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Dog Care

General tips for looking after your dog

As a dog owner, you will be aware of the responsibilities that come with owning and caring for your dog. However, you will also benefit from the incredibly rewarding and pleasurable experience dog ownership brings.

In time, with the correct dog training and care, your puppy or dog will hopefully become a well-adjusted adult who is a pleasure to own and a credit to you and the dog society at large.

Keeping your dog safe


  • Ensure your dog always has an accessible clean supply of fresh drinking water – dogs can easily dehydrate, especially if it is warm or your dog is anxious.
  • Ensure your garden is escape proof – many larger dogs can jump or scale fences less than two metres high.
  • Always keep your dog on a short (not an extending) lead near roads and livestock.
  • Lock away all medicines, cleaning products and dangerous chemicals – dogs, especially puppies tend to be inquisitive.
  • Keep all chocolate, cocoa powder, raisins, grapes and macadamia nuts shut away, as these are poisonous to dogs.
  • Use a car harness, crate or fitted case when travelling in the car with your dog.
  • Keep your dog inside on fireworks night, and keep it on a lead when outside.


  • Never leave your dog in a warm or hot car (even with the windows open) as it could suffer very quickly from heatstroke and kill or seriously harm the dog!
  • Do not use cocoa shell mulch in your garden as this can cause illness and death.
  • Do not use rat poison, slug pellets, weedkillers, fertilizers (especially bonemeal) or insecticides that are dangerous to dogs.
  • Do not let your dog hang its head out of an open car window – it might look cute but it can be very dangerous for both the driver and the dog!
  • Always take care to make sure your dog cannot run out of an open front door or escape through an open window.
  • Never leave your dog alone tied up outside a shop in case it gets stolen.

Taking Care of Your New Puppy

Introducing Your New Puppy

When they first arrive home, your puppy will probably feel a little apprehensive and will be missing the companionship of his/her mother and littermates. To make this transition stress-free, here are a few tips to help your puppy relax into their new home:

  • When you go to collect your new puppy, take a warm blanket with you so that you can wipe it over both the puppy’s mother and its siblings, enabling you to retain the scent of them both despite them not being there.
  • Have a soft toy in your home ready for your new puppy as it will replace their playing with their siblings.
  • Allow the puppy to explore their new surroundings without too much interference or noise.
  • Children should be reminded that the new puppy needs lots of love and also rest therefore should not be over handled.
  • Any other family pets should be introduced to the new arrival slowly and under close supervision.

Living quarters

It’s a good idea to section off a part of your house such as the kitchen for your puppy. Provide him/her with a blanket, basket, crate or box to curl-up in. Your puppy is used to being cuddled up with his/her brothers and sisters so may cry when put it to bed for the first couple of nights or when left alone. You can place a ticking clock under the blanket to simulate the mother’s heartbeat and/or a hot water bottle in the bed to keep him/her warm (but not too hot because puppies chew!).

You may decide that you want your puppy to sleep in your bedroom with you. This is fine but remember, if you change your mind later on it may be hard to convince your pup that the kitchen or outside kennel is just as cosy!

During the day or when left alone, always make sure your puppy has somewhere to shelter from the weather both sun and rain, and of course has a plentiful supply of fresh, clean drinking water.


Avoid overfeeding – it can lead to obesity in later life.

Feed your puppy on high energy foods such as Europa Super Premium Puppy/Junior dog food – puppies have a limited capacity in the stomach and thus are only able to eat a smaller quantity of food each meal. The profile of a high quality puppy food should be as follows:

  • Higher protein and fat (but not too high so as to promote excessive growth).
  • Higher protein – Maintenance plus protein to build new tissue associated with growth.
  • Small breeds grow at a much faster rate and reach maturity earlier and as such need a different nutrient profile to larger breed puppies.
  • The most rapid period of growth for all puppies is between 3 and 5 months of age.
  • The Europa Super Premium Puppy/Junior dog food caters for all of the above, ensuring your puppy has the best possible nutritional start in life.

Overfeeding should be avoided especially in large and giant breed puppies – this can result in increased number of fat cells and higher total body fat during adulthood.

Your puppy should be fed on a complete and balanced diet especially formulated to suit his/her stage of life. We recommend a dry super premium brand puppy food such as Europa Puppy / Junior 1-12 months, as it is made from high quality ingredients and provides all the nourishment your puppy needs. Changes in diet should be made gradually as sudden changes can cause diarrhoea and other problems (please see the section on “Changing to Europa Super Premium Dog Food”).

Puppies only have small stomachs and require small meals often. Three to four meals spread throughout the day is best.

