Caring At Different Life Stages
Most pet owners are not likely to take care of a young or new-born puppy as, by the time they obtain their Schnauzer puppies from the breeder, the puppies should have weaned. Responsible breeders should only sell puppies that are "old" enough to leave their mothers.
From puppyhood, to adolescence, to adulthood, and to elderly, dogs go through different life stages lke humans. The difference is, all these happen at a much faster rate in dogs, and they rely on us to help them through different stages.
As with any other dogs, Schnauzers have different needs in different life stages. Pet owners should be aware of such differences and adjust the household environment, their diets and healthcare provision insuch a way that these needs are met.
Housebreaking a Schnauzer Puppy
Daily Life with a Schnauzer
When Accidents Happen
Vaccinations and Parasite Control
Spaying or Neutering
Preparing an Ideal Home for Your Elderly Schnauzer
Approaching the End of Life
Housebreaking a Schnauzer Puppy
A Schnauzer puppy is very curious in nature and is eager to examine and sniff everything that is new to him. After he leaves the kennel where his mother and littermates are, he is normally confused or even terrified in an environment completely new to him. He may whine for his mother at night. It is crucial that you as his new family help your Schnauzer puppy started.
- Show your puppy where his food and water are placed. Select an area in the kitchen or utility room where it is convenient for you and safely accessible by your puppy. Make sure chemicals and cleaners are out of reach by him.
- Feed your puppy the same food he was having at the kennel at least for a week in order to avoid sudden changes in diet and the stress that comes with all the many changes. Later, if you wish to change the diet, do it gradually over a period of 10 to 14 days, starting with 80-90% original food and 10-20% new food until the entire diet is composed of the new food.
- Never leave your puppy home alone during the first few days after acquiring him, or he might develop a feeling of abandonment. If this happens, your puppy will probably take out his frustrations by whining or barking, and if this fails to bring your attention, he might begin chewing on things within his grasp. If the problem is not corrected, it is likely to develop into a long term behavioral problem.
- When your new Schnauzer puppy whines or barks at night, do not pick him up immediately. Instead, go to his basket or crate, pet the puppy as you speak in a soothing tone and calm him down until he seems comfortable enough to be left alone sleeping again.
- Give your puppy a name that is easy to say and probably with no more than two syllables. Each time you speak to your puppy, use his name in a normal tone of voice. Use your puppy's name before you give a command. Your Schnauzer puppy, being an intelligent breed, should quickly get used to his name.
- Avoid corporal punishment as it often makes your new puppy fearful of you and humans in general.
- If you live in a house, take your Schnauzer puppy outside to an area selected by you. If you live in an apartment, select a small room or an isolated area covered with clean newspaper. This will be the designated spot for your puppy to do his doggy business. As soon as your puppy finishes eating or awakens, take him to this area and wait until he urinates. Praise your Schnauzer pup each time he urinates at the designated spot. DO NOT punish him or rub his nose in his urine, if he does it elsewhere. Use a few words of disapproval, and place a few drops of his urine on a piece of cotton or bathroom tissue and deposit it onto the fresh newspaper where he is supposed to urinate. Before long, your Schnauzer puppy will register and gradually develop a habit of urinating at that particular spot.
- It is also possible to housebreak your Schnauzer puppy by confining him to his crate after meals. Dogs don't like to soil their dens. Line the crate with fresh newspaper and put in a soft towel. Replace the soiled newspaper immediately and change fresh towels whenever they get wet.
- Your Schnauzer puppy should normally be housebroken in about a week. There will be occasional lapses which are normal, but your Schnauzer's capacity to hold his urine and stools will increase as he matures.
Houebreaking is an early training process and the laying down of house rules. Without proper housebreaking, or when punishements are involved in housebreaking your Schnauzer puppy, it is likely that he will develop abandoned feelings which, at worst, turn into a long-term behavioral issue. Housebreaking is th best achieved with love, not fear! It is your golden moments of bonding and getting to know each other. A mild oral reprimand delivered in a firm voice in consistent attitude will work.
There are some basic routine you should be aware of to ensure your a healthy life of your Schnauzer:
Obtaining Body Temperature
Your Schnauzer's normal temperature ranges from 100.5oF to 102.5oF (38oC to 39.1oC). If you suspect that your Schnauzer is sick or in fever, obtain his body temperature using a rectal or digital thermometer. Remember to lubricate the tip of the thermometer with a dab of petroleum jelly. Support your dog's rear quarters with one hand beneath and between its hind legs to prevent him from sitting, and GENTLY insert the thermomenter at least 2 inches (5 cm) into the dog's rectum and leave it in place for 2 minutes before you read the temperature.
