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Health care for your dog

Grooming

The all weather coat is easy to care for, requiring little attention. In warm weather climates, this breed is an average shedder; use a metal comb when the dog is shedding for easy removal of the lose hair from the undercoat. Like other Arctic dogs, the Karelian Bear Dog does not have doggie odor. Since their coats repel dirt, baths are rarely needed.

Exercise

The Karelian Bear Dog is a very energetic dog and should be exercised each day. Like any breed, if it does not get enough exercise, it will become bored and may be destructive inside the house. If you live in an urban environment, make sure your yard is well-fenced. A Karelian can jump a fence that is five feet high. We have been very successful training our California Karelians to an invisible fence.

And don't forget, dog obedience training is important to ensure the safety and enjoyment of your Karelian Bear Dog. Mastering the stay (below) and come (above) commands with your dog are critical safety skills.

Food

The store-bought food we use for our dogs is a mixture of Canidae (for all ages) and Chicken Soup brand (yes, that's the name of the brand) puppy and adult dog foods (both dry and wet) because of their high quality. We feed the puppy versions up to the age of nine months. Generally, we have found that pet food purchased in grocery stores does not meet the same standard of nutrition to support the growth and maintenance of our active dogs. Feed stores and online ordering may represent a good choice for KBD owners. While you can also find a variety of prepared raw and frozen meat products and supplements marketed to the nutritional needs of sporting dogs, we continue to believe that the foods we feed are extremely well balanced and healthful for the dogs.

Each day, we supplement the "prepared foods" above with boiled chicken breast and brown rice. After cooking the chicken, we use the broth to cook the rice. We also add ground flax seed (and flax seed oil, about once a week) The chicken and rice add moisture to the dogs' diet.

On working/training days, where the dogs are going into the field to do aggressive work, breakfast consists of a few chunks of chicken. In cold weather, warm chicken broth is added to the chunks of chicken. Their regular solid-food meal is fed later in the day, once the heavy work is completed.

These same foods form the foundation of our puppies' diet. For the first few weeks they are offered solid food, we grind their dry food until they are able to chew comfortably. Up to about 10 weeks of age, we add warm goats milk, cottage cheese, boiled white rice, and occassionally boiled chicken breast to the puppies' food. If we have any diarrhea, we add a little ground flax seed to their food (rather than administer medication).

Treats as training motivation

Generally, we do not give our dogs treats as reward, just tons of affection. The one exception to this is when training, treats are used as an attention-getting training tool.

For specific SAR training exercises, we use cooked chicken chunks as a reward. As a side note, when in the field we frequently offer our Karelians water, about every 15-20 minutes, with electrolyte enhanced water (such as Smart water). Under very strenuous condition in the mountains at altitude, the water is enhanced with “Cytomax” proportioned for their weight relative to humans (be conservative). When working, they are rested at half hour intervals or more, depending on the terrain and level of difficulty.

Supplements

There are numerous supplements that both humans and pets can take alike. The only "supplements" that we are currently using are flax seed and Nordic fish oils.

Feeding

The food that a dog is given plays an important role in its muscle and bone development. When purchasing a puppy, it is important to find out from the previous owner what type of food the puppy was eating; any sudden changes in diet can cause digestive problems. If you wish to change its food to another well-balanced diet, do so gradually. Begin by mixing small portions of the new food with the one being replaced, until it is completely switched over. Remember to do this gradually, over a period of seven to ten days.

The amount of food, and number of time per day, that a dog eats changes as it matures. As a puppy, it should be fed small portions of puppy brand food frequently. While it is young, the puppy’s activity level is high, and you will want to be sure that it is eating enough to develop properly and steadily gain weight. Basically, a Karelian Bear Dog should be fed four times a day until it reaches three months of age. Between the ages of three to six months, give the puppy three meals a day, in portions being slightly larger than before. After six months, there should be two meals a day. At one year of age, there should be only one meal of adult brand food. You could also feed your dog some dry biscuits in the morning and evening if it is having only one meal per day. Remember to keep a bowl of fresh clean water near your dog’s food bowl at all times.

From the time our pups are eating solid food, we mix ground flax seeds into each meal. It provides both pups and adults with an additional source of healthy oils.

To develop good eating habits, allow your dog its own dining area. Feeding times should be at the same time, and in the same place, everyday. Your dog’s food and water should be served at room temperature, so that the food is neither too hot nor too cold. Snack foods such as cake, chocolate, and other junk foods are not for dogs and should never be given to them. Other unhealthy foods include spicy, fried, starchy, or fatty foods. Chicken, pork, and fish bones can also be very dangerous, since they can cause intestinal damage and tear the stomach lining.

There are many good commercial foods on the market that are nutritionally complete for your Karelian Bear Dog. Your dog should get the daily requirements of protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water from its diet to develop properly. You may need to make some dietary changes depending on your dog’s age, growth, and activity level; your veterinarian can assist you in making any adjustments. If your Karelian Bear Dog becomes pregnant or sick, the nutritional needs will change. Again, consult with your veterinarian for the proper diet and supplements.

There are a variety of feeding dishes to choose from hard plastic, stainless steel (preferable), and earthenware dishes, available in many shapes and sizes. Choose one that is large enough to hold each meal, but will not tip over or spill as your dog eats. It is very important to keep your dog’s feeding and watering dishes clean on a daily basis. Once the dog has finished it meal, throw away any uneaten food and clean the dishes. They should be washed using hot water and soap, and then rinsed and dried.

Puppy checkups

Your puppy should receive vaccinations at six, nine, and twelve weeks of age. They should generally be wormed twice, two weeks apart, at a time recommended by your veterinarian. Even though the puppies do not go outdoors themselves, their mother does, and the puppies can contract worms from the mother's milk.


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San Diego, California