Keeping your puppy bright and active

To keep your pup’s bright little mind active, supply a good range of toys such as Kongs, treat balls, Buster Cubes, Rope Chews, Bones etc (take care when giving bones to your dog as certain bones from certain animals might be harmful to your dog - ask your vet or breeder for advice on which types of bones are most suitable). These toys and treats can be rotated over a period of a week, so there is always something new for your puppy to play with. Be careful when choosing toys. Puppies can break off and swallow small pieces of plastic, which could make them ill.

House Training

There are certain signs you should watch out for that will alert you that your puppy needs to go outside. These include:

  • If your puppy walks around in circles.
  • Sits or whines at the door.
  • Sniffs at the ground.

There are also times when you should ensure that you take your puppy outside to prevent accidents.

  • First thing in the morning.
  • After every sleep.
  • After being left alone for a period of time.
  • After every meal.
  • Last thing before you put your puppy to bed.

Of course accidents will happen! If you catch your puppy in the act you should immediately take him/her outside. NEVER spank your puppy, rub their nose in it, or reprimand him/her after an accident has occurred. A puppy is too young to be able to connect this with what he has done wrong.

Using praise is the best method of training. Puppies only want to please their owners. Give your puppy lots of praise whenever they do the right thing.


The peak socialisation period in your puppy’s life occurs immediately after it has been vaccinated i.e. between the ages of 12 to 24 weeks. It is during this phase that your puppy needs to become accustomed to as many new experiences as possible. At this age a puppy will quickly and willingly learn many training commands including sit, stay, come and heel. He/she will need to be house trained and learn to walk on a lead.

We recommend taking your puppy to dog training classes. These classes are great fun for owners and puppies alike and are a must for any pet owner wanting a well-behaved, sociable dog.


Your puppy will make mistakes from time to time. Most of these mistakes are natural puppy behaviours. It is up to you to teach your puppy right from wrong in the human world. Patience, praise and commitment will assist your puppy in developing into a well behaved, loyal companion.


Your dog should have attached to it a dog tag with your family name, telephone number and post code.

NEVER put the dog’s name on the tag – you don’t want a dog thief calling your dog by its name.

We also recommend you use a more permanent form of identification such as a microchip. The microchip is painlessly injected under the skin (normally on one of their front legs) and can be read by a special scanner used by animal welfare officers, welfare organisations and all veterinarians. Your pet’s details are kept on a national database so you can be contacted and re-united with your pet should they ever be lost.

Healthcare and your puppy


Some canine diseases are very serious and can be fatal even with treatment. Highly effective vaccinations are available to help prevent some of these diseases. At 8 weeks of age, puppies should receive their first vaccination; this is temporary and needs to be followed up with another one at 12 weeks. After the 12 week vaccination you can then take your puppy out into public areas. Your puppy will need annual boosters throughout its life.

Dental Care

More than 85% of dogs over four years old will experience some form of gum disease which can lead to irreversible damage to their teeth and potentially to other organs in the body. Prevention is possible with a well balanced diet such as feeding your puppy on Europa Super Premium Puppy 1-12 months, together with giving your dog certain types of raw bones (contact your vet or breeder for more advice on which bones are appropriate), specifically formulated dental bones on a weekly basis, regular dental check-ups (should be included by your vet at your dog’s annual visit). Never brush your puppy’s teeth as in later life the pain they experienced whilst teething can return by association if you brush your dog’s teeth as an adult.

De-sexing (Spading or Neutering)

As well as reducing the number of unwanted puppies, de-sexing prevents pets from roaming, fighting or causing nuisance to neighbours. In females it significantly reduces the risk of uterine infections and mammary cancer and in males, cancer of the prostate gland. At your puppy’s first check up, speak with your vet regarding the optimum time to perform this surgery.


A dog affected by Heartworm will have an infestation of long thin worms (up to 30cm in length!) lodged in the heart and feed on surrounding blood. Mosquitoes spread immature stages of heartworm when they bite dogs. Prevention is the best approach to this problem and relatively simple. Various products are available including monthly spot-ons and an annual injection. Puppies can start heartworm prevention from 12 weeks of age.

Flea control

All pets will be exposed to fleas at some stage so rather than letting an infestation develop, it is better to use a regular prevention treatment. There are a range of very safe and easy to use drops which are applied monthly and can be used on your pups at any age.


Puppies should be wormed every 2 weeks until 12 weeks of age and then every month until 6 months of age, then every 3 months routinely. Worming should be performed regardless of whether worms are seen in droppings or not, as many worms are too small to be seen with the naked eye.

