and quality animal byproducts for the additional nutrients they provide.
  • Quality animal byproducts include organ meats and entrails, not hooves, hair, floor sweepings, intestinal contents or manure. If you aren’t sure about the quality of a food, ask your veterinarian.
  • Look for foods that are labeled as meeting the nutritional levels established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials for complete and balanced nutrition for dogs.

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