Supplies for Your Dog
Table of Contents
A wide variety of collars exist. Leather collars are nice, strong and
sturdy, but they do pick up smells and if they get wet, may become
brittle or start to rot. Nylon stays much cleaner, but may fade,
especially with the brighter colors. Sometimes nylon rips
unexpectedly when encountering something sharp.
A partial listing:
Again, there are many kinds of leashes, in different lengths. You
will probably want a short leash for walking in crowds, a longer leash
for just walking along, and an extra long leash (that could just be
rope) for some training exercises.
You can find a variety of snaps on leashes. The most common is a hook
with a knob that pulls down to open the hook (snap hooks). Another
kind is a hook where the lower part pushes in (spring hooks). The
latter are better as they don't accidentally release. Look for hooks
with swivels to avoid twisting. There are a few hooks that actually screw
closed. They are hard to find but can be useful for some people.
- Flat nylon leashes. The most common. They come in a variety of
colors and lengths.
- Braided rope leashes. These look like the rope used in rock
climbing, with the same colorful patterns. These are sometimes
easier on the hand and are quite sturdy.
- Leather leashes. These range from the plain to the intricately
braided. Take care to keep them out of the water to prevent
brittleness. Inspect them for wear. Shorter ones, two to four feet, are ideal for
- Metal link leashes. Especially if your dog likes to chew on
leashes. Sometimes combined with leather, especially for the
handle. Not a good leash to use with a choke-chain collar.
- Flexi-leads. Developed in Germany, these are spring-loaded,
retractable leashes that have a minimum length of 2.5 feet and
varying maximum lengths. They come in a variety of sizes. The
handle is bulky because it contains the retracting assembly, but
there is a comfortable hand grip. Be careful -- it is easy to get
wrapped up in the flexi-lead and rope-burn yourself or at least
get all tangled. These leashes are ideal for letting the dog
explore around you while you walk along. They are not very good
to use when training your dog because of the amount of give in the
rope even when the length is locked in.
In general you want to get ceramic or metal food dishes. Plastic food
dishes acquire microscopic scratches in which bacteria flourishes.
You should wash the food dishes frequently, just as you do your own.
Always supply fresh water with each meal.
If your dog has long hound ears, you should get the cone-shaped high
dishes that help keep the ears out of the food and water. Otherwise,
any dish will do fine for your dog. There are lots of cute dog dishes
Some of the larger breeds should have their food dishes elevated to
reduce strain on the neck and back. Most mail-order companies carry
metal frames for dishes. You can also try wooden boxes.
Another possibility is to obtain traffic cones and cut the tips off --
food dishes then fit snugly on top.
You should have some way of restraining your dog in the car. This is
for your own safety as well as your dog's. An unrestrained dog
that climbs everywhere may get into the driver's lap and cause havoc.
An unrestrained dog that likes to chew may destroy the interior of the
car. Even an unrestrained dog that lays quietly may be severely
injured if you get into an accident.
There are several types of restraints:
- Harnesses. There are a variety of different restraints that use
the harness and the seat belt to restrain the dog.
- Screens. You can purchase metal screens that fence off an area of
the car for your dog. These are usually used in trucks, sporting vehicles, vans, and
- Crates. You can get a crate to fit your dog and keep it in your
car. This is not feasible for everyone, especially the larger
your dog is and the smaller your vehicle is, but is probably the safest
method of restraint.
- Pickup leashes. There are various ways to restrain a dog in the
back of a pick up truck. These are generally not advisable, but
some people do use them. But if your dog must ride in the back of
a pickup, do use some type of leash. Crates, fastened down, are
- Leashes. You can even use a leash: clip it on your dog, and
either tie the other end to an arm-rest on the door, or close the
door on a loop of it in such a way that the dog's mobility is
quite restricted. Not the best long term solution, but it can
help in a pinch.
Nylabones are best for keeping teeth clean. Followed by either
Gumabones or Nylafloss. Virtually any chew toy has potential
problems, always keep an eye out for them.
- Nylabones are most highly recommended. They cost about 3 times as
much as a rawhide but last for a very long time. Some dogs don't like
them and may need some encouragement; most will happily use them.
