Dogs are a great source of social comfort among individuals. These pets provide unwavering loyalty and commitment and their love for their masters is simply unequaled. It is very rare to find a friend who has all of these qualities. That is why it is imperative on all dog-loving individuals to know how to reciprocate, maybe not in ways that dogs do, but in ways that any responsible human being does. As responsible dog owners, we must also look after their health. Here are 10 tips to care for your dog’s health and help ensure their general wellbeing.
1. Provide a Safe, Comfortable, and Nurturing Living Environment
Just as we humans need a home we can feel comfortable and safe living in, so do our pet dogs. While it is true that their cousins in the wild have can survive living in caves and other similar natural shelters, our domesticated furry friends have simply lost some of that capability. They need to be protected from extremes of weather. This is especially true for pooches that are either too young or too old to regulate their body temperatures efficiently. There are also certain breeds that are more prone to the development of certain conditions like obesity, hip dysplasia, and joint problems like arthritis. Whatever the case, caring for them essentially means providing them with a safe and comfortable living environment.
However, providing them a living environment does not only tend to their physical needs. We also need to provide them a nurturing environment. This includes communicating with them, giving them warmth, and providing them with simple dog treats and positive reinforcements that will strengthen our relationship with them.
2. Tend to their Nutritional Needs
All organisms require food in order to survive. Unfortunately, this is where some dog owners fail miserably because they truly don’t understand, or fail to recognize, the importance of adequate and appropriate dog nutrition. For these people, dog nutrition is anything that the master eats. If it’s safe for human consumption, it should be safe for dogs, too. Sadly, a lot of dogs actually suffer because of this misconception. They suffer from canine obesity and other metabolic problems form which other organ system health concerns can develop. While there is an ongoing debate as to which canine food is more appropriate – dry kibbles or canned dog food or homemade meals – the consensus is that dogs require a good balance of proteins, healthy fats, minimum carbohydrates, and plenty of water. These should be given in the right amounts and in their correct proportions, too. You simply cannot give your pet an all-protein diet because it also needs carbs for energy and fats for cellular integrity and brain development. Like humans, dogs require a well-balanced diet that is appropriate for their size, level of activity, age, and breed.
3. Don’t Forget the Importance of Hydration
Dogs cannot go up to a countertop and get a glass before heading to the ref for its bottle of water to drink. They are heavily dependent on us to provide them with water. And if humans are expected to drink at least 1.5 liters of water every day, dogs too will require the right amount of water for their daily needs. The point is, if we want our pets to remain healthy, not only are we supposed to feed them with the right amounts of high-quality food, we also need to provide them with fresh and clean drinking water. Avoid letting your pet’s water turn stale. As much as possible, we should change their water at least every 2 hours to keep it really fresh and free from microorganisms that may have already contaminated the standing water. If your dog doesn’t like to drink that much, then you can feed it moisture-rich, dog-appropriate foods.
4. Exercise and Play Time are a Must
They say that a dog that doesn’t play is a dumb dog. True enough, if you try to stay in bed all day, every day, for the entire year, you will not really feel good about yourself either. The same thing is true with dogs. If they are restricted to their cages or kennels with no chance of playing, running, jumping, hopping, and many other doggie activities, they are more likely to develop behavioral issues sooner or later. They don’t get to interact with other dogs as well as get to meet other people. So, when they do get the chance to be out, they are either very excited and uncontrollable or very agitated and aggressive. Either way, this is not what we want to see from our dogs. In addition to behavioral problems, a dog without play and exercise are more prone to the development of inactivity-related conditions like musculoskeletal deformities, diabetes, and obesity.
5. Always Take them to the Veterinarian for a Regular Check-up
We always have this tendency to forego seeing a doctor unless we’re really sick. That’s the same philosophy of some dog owners when it comes to veterinary visits. They don’t want to bring their dogs for a routine physical and laboratory examination. It should be understood that a veterinarian is the best authority when it comes to caring for your pet. He’ll give you an idea if your pet is growing and developing as expected. And if not, he’s also there ready with a plan.
6. Prevention is Always Better and More Cost-effective than Cure
Getting your pet vaccinated and protected against a variety of parasites is a hallmark of a responsible owner. Rather than waiting for a disease to strike your pet, you’re most likely to feel more secure if you know that they are adequately protected against heartworms, blood worms, ticks, fleas, and other parasitic, fungal, bacterial, and viral infections.
