Being a dog owner is beautiful and rewarding in itself, but it brings many responsibilities and decision making. Unlike in the past, when we knew so little about our furry friends, nowadays we have so many information and possibilities to keep them happy and healthy, as well as to expand their lifespan. However, knowing all the facts and possible health issues, keeping your dog in good shape seems to be a lot of effort these days. Starting from choosing an ideal lifestyle for your dog, to regular check-ups with the vet and vaccination, taking care of your pet requires continuous work and adopting a routine that will keep your dog in good health for many years to come. Here are some useful tips on how to improve and maintain your dog’s well-being.
Just like you, your dog needs healthy and balanced meals, rich in nutrients that will keep him strong and in good shape. The best way to do that is to get rid of kibble and to include more raw food. Health benefits of fresh and raw food are numerous, while kibble, regardless of how affordable it is, is equal to human junk food and may cause various health problems. Kibble contains high amounts of starch and carbohydrates. Although moderate intake of starch and carbs shouldn’t be a problem, quantities in kibble can be quite harmful, since it contains mycotoxins and antinutrients. In addition to that, keep in mind that dogs have no nutritional need for carbohydrates whatsoever, so feeding them food rich in carbs is not only pointless but extremely unhealthy since it can cause obesity, diabetes, and even cancer.
Do not over-vaccinate
Dogs need to be vaccinated, but only with core vaccines (distemper, adenovirus, parvovirus, canine rabies) that they get around the 16th week of age. Vaccines will protect your dog for the next 7 to 15 years, in other words, for the most of his life. Although vets can be quite insistent on annual vaccination, know that most of these vaccines will not protect your dog more, but may instead cause mild or severe reactions, as well as harm the overall health of your dog. If in doubt whether core vaccines still provide immunity, make sure that your dog is immune before he gets another shot. Ask for a blood test to measure the level of antibodies and then make a decision.
Take care of your dog’s teeth
Poor oral hygiene is a sure way to tooth decay and gum disease. Not only it can be painful, but it can lead to more severe health problem if the infection gets into the bloodstream from where it can affect heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, and bones. Inspect your dog’s teeth weekly and see if there is a bad smell since it is a sign of gum or teeth problems. Use canine toothpaste and brush dog’s teeth regularly. Also, make sure to feed him the right food.
Take care of their ears
Dogs are susceptible to ear infections, especially those with floppy ears like bassets or cocker spaniels, so make sure to clean their ears regularly. Since their ears trap a lot of dirt and bacteria, some of it can end up in the ear canal, causing infection or at least problems with hearing. It is most likely that your dog will shake his head and scratch until there is even greater harm to his ears. Before cleaning your dog’s ears, ask a vet to show you how to do it properly. Make sure not to insert anything into their ear canal.
Exercise your dog and control your dog’s weight
Dogs were not built for sitting in front of the TV, but for movement. Overeating and no physical activity will make anyone obese, including pets. Since their lifestyle is not a choice of their own, it is up to you to plan their meals and exercise. Spend more time outdoors and keep your dog active and playful. Know your dog and the main characteristics of his breed to know how much exercising your dog needs. If you notice that your dog gained some weight, include more raw food and reduce the amount of food gradually.
Keep your dog hydrated
Water is essential for all bodily functions, so make sure your dog always has plenty of fresh and clean water. Just like us, dogs can easily dehydrate, which can cause serious damage to vital organs. Depending on the exercise, food, and temperature, dogs will drink different amounts of water, but keep in mind that average daily intake of water should be an ounce per pound of body weight. Also, keep in mind that the type of water your dog drinks matters, so make sure to fill his automated water bowl with filtered water. No need for a bottle or distilled water as long as you have a good water filter.
Use natural dewormers
Worms are no fun as they always mean a visit to the vet. However, prescribed dewormers contain chemical ingredients that can be quite harmful, causing vomiting, depression, diarrhea, even death in some cases. To avoid these, turn to natural means to fight off worms and other parasites, starting with what grows in your area. For instance, chamomile, black walnut, and wormwood are great at preventing and getting rid of worms. Also, carrots, cucumber, fermented veggies, and pumpkin seeds are all effective in helping your dog’s digestive system fight worms.
Spay and neuter
Spaying a female dog prevents breast cancer and life-threatening uterus infection, pyometra. Neutering a male dog will prevent prostate health problems and testicular cancer. The best time to sterilize your pets is before they reach puberty. Not only it will reduce or eliminate risk from health problems, but it will prolong their life and prevent unwanted sexual behavior like messiness during the heat, humping, male aggression, etc.
Taking good care of your dog may seem overwhelming at times since it is not all fun and play. However, it is hardly possible that you’ll have a more sincere friend than you do now, right there in your home. These delicate beings can cause trouble and mess, but the love and happiness that they bring into our lives are priceless. And yes, last but not least, never forget to pet your dog because it will benefit you both.