Some dogs chow down on them so enthusiastically that they get "slab"
fractures on their teeth. Nylabones should be replaced when the ends
show signs of wear.
- Gumabones are similar to nylabones, but a bit softer and without as
much tooth cleaning ability. The manufacturer says that Gumabones are
more likable and serve as toys, but the Nylabone is necessary to
satisfy frustration chewing and chewing due to a need to chew. Some
dogs have trouble with flatulence when they ingest the small pieces of
gumabone that they chew off. Replace when the toy shows signs of
Note that there are many kinds of toys out there made of soft rubber
-- Gumabones is a particular brand name of a common sort of dog toy.
- A similar toy is the "tuffy" or
(several manufacturers & copycats) -- usually a red cone-shaped toy made of
rubber that is sturdier than the Gumabone variety. It comes in a giant
black size, various smaller red sizes, and one that is white and blue
with a throw strap that floats. These are guaranteed against
destruction. This toy has a hollow center and hiding treats in it can
provide your dog with much enjoyment.
- Nylafloss (also rope bone, booda bone)
- Nylafloss is also well accepted and is the best tooth cleaner of all.
To many dogs, though, it is only interesting when you wave it in the
dog's face. (Nylafloss looks like very a thick, knotted rope.) Watch
out for dogs that like to chew them through and swallow pieces of
- Rawhide is not recommended by most people because the dogs tend to
swallow large pieces, which swell and sometimes block the intestines.
Also, if the shank gets slimy but the knot is still hard, the dog can
swallow the shank and choke on the knot. You can prevent this by
buying rawhide in other shapes, such as chips, or buying shredded and
compressed rawhide treats (although these do not last as long).
Lastly, and much more commonly, they cost a fortune if you have a
mid-to-large dog or a dog with powerful jaws. If you do use them,
look for US-or-locally manufactured ones; imported ones sometimes have
- There are specially treated bones that resist splintering, and you can
hide treats in the hollow center, giving your dog hours of enjoyment
trying to get them out. Untreated organic bones may splinter and
cause tooth wear or even gum and mouth injuries. Eating the pieces
often results in constipation. The best bones are the large ones that
resist splintering. Replace after cracks or splinters appear.
Small bones, especially chicken bones should NEVER be given to a dog.
They will crunch down and swallow the bones, which may lodge in the
throat and choke the dog, puncture the esophagus or stomach lining, or
block the intestines. If your dog is not immediately killed, it will
require expensive surgery to get the bone out of its body.
- Cow hooves
- Cow hooves are better than rawhide because they break down into
smaller pieces and are much cheaper and more durable. However, like
organic bones, they can cause gum and mouth injuries if they chip.
They smell somewhat and may cause tooth wear. Smoked hooves are
available that don't smell as much. Pick out the largest, most solid
hooves; replace when they are worn down to a small piece. Stop using
them if your dog splinters large chunks off them. Slab fractures are
also possible with cow hooves.
- Another item is CHOOZ, by the makers of Nylabones. This item looks
like a nylabone but is crunchy like a hard dog biscuit. It can also
be tossed into your oven or microwave to change its texture (makes it
lighter and more like a hard bread). CHOOZ has been involved in at
least one case of gastric blockage; you may not want to use it.
- Pig's ears
- Pig's ears look like good chew toys, but the truth is that dogs can
eat them in about 15 minutes or so. Dogs love them, but they are not
a chew toy and should be used as an occasional treat instead. Given
too often, they will cause loose stools.
In general, your dog should sleep with you in your room at night.
However, you may still want to provide it with shelter, etc. if you
leave it outside while you are gone, for example.
A variety are available, and you can make your own. In general, look
for an elevated floor and sturdy construction. The dog house should
be placed where it will be cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Be sure it is not placed so as to assist escape over the fence. Many
dogs, particularly larger ones, appreciate a flat roof (make sure it
has a slight slope for drainage) that they can lie on when the weather
is hot. Do not be surprised if your dog does not use the dog house.