Grooming and Bathing
We have covered grooming and bathing in greater detail earlier. Generally, a young puppy should be bathed when he becomes soiled. But then, bathing too frequently is not suitable. You can bathe your puppy once a week or once every two weeks, and wipe his body with a warm, moist towel when he gets dirty. When you are bathing him, make sure the water is warm enough but not too hot. Dry your puppy, and avoid exposing his eyes to direct air stream from a hair dryer.
Lifting and Carrying Your Schnauzer
Be gentle when picking up your Schnauzer puppy, injured dogs or elderly Schnauzers. Avoid picking up suddenly or too rapidly. Some people pick up puppies by the scruff of their necks. We would not recommend this way regardless of your Schnauzer's age.
Depending on the breed and the size of your Schnauzer, an older dog is best picked up by placing one of your hands or arms in front of the forelimbs and the other behind the rear limbs, and lift straight up in one steady movement. Sometimes, holding the two front legs together between the thumb and middle fingers of one hand can help steady your Schnauzer's limbs and prevent the dog from struggling.
Regular Physical Examination
Any responsible pet owners should take their dogs to the veterinarian for physical examination at least annually. Your vet will evaluate the general health of your Schnauzer by checking his weight, blood count through the blood tests, assessing kidney function and urinary tract health by urine tests, performing chemistry screen to evaulate his organ function, mineral levels in blood and cell health, and of course, his oral hygiene and dental health.
You should not make any attempts to treat your Schnauzer's eyes other than the regular cleaning of mucus. You may use a cotton ball with distilled water to clean up any deposit of mucus on a daily basis. If your Schnauzer's eyes are affected by dust, you may flush the affected eyes with ophthalmic irrigation solution or sterile contact lens solution. Do not use tap water in this case. Eye inflammation should only be treated by a veterinarian or under the instruction of one. Read more in our Eye Irritation section.
Inspect your Schnauzer's teeth and gums at least weekly. Your vet will also evaluate the teeth during your Schnauzer's annual physical examination. Cracked or fractured teeth should be extracted, and professional teeth cleaning should also be performed periodically, the frequency of which will depend on the conditions of the teeth and the type of diet your Schnauzer is having. As mentioned, dogs undergoing a moist diet (either with homemade recipes or commercial canned food) may perhaps require more frequent professional cleaning. But bear in mind that these procedures on dogs are performed under general anesthesia. Therefore, regular toothbrushing is very important at least twice weekly and daily is preferred especially for dogs on homemade or canned diet. Read more in our Dental Problems section.
When Accidents Happen
How it works?
Schnauzers with injured back, should not be picked up unless absolutely necessary i.e. when you have to transport him to the vet. An injured dog should be muzzled before handling. Once he has been muzzled, examine his injuries and decide the best method of transport. Get a piece of plywood as a backboard, if not, get a sturdy blanket, lay flat on the ground, roll one side and place it as far under the side of your Miniature Schnauzer as possible. For Standard or Giant Schnauzers, it is best to have two people to turn the dog. Taking care to keep the head, neck, back and hips in a line, roll your Schnauzer over the blanket roll or plywood and onto the flat area. From this position, a person should get on either side of the dog and lift him long ways. This means you each will have a hand full of blanket near the head and the rump. Once you are able to get your Schnuazer up, place him on a flattened area of the car or trunk, make sure he doesn't rock too much in it, and transport him immediately.
If your Schnauzer is cut and is bleeding profusely, avoid touching the wounds directly. Instead, apply pressure to the wounded areas before lifting. Use anything handy but clean - towels, T-shirts, or even napkins to stop the blood.
Daily Life with a Schnauzer
Schnauzers are best known for their intelligence and friendliness. Miniature Schnauzers can get along with children and other pets pretty well. This makes them perfect pets especially those with young children or other pets. But that does not guarantee that they are fond of and friendly to anyone unselectively. Dogs are particularly sensitive to high pitched voices of small children. Therefore, if you have a Schnauzer and are expecting a baby, be sure to introduce your new born baby to your Schnauzer the moment you bring your baby home. Let your Schnauzer see and sniff the baby's scent and praise him for how well behaved he is. Your dog will register the baby as a new addition to the pack and bond with the baby.
Beware though not all Giant Schnauzers can get along with babies or young children. Giants have a stronger character than the Standard and Miniature Schnauzers and if not trained properly, they could overreact out of their instinct of protection. If you have an infant or a toddler, or planning to have a baby, may be you wish to put off your plan of adopting a Giant, or swtich to the Standard or Miniature Schnauzer instead.
