Dogs brighten up our lives just by being their goofy, playful, tail-wagging selves. Taking good care of them is an act of love and also a way of ensuring they can be healthy for as long as possible. Health problems can reduce their quality of life, especially as your dog gets older. The good news is there’s so much you can do that will make a difference. Keeping your dog in tip-top shape is all about developing the right habits to meet their physical and mental needs. Follow these four tips to help your dog thrive for the long term.
1. Mental and Physical Exercise
Staying active is part of your dog’s very nature, regardless of the breed, and they have a strong desire to explore, play, and run around. Dogs need plenty of exercise, not only to maintain a healthy weight but to feel their overall best. Physical activity releases endorphins, boosts their immune health, and promotes a good sense of well-being. Much like with humans, there’s a significant mental component to dog health and exercise is also great for keeping their minds healthy. Brain enriching activities that keep boredom at bay will help your dog avoid anxiety, reduce negative attention-seeking behaviors, and overall be a happier pup. Interacting with stimulating toys, learning tricks, and exploring new places are all possibilities for keeping their minds challenged and engaged.
2. A Healthy, High-Quality Diet
Adequate nutrition is the cornerstone of keeping your dog healthy, and, unfortunately, many commercial dog foods are pretty deficient. Finding the right brand will require a little research or the input of your vet, but the rule of thumb is that dogs need a diet that is moist and predominantly meat-based. You can also boost their nutrition by supplementing their diet. SmartyPaws dog vitamins are treats made with ingredients that support hip and joint health. Another supplement is plain nonfat yogurt which can provide your pup with beneficial probiotics that improve their digestion. There are also many cooked veggies, like carrots or asparagus, that dogs enjoy and that have significant health benefits for them. Make sure they also have plenty of access to fresh water, especially if you feed them dry kibble. Your dog will thrive with regular meal times, instead of keeping food always available. Treats should be limited to no more than ten percent of their calories.
3. Sensible Preventive Measures
Keeping your dog in optimal health should include a variety of preventive measures that will maintain their ongoing good health and avoid serious problems later on. For example, it’s essential to protect your dog from fleas, ticks, and other parasites by given them preventative medication regularly. These pests do more than just cause dogs discomfort and can lead to severe complications like tapeworms and Lyme disease. The oral hygiene of dogs is also easily overlooked. Plaque can lead to periodontal disease, which is a very painful infection that also causes heart problems for dogs. Ideally, you should brush your dog’s teeth every single day, or at least several times a week. Follow up with a professional cleaning from the veterinarian once a year, and your beloved pup’s teeth will be in excellent shape.
4. Use Your Veterinarian as a Resource
The best form of preventive care is building a great relationship with your veterinarian and having their guidance with your dog’s health. Even if all your careful efforts to keep your dog healthy are paying off, and there are no issues, take them in for a wellness check-up once a year. In the case of older dogs, these visits should happen twice a year, again even if they seem perfectly healthy. Regular checkups allow your vet to spot potentially serious issues during the early stages when treatment is easier and more likely to succeed. Your vet should also be consulted if there are drastic changes in your dog’s behavior, including eating patterns, energy level, or stool appearance. As your dog gets older, your veterinarian will become your best asset in helping your best friend stay for as long as possible.