We all want our dogs to be as happy and above all, healthy as possible, but at times, this is easier said than done. There are so many different areas of their health to focus on, and sometimes, it’s not always easy to know where to begin, especially we don’t exactly know what we’re looking for! Dogs are intelligent creatures and most of the time, they will let you know if there is something wrong, however, prevention is always better than treatment.
If we look after our furry companion’s health before any any issues arise, they will hopefully go on to live a longer and fitter life. We’ve put together 15 top tips on how to best care for your dog’s health to keep them at their best throughout their life.
Good Oral Hygiene
This is an area of our dog’s health we can often overlook. Just like our own, dog’s teeth and gums need to be cleaned and maintained in order to remain healthy and last them a lifetime. If they are not looked after, they could suffer with gum disease and tooth lose, making it difficult for them to eat solid foods.
Fortunately, there are many things we can do to make sure our pooch’s teeth are kept squeaky clean. The most obvious solution is to purchase a designated dog toothbrush with soft plastic bristles to regularly clean their teeth. Don’t be tempted to use your own toothpaste on your doggy as this will make them unwell, there are plenty of specially formulated ones just for dogs out there that are beef, bacon and many other meaty flavours that will make the whole experience more pleasant for them.
If you are finding brushing your dog’s teeth an uphill battle don’t panic, their teeth don’t need to descend into decay, there are other things that can be done. Dental chews are a great option for a fussy pooch, these uniquely designed toys and treats often have built in ridges that aid in the removal of plaque and tartar.
Maintain a Healthy Coat
A shiny, fluffy coat is one of the most distinctive parts of our fur babies, but what if your pet’s is looking a little lacklustre? There could be a number of reasons behind why a dog’s coat is dull and rough, and it usually starts from within. The first thing to look at is their diet. Are they eating a high quality dog food? Be sure to select food with all the essential minerals and nutrients necessary for a healthy coat, such as omega 3 fatty acids.
If the issue is not down to your dog’s diet, the problem might be as simple as keeping their fur brushed and clean. This is particularly important for dog breeds with long, thick coats, such as Pomeranians, Poodles or Spaniels. Do you research into the right kind of brush or comb to use for your dog’s fur and use it as often as necessary, this could be weekly or nightly. Be sure them regularly in a special dog shampoo and, depending on how much grooming they require, always take them for a professional cut and wash when they need it to keep that coat glowing.
Keep an Eye Out for Fleas
Have you noticed your furry pal is acting more agitated than usual, and is scratching more often? Perhaps they’re shedding an inordinate amount and even started to show bald patches. We hate to break it to you, but these are all signs of fleas. These pesky parasites make a home in your pet’s fur and suck their blood, which causes the terrible itching. They may be horrible, but luckily, they are relatively easy to get rid of, provided you catch them quickly. You can purchase a flea treatment over the counter a reputable pet shop, or from your local vet.
A Good Diet
Just like we humans, dogs need to maintain a healthy and balanced diet too. Only we’re not talking dairy and green vegetables on the food chart, well, not in the same way, anyway. Many dog owners love to spoil their pets and unfortunately, this often translates to sharing their food. Greedy pup will be used to snaffling a rasher of bacon or a biscuit or two from their owner’s plates and while it may seem harmless, it’s incredibly bad for their diet. Human food is not designed for doggy consumption and you should not allow your pooch to eat it. You aren’t being mean for denying him a piece of toast, in fact, you’re being the opposite. A few doggy treats now and then are okay, but too many will not do your pup any good. A gravy bone is the equivalent of a chocolate bar, so it’s problem not a good idea to stuff 10 down your dog’s throat a day. You will find the recommended amount for your dog’s size on the packet.
Take time to seek out a high quality dog food with the necessary nutrients and minerals that your dog will need in order to keep them healthy. Also consider your dog’s age, breed and size – there are formulations for every kind of pooch out there.
Its a common misconception that small dogs don’t need as much exercise as larger ones, in fact chihuahuas, the smallest dog breed of all, are very energetic little dogs and love to go on walks. Even senior dogs like to go on a leisurely stroll! Exercise is essential for dogs of all age and breed and even if you have a fast lifestyle, you need to put time aside to take you pooch out for a walk.
We all have busy lives, but it’s important to factor in time to take our dogs for walks and play with them. Not only does it give them the much need stimulation and exercise they need, it helps them bond with us.
If you notice your pet is carrying a bit of extra weight, you might not being giving your dog enough exercise. Step up your game and pick up some fun dog toy that the two of you can enjoy, such as a ball and scoop so you can play fetch – your dog will absolutely love this game and it will help to shift those excess pounds.
It’s important to make sure that our dogs are eating well, but it’s just as crucial to ensure they are drinking enough water. When your dog is activated into play mode, water might be in the last thing on their mind, so it’s vital that you make it available at all time, particularly when they are being active. Lack of hydration can cause a multitude of problems, including excessive panting, fainting and in extreme cases, brain damage and vision problems. To combat this, always be sure that your dog’s water bowl is topped up with fresh water, especially in the warmer summer months. When on walks, take a travel bottle out with you do you can give your pup a quick drink when they seem to be getting a bit warm.
One great why of keeping your dog healthy and ensuring they live a long and happy life is by providing them with both physical and mental stimulation. By playing with your dog, you will be keeping their body active, giving them exercise and keeping them entertained. In addition to this, playing with interesting and puzzling dog toys with your pooch will keep their mind stimulated, which is great for warding off dementia in later life. Not only will you be keeping their brain and body healthy, but taking time out to play with your doggy also will help to build and strengthen the bond between the two of you. Hey, there’s a reason they call them man’s best friend!