Coat care

Regular brushing is important – daily brushing is best particularly with long-haired dogs, especially as it helps to create a physical bond between you and your dog. Shampoo only when necessary, using a good quality dog shampoo, never a human shampoo. Ask your local pet store for a shampoo to suit your dog. Further to this, Europa Super Premium Puppy 1-12 months contains both Omega 3 and 6 and as such will also help to keep your dog's coat both shiny and healthy.


Healthy ears are clean and dry. Signs of ear problems include shaking the head, scratching at the ears, odour or discharge from the ears and holding the head on one side. Ear problems should be checked by a veterinarian.

A note on using human medications

DO NOT give un-prescribed medications to your dog without checking with a vet first. Even aspirin and paracetamol can be dangerous if given incorrectly, especially if your pet is on medication or has a medical condition.

Something isn’t quite right?

If your puppy appears listless, lethargic, off their food or if you have any concerns about your puppy’s well being, please call your local vet as soon as possible.

Taking Care of Your Adult Dog

All responsible dog owners want to keep their dogs healthy. You love your dog, and you want him or her to be healthy and happy. Help keep your dog on the path to wellness with these dog health guidelines.

Expert Veterinary Care

High-quality veterinary care sets the foundation for your dog’s overall health. Find a vet you can trust and visit regularly. Ideally, routine wellness examinations should be performed by your vet yearly. Puppies and senior dogs should be seen even more frequently. If your dog has special needs, a chronic health condition or other illness, comply with your vet’s recommendations. Because your dog ages at a faster rate than you, many subtle changes can develop over a six to twelve month period. Routine visits allow your vet to closely monitor changes before your dog’s health gets out of control. Learn how to effectively communicate with your vet and you can expect the same in return. If you can develop a good connection with your vet, it can lead to long-term benefit for you and your dog.

Optimum Nutrition

Proper nutrition is a fundamental for keeping all dogs healthy. Diet directly affects your dog’s skin and coat, weight, energy level, gastrointestinal function and overall health and wellbeing. If a problem occurs in one of these areas, it may be linked to improper diet. Ensure you choose a high quality dog food such as the Europa Super Premium Adult Nutrition range. Once you find the right food for your dog, use that food consistently. Watch your dog’s response to the diet over 4-8 weeks. How does his or her coat look? It should be shiny and free of flakes, but not greasy. Have you noticed a change in their energy level? A decrease in energy could indicate a problem. Have they lost or gained weight?

Obesity in dogs is a very common problem which can often be reversed with proper diet and exercise (if your dog tends to gain weight then we would recommend your dog changing to Europa Super Premium Senior /Low Calorie). Excess weight loss may occur if your dog does not find the food palatable. If their response to the diet is poor, it may be time to look into other foods. A sudden change in dog foods can cause gastrointestinal upset, so switch over gradually unless otherwise directed by your vet (please follow our guide on Changing to Europa Super Premium Dog Food.

Routine Exercise

Many dog owners underestimate their dogs’ exercise needs in relation to keeping their dog healthy. Destructive behaviour may lead to a diagnosis of separation anxiety or other behavioural problems. While these conditions truly exist, in many cases the behaviour is actually the result of an energy surplus. If you feed your dog a healthy diet such as the Super Premium Adult Nutrition range, it should give him or her plenty of energy. However, if your dog can’t release that energy with exercise, it may be released on your furniture, carpet, doorways or even your prized collection of rare books.

Before you blame your dog for the damage, ask yourself if he or she is getting enough exercise. In general, dogs need at least 1-2 hours of exercise per day, but this varies by breed, size and age. Over time, determine the ideal exercise regime for your dog and establish a routine. You might even notice an improvement in your own health in the meantime!

Dental Care

It can be all too easy to forget about your dog's teeth until you get a whiff of bad breath – yes the dreaded “dog breath!” Plaque and tartar build-up can lead to serious health problems, and not just those related to the mouth. Don't wait until dental disease is present - start focusing on dental care right now, if you nave not already.

Feeding your dog on any member of the Europa Super Premium range of dog food will assist in your dog’s oral care as the size of the kibble or biscuit we use helps to remove tartar and plaque build up. Further to this, you can brush your dog's teeth (using a special dog tooth paste), use canine oral rinses, feed it dental treats or all of the above. And don't forget to talk to your vet about your dog's teeth. Professional cleanings may be necessary from time to time.

