By now, most of us have made (and hopefully some of us have kept) some type of resolution and most commonly these resolutions include a health theme. What about our pets? It’s just as important to make sure we are enforcing top health habits for our dogs, as it is for us. Healthy dogs are happier, live longer, are more enjoyable to be around and even can be easier on our wallets! If we strive to keep our dogs healthy we are also likely enforcing our own healthy resolutions, so it’s a win/win for everyone!
Nutrition provides the energy, vitamins, and nutrients that are required for proper development and maintaining a healthy skin and coat. A healthy, balanced diet can also boost your dog’s immunity, helping to protect them from viruses and increase their ability to fight certain diseases. Of course, there is so much information regarding what we should and should not feed our dogs, it can be tricky to discern what is best. First, all family members should be aware of the most toxic foods to AVOID, to ensure your dog isn’t accidentally poisoned! This is especially important if you let your dog eat your leftovers or food that has fallen on the floor!
Every dog owner will choose the food they provide based on different factors such as whether they are willing and able to prepare the food themselves, how important using the most natural ingredients are, and the cost factor. By looking at the first five ingredients listed on the label, you will know the bulk of the product. You want to ensure meat (real meat, not by-products) and vegetables are within the first few ingredients. If you are interested in making your dog’s food (it’s easier than you think!), you may want to read our blog Top 4 Reasons to Try Making Your Own Dog Food and Treats.
Just like we listen to our own body when choosing the food we eat, we should be listening to our dog as well. If he doesn’t seem interested in the food or shows signs of discomfort, including diarrhea and vomiting, he may have a sensitivity to something and you may want to try a different food. A veterinarian is of course always a good resource to help you pick out the best food for your dog’s health!
Next, ensure your dog is eating the right amount of food. If you give your dog snacks or treats, make sure they don’t exceed 10 % of their daily food intake and only provide healthy and safe treats. Do you give your dog leftovers? Don’t forget to include this in the amount of daily food you allow! Regulating how much you feed your dog will help them maintain a healthy weight. Obesity in dogs can lead to digestive issues, osteoarthritis, cancer, and an increased possibility of complications during surgery. Also, obesity will make the dog more uncomfortable and less likely to be able to enjoy a fun, active life with you! That leads us to another point important for managing your dog’s weight….
Exercise is the second factor in keeping your dog at a healthy weight. It will also keep your dog’s muscles strong and keep internal body systems healthy and in optimal working condition!
Apart from the wonderful physical benefits of exercise, good activity levels will also influence good behavior and will help with training your dog from a young age. You know how parents are often at the park trying to wear their toddlers out with fresh air and activity? The same goes for dogs, tired dogs are good dogs! So, if your dog seems to have regressed and is turning to bad behaviors like chewing or acting up, they may not be getting enough exercise. These tantrums are likely because they are bored! If you don’t time to get your dog out for regular walks and socialization you can contact us to learn more about our dog walking and daycare services.
The great thing about exercising your dog is, it gets you out of the house too and it’s bonding time for that wonderful dog/owner relationship. It’s true that dog owners are more active than non-dog owners! Walking, running, hiking, and swimming are great activities for dogs, but also playing fetch and tug-of-war with your dog will be physically and mentally challenging for them.
Different breeds, ages and, environments will influence how much exercise your dogs need and what you do but don’t let this one go, it’s important for all aspects of having a dog!
Don’t forget all the benefits of regular grooming for your dog. This routine spa day keeps their fur coat shiny and beautiful, is essential for great circulation, and is a great way to detect early health complications. Check out our blog on the Benefits of Regular Grooming for more information. We have self-serve bathing stations at Pet City Canada, however, it is important to have your dog regularly groomed by a professional between washes. Groomers are trained to look for health concerns while they are pampering your pet.
Spaying or Neutering
Typically, people spay or neuter their dogs to prevent overpopulation of pets, especially considering the vast amounts of pets that need adoption or fostering. Having an unexpected litter of puppies who need training, as well as high medical bills is not healthy for anyone not prepared! However, spaying or neutering your dog also has major health benefits.
When males are neutered, their risk for testicular cancer is greatly reduced. In addition, once neutered males tend to want to stay close to home which keeps them safer because they are less likely to try and escape and get into traffic or other dangerous situations.
Spayed females, especially when spayed before their first heat, will reduce the chance of breast cancer and uterine infections. Breast cancer is very common and results in a high chance of fatality for female dogs, therefore you are putting their best interests in mind when spaying them early.
Routine Checkups and Dental Care
One of the best ways to keep your dog healthy is to ensure you have developed a strong relationship with your local Veterinarian. Taking your young pup to the Vet early on ensures your dog is up to date on his/her vaccinations against deadly diseases. In addition, early and regular check-ups get your dog comfortable with going to the “doctor”, so if they have to go in case of emergency or serious health condition, they will be calm and easier to treat.
Vets provide invaluable deworming treatment and monitoring and treatment for fleas. They will ensure you are aware if your dog is overweight and provide support to get them back on track. Most importantly, regular visits will let you know early on if a health concern comes up and with any complication, the earlier you know the more you can do! Going for regular checkups is proactive to ensure the best health possible for your dog.
Dental care for dogs is also important in keeping them healthy. Just like humans, having dental problems can be very problematic for dogs. Dental injury such as broken teeth or baby teeth that have not fallen out can lead to serious gum problems and additional plaque build up. In addition, gum inflammation is dangerous, as it can lead to the spread of bacteria into the bloodstream causing serious infections. While bones and antlers may help your dog keep their teeth fairly clean, regular brushing and routine examinations by the Veterinarian will only benefit their health!
Don’t forget, A Healthy Dog is a Happy Dog!