7. Consider Spaying or Neutering your Pet
If you’re not really intent on breeding your pets, you may want to have them neutered or spayed. Millions of pets actually end up in animal shelters all throughout the US every year. While many eventually get a second chance, a few unlucky ones have to be put down. But, there is actually a more important benefit of spaying or neutering your pet. Studies now show that spaying and neutering can help lower the risk of developing certain cancers. This is besides the well-established observation that spayed and neutered pets have fewer behavioral problems than those that have not undergone some form of reproductive control.
8. Take Care of their Teeth and Oral Health
Unless you can train your dog to brush and floss its teeth, you really have to provide them with excellent dental and oral care right from the beginning. The relationship between general health and oral health has been established to be causal. A condition in one can have an effect on the other, and vice versa. For example, gum diseases can introduce microorganisms into the bloodstream that eventually adhere to the valves of the heart, leading to heart valve problems. You don’t really need to be meticulous in their dental and oral care like brushing their teeth twice a day or even flossing their teeth once daily. It should be enough to give them appropriate toys and doggie treats that are designed specifically to improve canine dental health and prevent the development of periodontal or gum diseases. A trip to the veterinarian should also help provide you with the correct information on how to better care for your dog’s teeth.
9. Invest in Basic Dog Obedience Training
Many dog owners fail to recognize the importance of dog obedience training. For them, this is only for dogs that are being groomed for competitions. Unfortunately, while there is truth to this assumption, the real nature of canine obedience training is for you to give your pet a sense of purpose. This can greatly affect its temperament and, thus, its behavior. An obedient dog is such a joy to have as it is generally friendly to different types of people. More importantly, however, is that a well-trained pooch is one that is guaranteed to lead a safer and longer life. It knows when it is safe to cross a street or what objects need to be avoided. In some cases, trained canines can also help other people and this gives them meaning in their existence.
10. Don’t Overlook the Importance of Grooming and Nail Care
Long nails can be quite painful or uncomfortable to walk with. And if you have a senior pooch, its mobility may be severely hampered by the presence of unusually long nails. The same is true with long, unkempt hair or coat. Some breeds are more prone to the development of ice balls and mats that these can become sources of colonization by certain fungal species. Additionally, having mats prevents body heat from dissipating into the outside environment, making it unusually hot for your pet.
11. Prevent and Manage Flea and Tick Infestation
Fleas and ticks are two of the most stubborn parasitic vectors that make a lot of dogs and other pets sick. These ectoparasites bring with them a host of viruses and other microorganisms that can really test the immune system functioning of your pet. Fleas are known to cause plague brought about by Yersinia pestis. These also produce allergic dermatitis, anemia, and even tapeworm infection. As for ticks, these large flea-like organisms are known for causing Ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Sadly, both fleas and ticks are not only harmful to pets; these can wreak havoc in your health, too. It is thus, imperative to protect them against these parasites with appropriate anti-flea and anti-tick medications. However, this is only a partial solution to the perennial problem of flea and tick infestation. Prevention should always be added with effective environmental management to make sure these organisms don’t cause problems ever again. Check out this guide on the best flea treatment for dogs with help in preventing infestation.
12. Promote Optimum Mobility by Taking Care of their Joints
We all know that dogs love to play. They love to run and play catch with their masters. There is nothing more exciting and more fulfilling for a dog than to be able to move with the utmost freedom. That is why in instances when their mobility is hampered, dogs become depressed as if a part of their being has been taken away from them.
One of the most important aspects of caring for our best friend’s health is by making sure they are able to maintain optimum mobility. One way to do this is by making sure their joints are in their optimum range of motion. This is a lot easier said than accomplished, though, as certain breeds are more susceptible to the development of arthritis, hip dysplasia, and other joint deformities.
Giving them nutritional supplements that are specially formulated for optimum joint health can improve the range of motion of the joints and promote optimum mobility. To find out more about what brand to buy, this article on the best dog joint supplements is worth reading.
Looking after the health and wellness of our pets is not really that different from looking after our own welfare. After all, these wonderful creatures are our best friends. Give them a loving, nurturing, and safe home complete with nutritious food and water, plenty of exercise and play, and regular vet checkups. Grooming, dental care, preventative care, and obedience training should also form the foundation of your canine care.