The same goes to the addition of a new pet, be it a dog or a cat. My Miniature Schnauzer is particular friendly to other animals and he indeed made good friends with my sister's cat when he boarded with them temporarily. There is no guarantee that every pet ends up getting along with each other, but the initial introduction is an important step of the future relationship.
Vaccinations And Parasite Control
How it works?
A puppy's antibodies acquired from his mother's foremilk diminish gradually and by the eighth week of the puppy, he may have lost his resistance to common canine infectious diseases. Many of these deadly diseases could be prevented by vaccinations under a carefully designed vaccination schedule followed with periodic booster vaccinations. Consult your vet for a specific plan for your Schnauzer puppy.
A small number of dogs may show an adverse reaction to a vaccine, including fever, sluggishness, loss of appetite, facial swelling and/or hives, vomiting, diarrhea, pain, swelling, redness, scabbing or hair loss around the injection site, lameness, collapse, difficulty breathing, or seizures. If your Schnauzer shows one or more of these reactions to a vaccine, rush him to the vet immediately.
Common Canine Infectious Diseases
There are the so-called polyvalent vaccines available for the six most common diseases - canine distemper, adenovirus (infectious canine hepatitis), canine pavoviral gastroenteritis, parainfluenza and leptospirosis. So your Schnauzer will have to receive only one injection for the immunization of these six diseases. Some of these diseases result in high dealth rates. Therefore, it is vital that you check with the kennel from which you acquire your puppy and see if the puppy has already received his vaccines, and if so, which ones.
After the first injection of the polyvalent vaccines, your Schnauzer needs a booster vaccine annually. Talk to your vet about the vaccination protocol that is appropriate for your Schnauzer.
Rabies is another deadly disease for warm blooded animals, and the death rate is 100%. Dogs infected with rabies die within days but it can be effectively prevented by vaccines. Depending on the law of your state or country, your dog must receive rabies immunization at three to six months of age, and every two to three years thereafter.
The major gastrointestinal parasites of dogs are roundworms of several species, tapeworms, hookworms, whipworms and some protozoa such as amebas and flagellates. It is important that your puppy's stools are examined microscopically for the presence of various types of worms and their egss.
Heartworms do not infest the gastrointestinal tracts of dogs, but they are parasitic in the heart and blood vessels of the infected dogs. Mosquitoes are the media of this disease. The young worms (microfilaria) in the blood of an infected dog are ingested by a mosquito which then bites and injects those worms into another dog.
There are treatments available to get rid of adult heartworms in infected dogs, but toxic drugs have to be used which are risky to the health of the dogs either. Therefore, preventive medicines are more emphasized especially when they are easily administered and highly effective. There are different forms of preventives available by prescription - oral, topical liquid and injectable. Check out the FDA website which gives detailed information you need to know. Discuss with your vet on the most suitable heartworm preventive measure for your Schnauzer.
Note that if your Schnauzer is found to be infested already, preventives must not be used. Ask your vet if your Schnauzer should be on a heartworm preventive. A blood test will be needed to confirm this.
Fleas and Ticks
Fleas and ticks are both blood-sucking insects that can exist almost everywhere but are more often found in bushes, grass and sand. If you take your Schnauzer out without using preventives, you are subject him to be a victim of fleas and ticks. Once your pet is infested, the insects will be spread to home quickly.
There is a wide variety of effective commercial flea and tick repellents in the forms of sprays, powder, and topical liquid. Many of them are handily available from veterinarians, pet suppliers and online stores. Some of the all natural products are as effective as the chemical ones. Do your research or ask your vet for advice. Read more in our section on feas and ticks for more detail.
Garlic is a natural alternative of flea and tick preventive. A small quantity of fresh garlic can be added to you Schnauzer's daily diet. However, if your Schnauzer is suffering from anemia, garlic should be avoided all together. In any case, garlic should only be used in samll quantity. Read more in the Dietary Supplements section.
Spaying and Neutering
Spaying refers to the surgical removal of ovaries of animals; neutering literally means de-sexing but when it is used to described the surgical process carried out on dogs, it is more used to refer to the castration of the testicles of male dogs.
Unless you have compelling reasons to remain your Schnauzer fertile, it is strongly recommeded that you have your Schnazuer spayed or neutered. The greatest advantage to spay a female puppy is that the likelihood of developing malignant breast tumors will substantially decrease. Other diseases related to the reproductive system such as ovarian and uterine problems will be entirely eliminated and vaginal disorders minimized.