Regular Grooming

Grooming is not just for “fancy” dogs. All dogs need some degree of basic physical upkeep. In general, your dog’s grooming needs will be based on their breed. However, your dog may have special needs due to certain health conditions such as allergies. The average short-haired dog will benefit from a monthly nail trim, bath and brushing. Long-haired dogs should be brushed out daily. Dogs with continuously growing hair may need a haircut every week or two. Once you determine your dog’s grooming needs, decide if it will be you doing it yourself or if you need to hire a professional. Either way, schedule a grooming session for your dog on a regular basis.

Watch for Warning Signs

Because dogs cannot speak in words, we must rely on the signs they give us when it comes to analyzing our dog's health. Your dog may exhibit a variety of signs that indicate a health problem. Just like you, your dog can develop a mild illness that resolves on its own, so not all signs are cause for alarm. However, many dogs will instinctively try to conceal signs of serious illness. Learn what to watch out for and how to act appropriately before the illness becomes out of control. If your dog is displaying signs of illness, contact your vet right away.

Caring for an Older Dog


Everyone gets older, and dogs are no exception. Fortunately, with advances in veterinary medicine, dogs are living longer than ever. This makes it essential that we learn how to properly care for our senior dogs. As your dog's caregiver, there are many ways you can help make his or her golden years comfortable and happy. Senior dogs are such a delight, and these sweet old souls deserve the very best of everything.

When is a Dog Considered a Senior?

As a general rule, a dog is considered senior around the age of seven. However, this varies a bit for each dog and dog breed. The typical life span of a dog is said to be 12-15 years. Smaller dog breeds tend to live longer on average, while large and giant dog breeds have shorter life spans.

Therefore, a small dog is considered a senior at an older age, such as age 8-10. In turn, a large breed dog may be considered a senior by age 5-6. Some dogs may appear to age faster than others; this may be due to genetic background and overall health.

  • Your dog’s body becomes less able to tolerate excesses and borderline deficiencies.
  • It’s ability to respond to dietary changes may be decreased, so when changing from an adult food to a more appropriate senior dog food, such as Europa Senior / Low Calorie, we strongly recommend you following the guidelines laid out in our section entitled “Changing to Europa Super Premium Dog Food”.
  • Bespoke Senior dog foods such as Europa Senior / Low Calorie are formulated with special nutrients designed to support physiological changes.
  • Your dog’s energy requirements are reduced due to a decrease in activity and as such their food ad nutritional requirements should be take into consideration. Try Europa Senior / Low Calorie as it has 15% less fat than our Adult Nutrition range.
  • Your dog may experience a decrease in their renal function and as such will require a food that has a reduced protein content such as Europa Senior / Low Calorie.
  • The quality of the protein should be high as this will help to build and repair muscle mass as skeletal muscle mass reduces - Europa Senior / Low Calorie uses a very high quality protein source.
  • The addition of supplements to your dog’s diet such as glucosamine (joint care) might also aid with their wellbeing and quality of life, with certain quality dog foods such as Europa Senior / Low Calorie already containing this within its recipe.

Things to look out for

One of the most common signs owners report as their dogs age is an overall "slowing down." They notice their dogs have less endurance when exercising and may be slow to rise out of bed. They may be tentative on stairs and less enthusiastic about toys, games and/or food. Some owners notice that their dogs have less patience in some situations, such as around active, children or excited dogs. Sometimes, owners see that their dogs are confused, disoriented or less responsive then they were in their youth. Older dogs may also have urinary or fecal accidents in the house.

While all of the above signs are commonly seen with aging, they are not usually the result of the aging itself, but actually symptoms of various health problems. The following health problems are commonly associated with geriatric dogs:

