Oakwood Flat Coated Retrievers


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Adult Flat Coats generally require 3-4 cups of good quality food a day. I find it best to split this into two meals-one in the morning and one in the evening. If your dog leads an active lifestyle, he may be better off with a food developed for high-activity dogs.

Do NOT let your dog get fat--if you cannot see his 'waist' nor feel ribs it is time to change to a lower-calorie food designed for weight loss--usually will have the word 'lite' in the name of the food. Also switch to some low-calorie treats such as baby carrots--or mix some green beans or pumpkin in his food while cutting back about by about 1/4 the amount of kibbles he has been getting. The beans or pumpkin will add fiber and bulk and make the dog feel fuller. Like overweight humans, overweight dogs are subject to more health problems.

Many people also like to feed a raw food diet. While I do not use it myself, there are many that swear by it. You can find more information about this diet at http://www.barfworld.com/ and http://www.willowglen.com/barf.htm

Puppies do well on a large-breed puppy food, and when a bit older (say-4-6 months) you can switch to a high quality adult food. I feed my pups 3 times a day, usually in the morning, in the late afternoon, then about 2-3 hours before bedtime. As the pup gets older, I decrease the bedtime meal gradually until he is getting 2 meals/day.

Another thing I do is rotate between 2-4 different types of good quality dog food. I figure this way, if something should be lacking in one brand, it will probably be in the other. By rotating different types of food, my dogs should not be lacking in any one or two things, nor be receiving too much of anything.

Also--you should follow your pup's breeder's specific instructions and recommendations on feeding your pup - the type of food your pup is used to ,the amount, and the time schedule your pup is on.

PLEASE do NOT let your pup get fat--a leaner pup is a healthier pup. Also, excess weight can add undue stress to growing joints and muscles and may lead to joint problems as an adult. For the same reason it is advised NOT to do strenuous activities with your pup, such as jumping, taking the pup on long jogs, excessive running, etc., until the pup's bones and joints are more developed-at about one year of age.

Here are some links that compare commercial dog foods:

And of course always keep available a fresh water supply for your dog

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Flat Coats should be kept in their natural coat-that is there should be no severe cutting of feathering, shaving the neck, or trimming of whiskers.

Flat Coated Retrievers should be brushed about once a week with a good bristle dog brush. This helps get out loose hairs and dirt. During shedding season (about two times a year) you may want to brush a bit more frequently to get out the shedding hair.

You may also want to check behind the ears for any matting-if the hair does mat, it may be easier to trim the matting out rather than combing it out.

I also use a thinning comb to thin and trim the feathering on my dog's ears. Do NOT go overboard with the trimming--you want to keep the ear hair longish--you just want to trim and neaten it up a bit.

As the dog matures and ages, the feathering on tail and legs tends to get longer. If it gets too too scraggly you may want to LIGHTLY trim to neaten things up.

If your dog is out in the field, he may get into some seeds and brambles. If you cannot comb them out, you can try putting some cooking oil on the area to loosen things up, if that is unsuccessful, you may have to cut the matting/tangle out.

Your dog's nails will also have to be trimmed and cut periodically. It is best to get your dog used to this as a pup as they notoriously do not like their nails cut. Some people will put some peanut butter on a wall or refrigerator to distract the dog while you trim the nails. Use a good-quality sharp nail trimmer and cut to just before the quick. It is hard to tell with black nails, but if you look closely to the underside of the nail, you can see where the quick begins.
Should you cut into the quick (it happens...) you can stop the bleeding with a product called Quick-stop, styptic powder, or you can use corn starch. If you do not feel comfortable cutting your dog's nails, you can have your vet or groomer do this.

Don't forget your dog's teeth! You can accustom the dog to having his teeth brushed--there are doggy toothbrushes and toothpaste on the market. There are also various chew toys and treats that help cut down on plaque buildup.
Your vet can also clean your dog's teeth periodically-although it does require anesthesia.