If you place bedding in the dog house, be sure to clean it frequently,
otherwise pests such as fleas will take up residence.
You may want to construct a kennel or a dog run for your dog. Use
concrete or pea gravel for the floor to improve drainage. Make sure
the run includes a roofed over area for shelter from the elements.
Clean out the pen daily to prevent worms and disease. Secure the
water supply so that the dog can't tip it over (try a galvanized
bucket with a double-ended hook to fasten it to the wall. If you use
chain link fencing, be sure to put runners through it if you will keep
a bitch in season in it to prevent mismating. The height should be
sufficient to prevent jumping or climbing; some breeds are better at
this than others. A reference to consult is:
Migliorini, Mario. Kennel Building and Management. New York, N.Y. :
Howell Book House, 1987.
Contains a bibliography. Useful tips on how to construct a dog run.
It's oriented toward commercial kennels, but contains lots of useful
tips for the dog owner.
Even if you keep your dog inside, you will want to restrain it from
certain areas of the house. A common way to do this is to use a
child-barrier. Pet stores and mail-order companies stock barriers
sturdy enough for bigger dogs. Examples of restraint might include:
keeping puppies in the kitchen or in areas where there is linoleum,
keeping young dogs in a specific room when going through the teething
stage, keeping your dog downstairs or in the basement, etc.
A common barrier used in dog shows is the x-pen. This is a
eight-sectioned, foldable heavy guage wire fence. The ends are
clipped together to form an approximate 4'X4' square area; or several
x-pens may be clipped together for a larger area. Do not leave a dog
alone in an x-pen; another person should always supervise a dog in an
x-pen. The exception is that this can be suitable to restrain a small
puppy with, especially if the x-pen is propped so that it cannot fall
A crate is another restraint, this has already been described above.
You should give your dog its own bed. Try folded up towels for young
puppies. There are a variety of beds for the fully grown dog -- try
any of them. Be careful with cedar-filled beds. There are reports
that cedar reacts with urine to produce poisonous fumes. You should
not let your dog sleep on the bed with you, instead insist that it
sleep on the floor next to the bed.
There are several steps you can take to increase the chances of your
dog being returned to you if lost, or to decrease the chances of your
dog being stolen.
By far the most important piece of information on your pet's tag is
your telephone number, including the area code. Everything else is
just optional. Some people do not like to put their dog's name on the
collar, as that can make it easier for a thief to coax your dog along
with its name. The choice is up to you. Attach the tag to your dog's
collar securely. Do not use the "S" hooks -- many tags are lost that
way. Use the keyring type of attachment, or better yet, have the tag
riveted onto the collar.
Of course, one problem with tags is that they are easily removed
simply by removing the collar.
There are a few services with which you can register a pet tag and
you get an ID number and an 800 number for the person who finds your
dog to call. Depending on the service, they will guarantee pickup of your
pet, necessary veterinary attention and hold the dog until they can contact
Get your dog tattooed. Tattoos cannot be removed or lost. This will
help identify your dog and get it returned to you (most animal
shelters will not destroy a tattooed dog). It helps deter theft and
ensures that your pet will not wind up in a laboratory somewhere.
Your vet can give you pointers to someone who can tattoo your pet. RC
Steele sells a do-it-yourself kit, worth considering if you have
Tattooing is an excellent way to protect your pets. In fact, there
are animal science laboratories and vet clinics around the country
that sponsor low-cost tattoo clinics and tattoo "fairs."
Get the tattoo put on the inside of your dog's thigh. This is much
harder to remove than one placed in your pet's ear. As long as the
dog is over 5 weeks of age, it can be tattooed. The younger the
better -- puppies are more easily controlled than adult dogs are.
You must get the tattoo number registered, or it isn't very useful in
locating you. If you use a national registry, use a number
that will not change. (Social security numbers are good.) There is a
one-time fee for registering the number, and you can then register
other pets with the same number.
Anesthesia is not *required* to do a tattoo, though it can help. You
might consider having your bitch spayed and tattooed at the same time,
You should note that tattooing (or micro-chipping) is a prerequisite
for registering a pure-bred dog in some countries, such as Canada.
