We all want healthy pets. But dogs are like humans — there’s a lot to them.
So where to start? Here are five tips that may help keep your dog on the path to wellness.
Good Food Is Key
Whether it’s for humans or our pets, good health often starts in the food dish. While our nutritional requirements may differ from those of our pets, the goal is to eat less processed, fresh, whole foods. Fortunately, these days there are lots of options out there in terms of quality dog food. From home-cooked, freeze-dried and raw to made fresh in a kitchen, the world has opened up when it comes to pet food. Just make sure to do your research and consult a veterinary nutritionist if you are ever unsure. When researching brands, ask companies about their manufacturing practices, quality control, ingredient sourcing and more pet-specific questions (especially if your pet has dietary limitations). Manufacturers should be open and more than willing to answer any questions.
According to VCA Animal Hospitals, 25-30 percent of dogs in North America are obese. That’s just one good reason why keeping dogs active is important. But there are many others. Keeping your dog active not only helps keep them fit and strong physically, but it helps them mentally. For dogs who suffer from anxiety or problem behaviors like inappropriate chewing, exercise and activity can serve as a healthier outlet to get out all that potentially destructive energy. Plus you can further tailor activities to your dog. If you have a working dog like a German shepherd, a sheep herding class or a scent workshop may make for a very happy dog.
Establish a Baseline
As much as we try, sometimes illness just happens. Because we never know if and when our pets may get sick, it’s a good idea to get some bloodwork and testing done when they are feeling well. This may help spot things that might be brewing as well as give us a baseline of comparison for when there is a problem. Because all dogs are individuals, their bloodwork and labs will differ a bit depending on their genetics, breed, gender, etc. So if we have a starting point, it might make it easier to diagnose what might be wrong if they are not feeling well.
Watch Out for Toxins
Healthy dogs are generally good at dealing with bacteria. It’s what allows them to lick all sorts of unsavory things — like dirty paws — without much going wrong. But there are still things in the environment and household items that can harm them, like the common sweetener xylitol and chocolate. There are other things too that we may think less about — such as pesticides sprayed on grass and even smoke-filled air from nearby fires. Keep an eye out for pollutants, toxins and chemicals while you’re on your walks or runs with your dog, inside your home and wherever else he goes. For dogs with allergies, it might even be a good idea to wipe off their paws when you come home from an adventure in order to help remove some of the allergens.
Spend Quality Time Together
Possibly one of the most important things you can do for your dog’s health and happiness is spend time with him. Most pet owners know firsthand how much their dogs want to be around them. Dogs are often happiest when they are lying near us or playing with us. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship because we benefit from being around them too. That time together can be spent doing something active like hiking or walking that can further help keep the family feeling well.