Evidence shows that owning a dog can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as provide benefits to your physical health. All that, just from having a dog around! However, your mental and physical health benefits are enhanced by also keeping your dog in good shape. Here are some basic guidelines for keeping your dog healthy.
- Diet directly affects almost every aspect of your dog’s health. Make sure you’re feeding your dog high-quality food made by a reputable company, and that your dog’s specific nutritional needs are met. Not all dogs should be on the same diet so consult with a veterinarian to make sure you’ve got the right food for your dog.
- Don’t be fooled by product names, even from big brand dog food manufacturers. Terms like “beef dinner” or “beef entrée” might not mean what you think.
- Even the most low-maintenance breeds, as well as older dogs, still need a certain amount of regular exercise to stay healthy. A couple of daily walks, just to do some business, are probably not enough. Remember, a tired dog is a happy dog.
- When you get back from a walk or off-leash run, your dog should show you that the play time was enough exercise. Signals like immediately picking up a ball to play fetch when you get home, may indicate that there has not been enough exercise.
- Grooming isn’t just for show dogs. Every dog needs regular nail trimming and bathing. Long hair breeds will need more brushing than short hair breeds, but both will need it. Try to brush your long-haired dogs every other day to keep their coat lush and remove any debris. During tick season, use this time to check foot pads to make sure they’re not dry or cracked and to check for ticks.
- It’s a good idea to take your dog in to a groomer once in a while, even if you do at-home grooming!
- Clean your dog’s teeth as much as possible. Keeping your dog’s mouth clean isn’t just about bad breath – gum disease is linked to many other health problems.
- In addition to the necessary health benefits of regular grooming, grooming your dog is a good bonding and confidence building activity.
Dog-Proof Your Home
- Make sure your home is safe for your pet. Be aware of things that might get chewed on (like electrical cords or plastic bags), and make sure they can’t get into human food or garbage cans.
- Make sure your dog is properly contained, perhaps with a fence around your property.
Visits to the Vet
- While your dog may not be happy about it, an annual checkup at the veterinarian will go a long way to maintain your dog’s health. Some of what your vet will do is check for parasites, administer vaccinations, check your dog’s dental health, spot any issues in your dog’s coat and provide valuable insight into your dog’s health.
- Be sure to ask for recommendations specific to your dog’s health and ways to keep your dog in the best shape possible, happy and healthy for years to come.
Keep your dog hot – and cold.
- Depending on the breed, keep your dog warm in the cold season with a sweater or booties, especially if they have a short coat. In winter, snow can clump around paws which can cause problems and salt on sidewalks should be avoided. During the warmer months, walk your dog in the shade or on grass to keep them from burning their paws.
- Remember – NEVER, ever leave a dog in a hot car alone.