Keeping Your Dog’s Weight in Check
Dogs who are overweight are at risk of a myriad of health issues, including heart disease, joint problems and even cancer. Furthermore, pooches who are severely obese have significantly reduced lifespans and costs their owners tens, if not hundred of thousands of dollars a years vets bills a year, according to Dr Ward, founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. If your pup is carrying a few extra pounds, don’t worry, you can improve their health with a few simple lifestyle changes. As we mentioned, a high quality dog food crucial for a healthy pooch and is essential for weight management. Cheaper foods tend to contain fillers which consist of fat and other nasty things you do not want your dog eating. If weight is already a problem for your pooch, look into low fat options. There are plenty of tasty ones that your dog will love.
Exercise is also crucial for weight loss and preventing weight gain. If you are concerned, why not work with you vet to put together an exercise plan for your pet.
Regular Vet Visits
When you feel unwell, you make an appointment to see you doctor, right? Unfortunately, our dogs cant’ tell us when they don’t feel quite right, so we have to make the judgement call and we don’t always get it right, which can lead to disastrous consequences.
The best port of call is to make regular appointments to see your vet throughout the year, this is particularly important if your pet is a senior dog or prone to health issues. In these cases, it is better to be safe than sorry and be sure that any potential problems are picked up before they have chance to develop into anything serious.
Socialise Your Dog Properly
Bad behaviour with other doggies and animals is not only embarrassing and unpleasant, but it can cause harm to yours and other people’s pets. A scrap with another dog could result in serious injury and a traumatic experience could lead to other anxiety issues later in life. On the other hand, when dogs are socialised properly with other dogs, they can form great friendships. It’s best to start the socialising training from puppyhood if possible, as this is when their brains are most impressionable and malleable.
Spaying or neutering your dog is a smart choice for their health, behaviour and will help to control to issue of homeless animals. In the US alone, millions of healthy cats and dogs a year are euthanised because people do not neuter their pets and too many puppies and kittens are born to not enough homes.
In terms of improving your pets health, if your pooch is a male, neutering him will prevent testicular and reduce the risk of prostrate problems. He also will be far less likely to stray from home as he’ll be less focussed on looking for a mate. This means he’s less prone to get into fights with other animals or get hit by cars. In addition to this, he might be less likely to mount objects, people and other dogs. If your pooch is a female, she will benefit from a longer life, with a lower risk uterine infections and breast tumours, which, in 50 per cent of dogs, are malignant. The cost of getting you pup neutered or spayed in much less than what you’ll be splashing out to take care of a litter of puppies!
Take Note of Changes
You know your dog better than anyone, and should be aware of any changes in them, whether these be physical or behavioural. Any difference in your pooch, however insignificant it might seem, could signify a problem, so it’s important to investigate this as soon as possible. If you notice something physically different about them, perhaps a limps or the way they hold their tail, don’t take any chances. Book an appointment to see your vet.
Shifts in behaviour are a little harder to place., as there are so many factors that could be causing them. Has something happened in your life recently – a big move, a new pet? Try to pin point what could be causing any changes, and always give your pup special attention so they don’t feel isolated from you. As always, if you are in any doubt, visit your vet or speak to a dog trainer. You should be particular aware of any behavioural changes in senior dogs, as this could point to signs of dementia. If you suspect this could be the issue, consult your vet.
Train Your Dog
It may sound obvious, but good training is the basis for good health. Training your dog properly will give them set boundaries, keeping them safe in public and social situations, meaning they stay out of harm’s way. In addition to this, proper training on the leash means that your doggy won’t pull, so they are less likely to pull into the road or yank the lead from your hands.
Training at home is good for your pup’s health, too. As we’ve already tackled, too much food and nabbing people food is not good for your doggo, so training them to wait for their dinner is not only good behaviour, it will help keep them lean. Why not invest in a puzzle bowl, which will keep their brain stimulated but also force them to slow down their chomping?
Dog Proof Your Home and Garden
When you bring a new dog into your life, one of the first things you should consider is the safety of your home and your garden. Now of course, it may be safe enough for you and your family, but for a little furry companion or walks on all fours, it’s quite a different story. For example, did you know there are some plants that are poisonous to dogs, such as foxgloves, hydrangeas and ivy?
Make sure that your garden is fully secure, with a fence so that your pooch won’t be able to escape into your neighbour’s gardens – they won’t thank you for that! If you have a pond, be sure that it isn’t too deep and if your dog is small, never leave them in the garden unsupervised.
Make Time for Your Dog
The most valuable thing you can do for your dog’s health is make plenty of time for them. Dogs who left on their own too much can become incredibly lonely which can lead to destructive behaviour. The truth is, dog’s don’t just tolerate human companionship, they actively seek it out. It can be very damaging for a pup to be left all alone for long periods of time, but if you have to leave them during the day for work, make sure they have plenty of fun dog toys to play, and make lots of time for them when you get in.
Keeping our beloved dogs healthy is the best way to show how much we love and adore them. Following these fifteen simple steps will help keep you and your pup on the right track to better health. And always remember, if you have any concerns about your pet’s well-being, the best port of call is always your local vet. They will be able to suggest the best treatment, medicine and if necessary, procedure to make sure your pooch is feeling their best in no time.