10 Tips for a Healthier Dog
By Arlo the Hound with help from Honor Tarpenning
If I do say so myself, one of the only faults we dogs have is that we just don’t live long enough. The best way to make sure you can keep your furry, four-legged friend around for as long as possible is to keep him as healthy as you can for his entire life. Don’t start worrying about his health when he starts to show signs of advanced age, think about keeping your dog healthy now. These 10 simple steps can help.
1. Good Grooming
We all feel better when we’re well groomed.
Keeping your dog’s fur clipped can be a big relief in the summer heat, but remember that if you clip it too short your dog will more susceptible to sun burn.
If you have a long haired dog, make sure you brush him regularly to prevent mats, which are not only unsightly but uncomfortable and even painful for your dog.
Swimming, whether at the pool or the beach is great exercise for you and your dog. Just make sure you wash your dog after you take him swimming. Harsh chemicals at the pool and bacteria and pollutants at the beach can have negative effects on your dog’s coat and his overall health.
Long nails can break and cause severe pain. They are also uncomfortable to walk on. If your dog’s nails touch the floor when his paws are on the ground, they are too long.
2. Buy premium food
With dog food, you get what you pay for. Cheap dog food tends to be full of fillers and very little nutrients. If you feed your dog a premium food, his bowl movements will be more regular, he will be less hungry, he will retain more nutrients, maintain a healthier coat, and generally have more energy.
3. Fresh water.
You dog should have access to fresh water all the time. Wash your dog’s water bowl (and food bowl too) regularly and always keep it full. A good way to remember—whenever you get yourself a drink, add fresh water to your pooch’s bowl
4. Regular exercise
Just putting your dog out in the backyard isn’t enough. When I go out in the yard, I run out and do my business, then find a sunny patch to sprawl out in until my mom calls me inside. A lot of dogs need to be encouraged to exercise. Taking a walk twice a day is a great way to encourage good behavior and you and your dog both get great exercise. Another way to make sure your dog gets the exercise he needs is to let him play with friends’ dogs or take him to the dog park. Games of fetch or Frisbee are also fantastic for keeping your pooch in shape. You can also give your dog interactive toys to play with--they encourage him to be active mentally and physically.
5. Track weight
Keep track of your dog’s weight so you know when he is gaining or loosing. Drastic gain in either direction can be cause for concern. Knowing his usual weight and how much it has changed is important information when you take a sick pooch to the vet.
6. Frequent vet visits
Your dog should go to the vet at least annually. Letting your vet help you keep up with your dog’s health can sidestep many costly and dangerous health issues. As they say, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.
Dogs who do not have a strong leader are more anxious and stressed. Be your dog’s pack leader and establish this role with proper training. A good training program will keep your dog mentally stimulated and thus happier in general.
8. Healthy environment
Many people would be horrified to know the number of pollutants that float around in our homes on a day to day basis. Using air filters can help cut down on these pollutants. House plants also help scrub the air in your home so everybody can breathe easier. According to a NASA study, some of the plants that are especially helpful when it comes to cleaning your air are English ivy, peace lilies, bamboo, aloe, and spider plants. You can also reduce the pollutants in your home by avoiding smoking indoors and using natural, pet safe cleaning products.
Another way to keep your pet’s environment healthy is washing his bedding in hot water regularly. This helps avoid bugs and irritants like mold and bacteria.
Too many pet owners over-treat their pets with too many high-carb treats. Switch to smaller, meat-based treats and you’ll be doing your dog a huge favor. Just don’t forget that treats are part of your dog’s daily calorie intake just as much as food is, so if they’re getting all the calories they need from their food, high-calorie treats are overdoing it. Try healthy snacks like fruits and veggies to show your dog what a good pooch he is.
Dogs need attention and social interaction to be happy and mentally healthy. Spend time playing with your dog. Take him to the dog park. Invite friends over, especially friends with dogs. Work on your dog’s obedience and then take him to dog-friendly restaurants, parks, and events.
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