To the pet owners, the inconvenience that comes with a female dog in heat and the hygiene issues associated with this bi-annual cycle will also be eradicated. During estrus, or heat, your female Schnauzer may appear nervous, easily distracted and more alert than usual. She may also urinate more often than she normally does. You’ll most probably notice changes in her behavior due to hormonal changes, e.g. she may raise her hind quarters toward males as they approach, or move her tail to one side and tense her rear legs. Vaginal discharge is blood-tinged at first and the vulva is swollen. When she is receptive to males, vaginal discharge decreases in amount and is straw-colored. Spaying will simply avoid these behavioral problems and emotional instability of your female Schnauzer and the inconvenience to you.
Neutering a male Schnauzer also eliminates several male sex hormone related diseases such as testicular and scrotal tumors, perineal hernias and perianal gland tumors. The neutered male dogs tend to display less agrressiveness toward other dogs and is much less likely to engage in a dog fight.
It is best to have your female Schnauzer spayed before her first estrus or heat period (at about 7 months of age) and have your male Schnauzer neutered by the age of one. Talk to your vet about the most suitable timing for spaying or neutering your Schnauzer.
Preparing an Ideal Home for Your Elderly Schnauzer
Depending the performance level of your dog, a Miniature Schnazuer usually enters his middle age at the age of 9. As we know, dogs of bigger size tend to age faster than the smaller dogs, a Giant or Standard Schnauzer can approach middle age be as early as 7 or 8 years of age.
At this stage of life, your Schnauzer begins to exhibit gradual changes in his physical appearances, body functions, immunity and perhaps, temperament. He or she may become less and less active, sleep more, lose appetite, have difficulty getting up or moving around or deteriorating hearing and eye sight.
While your vet can tell you what part of your Schnauzer's body has gone wrong and provide the necessary treatments, as a loving and responsible pet owner, there are certain things we can and should do to help our aging pet adapt better to this confusing stage of his life:
- Gradually change the diet that is specially designed for senior dogs. Soften your Schnauzer's dry kibble with lukewarm water for ease of ingestion and digestion, or gradually adopt a homemade diet that meets with the specific dietary needs of your senior pet. Senior dogs should consume a highly digestable diet with lower fat content. Consult your vet for the specific needs of your senior dog.
- Your elderly Schnauzer may become unwilling to take long walks as he to. Do not force him to do so. Instead, let him decide the pace and if it is time to stop.
- In addition to the regular check-ups, you should also keep an eye on your senior Schnauzer's body weight, temperature, eyes, teeth, skin and coat, urine and stool conditions. Report on any significant changes to your vet on your Schnauzer's next physical examinations. In urgent cases, take your dog to the vet for immediate treatments. Undiagnosed issues can cause discomfort and rapid deterioration.
- Make sure you apply parasitic preventives to your senior Schnauzer who is now vulnearable to the life threatening diseases that may come with fleas, ticks and other worms.
- Keep your elderly Schnauzer well-groomed and avoid letting his nails grow long and put non-slip mats on stairs to prevent your dog from stumbling.
- If your senior Schnauzer is on a special or prescription diet, track your dog's wellness frequently.
- Pay attention to weather changes and see if your Schnauzer is warm enough.
- Get yourself familiarized with and prepared for the problems that may be associated with aging dogs.
- Your senior Schnauzer maybe confused about or even suffering from his body changes and this is the time when he needs you most. Talk more to your elderly pet in a soothing voice, and pat him frequently to let him know that he is loved.
Approaching the End of Life
When your Schnauzer's health is deteriorating and is approaching the end of life, you will wonder if he is in pain. It is very likely that he is suffering when he is whining or crying, panting excessively or gasping for breath, reluctant to move, he prefers to be alone, or has lost his appetite. Some other signs may be involved with certain kinds of disease. Talk to your vet for more advice, possible treatments or prescription of pain management medications.
In this stage of his life, you are most needed by your senior Schnauzer. Make him feel secure by surrounding him with his favorite things - a warm blanket or his favorite toys, and above all, your care.
Should I put my beloved dying pet to sleep? Or should I let him decide? These are the questions I asked myself a thousand times when my Miniature Schnauzer was in his end-stage cancer. It is not a matter any other persons could give you the answers. Your vet should be able to give you some advice that can help you decide, but it is still you who make the final judgement. I always thought I should let that happen naturally and had never imagined I would come down to considering such an option. But then, when I noticed how much my Schnauzer was suffering, I began to realize it was an utterlly selfish thought to keep him longer just because I couldn't admit the fact that he was very ill and dying. No decisions are easy, especially ones like this. "My Schnauzer is going downhill. Do I want to wait until he gets to the bottom?" This is the real question you should be asking.