Unfortunately, tattoos can fade over time. Also, especially in
double-coated or long-haired breeds, it may be hard to find the tattoo
when the hair grows back. You can keep the area shaven, of course,
but your dog might be lost long enough for the hair to grow back.
An alternative increasingly popular throughout North America is the
injected microchip. The microchip contains a numbering system that
is readable with a scanner. There are three manufacturers and four
microchips that have been produced. AVID is marketed by AVID and
IdentIchip. Trovan is a German company and their technology is
marketed by Infopet. Destron is marketed under a variety of names in
the US and by Anitech in Canada. The AVID scanner can read all chips
but the Trovan chip. Destron readers can scan all manufacturers chips.
Each company has their own database you can register with. Each
microchip has a code that is assigned to you
(or your kennel) and your pets, Some of the information that is kept
on file are extra emergency numbers to have contacted should your pet
be impounded or taken to an animal hospital due to injury or
illness. Your vet's name and number are also included along with any
important medical info about your animal. This is important for
animals that have life threatening medical conditions that need
constant treatment. Keep this information up to date!
Not all shelters check for the chip, but increasing numbers are doing
so in the US. There are no documented cases of medical problems
related to the insertion of the chip just under the skin. Since
tattoos can fade over time, this is an alternative to consider. It
takes about 2 minutes to insert the chip and fill out the form. After
that, all you have to do is pay yearly dues.
You generally want to be sure that the person doing it has medical
training for sterility and health reasons. The chip must be placed
between the shoulder blades and not migrate (effectively disappearing).
Note that rare occurrence of chip migration does not hurt the dog, but
it can make it difficult to read the chip. It's suggested that you have
the chip read periodically to make sure it's still in place.
The chip itself is about the size and shape of a grain of rice, The
needle is hollow and on the end of a syringe that contains the chip,
about 3mm wide. Once in, the chip is inserted with the plunger from
the syringe and it is done in about 20 seconds.
Who can I contact?
An article in the August 1993 issue of Dog Fancy goes into this
further. It's called "Beyond Dog Tags" and is on page 27. This
article lists all the microchip companies, tag registries, and tattoo
registries and discusses each of these methods of protecting your dog.
Briefly, these are:
- AVID in California (714) 371-7505, nationwide (800) 336-AVID
- Destron in Colorado (303) 444-5306 (Uses Destron chip)
- IdentIchip in Scottsdale, AZ (800) 926-1313 (Uses AVID chip)
(Provides programs for breeders, shelters, and vets.)
- InfoPet in Pennsylvania (612) 890-2080 (Uses Trovan chip)
also (800) 463-6738
- Home Again, microchip registry in conjuction with the AKC (For
both purebred and mixed breed dogs). Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 911-Pets Lost Pet Service Chicago (312) 890-4911
- Petfinders New York (800) 666-LOST or (800) 666-5678
- Pet Find Inc. Oregon (800) AID-A-PET
(generally also register microchips, etc)
Animal thefts do happen, this is a fear of pet owners everywhere.
First of all, if your dog is missing or stolen, you have a
responsibility to report it to the police. They may not always be
able to do anything about it, but if they get several reports, then
they can justify putting some time on it. Don't make the mistake of
thinking that you are bothering the police!
Call the shelters and the local vets and tell them of your loss, they
can be on the lookout for your dog. Most vets will take a description
of your dog and contact others in the area to keep an eye out for it.
Put up flyers in the immediate area. If your dog has been tattooed or
micro-chipped, it may show up shortly.
Some more information: Stolen for Profit, authored by Judith
Reitmen, discusses animal dealers licensed to supply "random source
animals" to research labs. The number to report a missing or
suspected-stolen animal is 800-StolenPet - this is a automated
recording. Their reach-a-live-human number is (415) 453-9984. They
can tell you if there have been other reported missing or stolen dogs
in your area (if, of course, other people reported to them). Bear in mind
that some of these are unnecessarily alarmist type of organizations, but
they can still be useful in helping locate a lost pet.
Supplies for Your Dog FAQ