If you are showing your dog--there are a few other, subtle grooming techniques you can use. You may want to ask your breeder or someone who is showing their dogs as this is best to see first-hand, and a bit difficult to portray on a website!

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As a breed overall, the Flat Coated Retriever is a fairly healthy breed. The breeders screen their health stock for such things as hip dysplasia, patella luxation, retinal atrophy, and gonioscopy These problems are not *that* common in the breed, and by careful screening the breeders help keep them to a minimum. The registries for hip, elbow, patellas can be found on line through OFA at http://www.offa.org/. The registries for the eyes can be found at http://www.vet.purdue.edu/~yshen/cerf.html .

As with any living thing, there are other health issues that can appear unexpectedly. Breeding is not an exact science, and problems can pop up very unexpectedly. And not all health issues have a genetic basis-even health issues present at birth. Should your dog should develop any health issue please contact your breeder! S/he may have heard of others with the same or similar problem, and if nothing else, s/he would want to know about the health of her pups--no matter what age they are!

Cancer is the primary cause of death in this breed--and in many breeds. The FCRSA in conjunction with universities have on-going studies. For more info go here .http://www.vet.purdue.edu/~yshen/cerf.html

The Flat Coated Retriever Society of America also has a wonderful site devoted to the health of this breed-you may want to check it out for additional and more in-depth information at http://fcrsainc.org/health.html

As far as day-to-day maintenance, please be sure your dog is tested for heartworm and on a heartworm medication schedule recommended by your vet.

Follow your vet's recommendations for annual immunizations. Some areas of the country are more prone to certain diseases (such as Lyme) than others. Your vet would also know if there are particular disease outbreaks in your area for which your dog may need inoculated.

Enjoy your dog, but at the same time check for any changes in behavior, eating habits, routines. When you are petting or grooming your dog, check his ears and eyes for any redness, oozing or inflammation. If you feel any lumps, growths, or tender spots let your vet know. If your dog is limping for unknown causes please get this checked out too--it could be 'just' a strained muscle, but could also be something more serious from an infection, a torn ligament, or cancer.

Remember-YOU are your dog's first line of defense for good health. If YOU think there is any change or problem, the sooner you can get your dog to the vet for diagnosis the more effective any treatments will be!

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Flat Coats do best with moderate exercise and interactions with their people. I take mine for walks 2-3 times a day. We are very fortunate to have fenced acreage property on which to walk them and where our dogs can run freely. But they will do wonderfully with leash walks 2-3 times a day. Another method we use is to get a tennis racket and lob a tennis ball for ourFlat Coats. They love nothing better than to retrieve, and a tennis ball is a good size ball for them-not so small that they could inadvertently swallow one. Your dog can enjoy running and the chase, and retrieving the ball back to you. This is great if you do not have time for a walk, if you are unable to get out due to weather or other reasons, and will also let your dog get some aerobic exercise!

Swimming is also a favorite pastime for Flat Coats--if you can find a lake or pond that you can allow your dog! PLEASE be careful that this is a natural pond--that is one that ISN'T treated with various chemicals (either intentionally or through pollution). Throw a bumper or a floating toy for your dog to retrieve.

****IMPORTANT**** When exercising your dog in warm or hot weather PLEASE be extra careful not to let your dog get overheated! They may develope heat stroke-which can kill or cause permanent damage. Flat Coats will continue to run/play/retrieve even if too hot. When temperatures are high, please keep their exercise times short, and have them well-watered and in a cool, shady area.

REMEMBER!!!! If YOU do not provide an outlet for your dog's energies, they will be more likely to find their own-such as digging and other potentially destructive behaviors-- a well exercised Flat Coat is a happy Flat Coat-and one less likely to get into mischief!

You may also want to enroll you dog into an obedience or agility class -this is an active, intelligent breed and the mental challenges of obedience and other sports is very rewarding for dog AND owner!

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