Guest post courtesy of Jessica Sweet. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and do not necessarily represent the views of Val Heart & Heart Communications Enterprises Inc.
How to Keep Your Pup Happy and Healthy
Let’s be honest, dogs are the best. With those cute puppy eyes and adorable little paws, how could you not want one? In fact, scientific research has even shown that owning a dog, or frequent interaction with one, can actually reduce stress and help balance out emotions. So, really, why invest in a therapist when you could just hang out with a happy healthy dog?
But, while owning a dog can have amazing health benefits, it’s important to remember they will require a certain level of support and care. To fully reap the benefits of dog ownership, it’s important to keep your pup healthy and happy. As a first-time dog owner, this may seem like an overwhelming task, but our easy tips will have you mastering it in no time!
1. Do Your Research
Without education and research, it can be difficult to know what your dog might need. How do you know how much exercise they require if they can’t tell you directly?
Well, fortunately there’s an easy way to find out. Yep, you guessed it, the internet.
The best way to find out what your dog needs is to research the breed online and find out what the professionals suggest.
If your dog is a mixed breed and you are unsure of what exact breeds it is, we suggest using a dog DNA tester. These are easy to use and can be found on a variety of different sites.
Additionally, if you’re still finding it difficult to find the right information for your dog, you may want to contact your vet or location of purchase or adoption.
Doing your research is essential in keeping your dog happy and healthy as each breed often requires different levels of care. For example:
- Labrador Retriever: Requires at least one hour of exercise a day
- Border Collie: Requires one and a half hours of exercise a day
- Husky: Requires two hours of exercise a day
Doing your research before getting your dog can also aid with choosing a dog that suits your lifestyle.
2. Find the Perfect Food
It’s no surprise that one of the main contributors to dog illness is poor nutrition.
Feeding your dog with the wrong food can result in reduced quality fur, decreased energy and a variety of illnesses as well as increased vet bills and even dying before their time.
Additionally, feeding the right food and correct quantity can help maintain a healthy bodyweight which has been linked with a 20% longer life span.
It’s important to research and ask your vet what the best food plan might be for your dog, but remember that vet’s typically have had little training in nutrition so don’t let them be the final word on your dog’s food. Vets get approximately one hour of training in vet school, and the rest of their education comes from the big dog food companies whose primary purpose is to sell more dog food.
You don’t want to be feeding your dog 4 times a day with fish croquets if they actually only require one meal and are allergic to fish, for example.
For optimal dog health, we highly recommend choosing food made with high-quality animal protein, cooked veggies and organic grains.
Like humans, dogs need protein, carbohydrates and fibre to ensure a healthy gut.
However, dogs do not make amalyze, the enzyme needed to break down cellulose so if you feed them veggies or fruit they’ll need help assimilating it. Normally, in the wild a dog gets this from the prey animals they eat providing partially digested grains, veggies and fruits.
A great way to be sure they’re getting the right nutrients is to supplement their food with specific organic probiotics and enzymes for dogs.
Native Pet is an easy-to-use online store that offers organic, nutrient rich probiotics for all types of dogs.
Not only do they target different dog needs, but these organic probiotics for dogs also help promote good gut bacteria.
With a range of different sizes and prices, pre and probiotics come very highly recommended.
3. Keep Them Active
Keeping your dog active is essential to their wellbeing.
Going on long walks and getting outside is the ideal time for them to get mental stimulation, physical exercise, socialization, and opportunity for behavioral training – all of which are key for a happy and healthy dog.
If you don’t have a garden or yard, it may be a good idea to choose a dog that will need less time outside.
Additionally, you will want to set aside certain times of day to walk your dog.
While you may decide that you don’t want more than one dog, it’s still important for your dog to be socialized.
This is vital for moments when your dog might meet other dogs or people and will help ensure they don’t become overstimulated or rowdy.
Walking your dog will help with this process as your dog will have a chance to meet other pups and learn how to interact.
Making dog friends is also a great way for your dog to build confidence.
Depending on your dog’s breed, walking alone may not be enough for your dog.
Larger dogs may require more play time and stimulation.
If you are finding it hard to know what kind of activities you should be doing with your dog, you can always check out The Animal Foundation’s guide to your dog’s playtime and activities.
Some great playtime ideas include:
- Food dispensing puzzles
- Suspended balls
- Automatic ball launchers
4. Toy Safety
While there are many dog toys on the market, not all of them will be suitable for your dog.
The suitability of the toy will be dependent on the size and breed of your dog.
For example, some dogs should not be given harder toys as it could negatively affect their teeth or gums.
The best way to find out what toys are suitable for your dog is to check with a vet and do your research online as well as watch your dog closely to be sure it’s working for them.
Although you can reduce the risk of unsuitable toys, as there are no regulations on materials for dog toys, it can be difficult to know for sure the safety of a toy.
As a result, we advise supervising your dog when you provide them with a new toy.
It’s also important to alter or avoid objects that are not completely dog-proof.
This includes items which your dog may want to play with but are not specifically designed for dog use.
For example, you may want to remove any ribbons or small parts which could come off and be swallowed, and that includes ropes and rawhide chews.
5. Vaccines and the Vets
To ensure the safety of your dog and others around them, it’s important to ensure your dog is vaccinated properly but is not over vaccinated unnecessarily.
The best way to make sure they’re current and have the appropriate antibodies in their systems is to attend regular check-ups with the vets. Much like humans, dogs need their check-ups too!
This is essential in ensuring your dog is healthy and happy.
With many illnesses unrecognizable to the eye, going to the vet can help avoid missing any important health conditions.
This is especially important as your dog gets older, as many health conditions may occur during old age. These might include issues such as:
- High blood pressure
- Urinary tract issues
Speaking to a vet about your dog’s breed may also highlight medical conditions that they could be more prone to.
This way, the vet can look out for issues and reduce the likelihood of them occurring. For example, pugs are predisposed to having skin infections, seizures, blindness and difficulty walking.
While owning a dog can be beneficial to your own mental health and general wellbeing, it’s important to remember that they will also require a high level of care.
However, this can be easily achieved with the right commitment and a loving owner.
When caring for a dog, you should always look out for warning signs that could indicate health or happiness issues.
Although you might be doing everything right, there may be a bigger health problem that needs to be looked into.
But with these tips, a good vet, and lots of love, you should have many years of loving companionships with your happy healthy dog.
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