  • Arthritis - Just like people, many dogs develop arthritis as they age. The most common form of arthritis seen in aging dogs is Osteoarthritis, also called Degenerative Joint Disease. This condition affects the weight-bearing joints (hips, knees, elbows, shoulders), causing loss of lubricating fluids, wearing away of cartilage and abnormal bony growth. These joint changes result in pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion. Osteoarthritis is progressive, meaning it gets worse over time. Though there is no cure, there are treatments that can slow progression and ease pain such as the addition of Glucosamine to their diet - Europa Super Premium Senior / Low Calorie has Glucosamine in its recipe.
  • Obesity - A dog can become overweight at any age, but the effects of aging make weight gain more likely in seniors. Obesity can cause or complicate heath problems like arthritis, heart disease and diabetes. To prevent obesity in older dogs, decrease food amount as your dog slows down and we recommend feeding them on a lower calorie food specifically designed for older, overweight dogs such as Europa Super Premium Senior / Low Calorie. Also, make sure your dog keeps exercising. If endurance is an issue, consider going for multiple short walks in a day rather than one or two very long walks.
  • Deafness - It is common for older dogs to gradually lose their hearing. Nerve degeneration in older dogs typically results in gradual hearing loss. Nothing can be done to stop the deafness but much can be done to help the dog adapt. Many owners will at first mistake hearing loss for dementia, as dogs may display a similar type of confusion. Fortunately, deafness in dogs is fairly easy to handle. Because it doesn't happen overnight, it gives you time to adapt. Try specific methods of deaf dog training, such as the use of hand signals. Soon, you will find that the hearing loss hardly affects your dog's day-to-day life.
  • Blindness - Like deafness, many older dogs experience gradual loss of vision. This is usually due to degenerative changes in the eye, but can be caused by an eye disease such as cataracts. If you think your dog is going blind, be sure to visit your vet. If the blindness is simply due to old age, nothing can be done to reverse it. Fortunately, dogs rely less on their eyesight than you might think. Just be sure to take it slow with your dog, keep him or her on leash at all times if outdoors, and try to avoid moving the furniture around in your house. Once your dog knows the layout, he or she will probably get around well using their other senses.
  • Chronic Kidney Disease - Aging takes a toll on the kidneys, so it is common for older dogs to develop kidney disease. Chronic kidney (renal) disease is usually a gradual process that begins as renal insufficiency and progresses to full renal failure. There is no cure for this disease, but there are fortunately many ways to treat it, prolonging quality and quantity of life. The sooner kidney disease is caught, the more that can be done to slow the progression. Early kidney changes may be picked up on routine blood work, which is why it is so important for your senior dog to visit the vet every six months. Signs of kidney disease include increased thirst and/or urination, loss of appetite, nausea and lethargy.
  • Dementia/Cognitive Dysfunction - Dogs can develop mental changes as they age that are similar to dementia and Alzheimer's Disease in humans. The signs are subtle at first, but can become very severe, resulting in poor quality of life. Signs of dementia in dogs include disorientation, confusion, pacing/wandering, standing in corners as if lost, going to the wrong side of an opening door, vocalization, withdrawal/not interacting with family as much, urinary/faecal accidents, change in sleeping patterns, restlessness and more. Many of these can be symptoms of other diseases, so be sure to see your vet. There is no cure for dementia or cognitive dysfunction, but there are medications and supplements that may help in some cases.
  • Incontinence - Old age changes to the organs, muscles and nerves in the body can make it harder for your dog to "hold it" the way he used to. Incontinence can be a sign of many different diseases, so it is essential to have your vet rule some things out. If there are no other health problems found, you will simply need to adjust your schedule to let your dog out for "potty breaks" more often.
  • Cancer - Unfortunately, cancer is all too common in dogs. Though younger pets can get cancer, it is seen much more frequently in older pets. Different cancers cause different symptoms, so it can be easy to dismiss certain signs as simple old age changes. This is why routine wellness screening with your vet is so important. An examination, lab work or diagnostic imaging can easily pick up on something unseen by the naked eye. Cancer treatment options vary depending on the type of cancer and the stage. The sooner it is caught, the better the chance of survival.
  • Growths and Tumours - Older dogs tend to get various lumps and bumps. These should be checked by a vet to rule out cancer. Fortunately, these growths are often benign warts and moles or fatty tumours. Generally, they will not need to be surgically removed unless they are bothering the dog.

Adapting to Your Senior Dog

There are some changes you can make in your dog's life that will help in his or her transition to senior status. Most of these require little sacrifice on your part and will make a positive difference for you dog.

  • See your vet every six months instead of once per year for wellness exams and health screenings. Budget for lab work and diagnostic imaging if recommended.
  • Change to a senior dog food formula such as Europa Super Premium Senior / Low Calorie. Europa’s carefully balanced Senior/ Low Calorie food has been nutritionally formulated to contain fewer calories (to prevent weight gain), higher nutrient levels and lower protein (taking less of a toll on aging kidneys).
  • If your dog's endurance is declining or he is having trouble getting around, take slower, shorter walks several times a day rather than one or two long, brisk walks. However, do not stop exercise or significantly decrease it - your dog still needs to be active.
  • For dogs having trouble getting around: use ramps on stairs or for getting up to furniture; place down mats with gripped bottoms on slick floors.
  • Get a high-quality orthopaedic dog bed. The extra cost is worth it when you consider how much more comfortable it will be for your dog's old and achy body.
  • Allow your dog access to the outdoors for potty breaks more frequently. Also consider putting down papers or absorbent pads for accidents.
  • Be patient and give lots of extra TLC!