- in Dog Health
Your dog is not just your best friend; it's a part of your family. It is heartbreaking when your pet becomes sick or meets an untimely end. Life expectancy of dogs depends on the breed, and although fate can sometimes be unkind, with good care, most dogs will reach their expected lifespan. Keeping your dog healthy is not difficult if you take care of the basic requirements.
Provide Clean Drinking Water
Clean and fill up the dog's water bowl at least twice a day. Water gets contaminated with saliva and food particles when dogs lap it up. Dirty containers and stagnant water are ideal conditions for microbes to multiply.
If the bowl is not cleaned or the water is not changed regularly, your dog can become sick. Drain the bowl, wash it well with soap and wipe it dry before refilling with clean drinking water.
Feed Your Dog Healthy Food
Like humans, dogs can become malnourished or obese if they eat the wrong type of foods. When you buy dog food, pay attention to the label. The main ingredient should be meat and vegetables; meat by-products and grains can come lower in the list.
Avoid dog foods that contain a lot of filler ingredients like meat by-products, corn or corn syrup. Avoid foods containing preservatives and additives like ethoxyquin, propylene glycol, BHA and BHT.
If your dog has obvious stomach problems like vomiting or diarrhea, or develops skin rashes, take it to the vet. It could be just food allergy or intolerance, but other problems can't be ruled out. The vet will diagnose the problem and give you the right solution.
Like humans, animals can also benefit from superfoods. Eggs, chicken, turkey, spinach, mackerel, goat or sheep yogurt, carrots, kale, broccoli, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, apple and sweet potato are good for your dog. Try to include some of these items in your dog's diet regularly.
Some human foods don't go well with dogs. Alcohol, macadamia nuts, chocolates, foods containing caffeine, grapes, raisins, leeks, fruit pips and seeds should never be given to dogs. Cooked bones are also on the banned list because they can easily splinter and cause injury to the gums or become a choking hazard if swallowed.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
Your dog will not be healthy and active if it is overweight or obese. Excess weight usually is a result of wrong choice of foods, overfeeding or inadequate exercise. Human foods, fatty foods and certain pet foods can easily make your dog obese.
Therefore, you must control the amount and type of foods that your dog eats, which is easy if you choose the right foods and adhere to a disciplined feeding pattern.
It's easy to tell if your dog is overweight. If you can't feel the ribs when you place your hands on the sides of the chest, the dog is possibly overweight. If your dog is overweight, take it to the vet to rule out any medical causes. Just cutting down on calorie-rich foods should help your dog shed weight.
However, if your dog must shed more than 10 percent of its weight, it's better to switch to foods that are specially designed for weight loss.
Give Your Dog Adequate Exercise
Your dog needs regular exercise to stay active and maintain the right weight. An hour's exercise is the minimum daily requirement for all dogs. Large dogs tend to be sedentary, especially when they are tied up or restricted to an indoor environment. They need considerable outdoor time to break the routine and get enough exercise.
A daily walk is a must, but that alone is not enough. Your pet needs some time to play and explore.
Taking your dog to a dog park is a good idea, especially if it is a small dog. It will be happy to run about and play fetch or frisbee. Time spent at the park also helps you bond with your pet and observe its behavior around strangers and other dogs, improves your pet's emotional health and reduces undesirable behavior like aggression and fearfulness.
Dental Health Is Important
Most people don't pay enough attention to their dog's teeth. Tooth decay is common in dogs, and it may lead to infections or serious heart or kidney complications. These problems can be avoided if you clean your dog's teeth and gums regularly.
Toothbrushes and toothpastes designed for dogs are available at pet shops. Don't use human toothpaste, as it can be harmful. Ideally, brushes should have heads on both ends, and bristles set at an angle to the handle make it easier to keep the gums clean.
Brush your dog's teeth twice a week to maintain oral hygiene. Initially, it can be difficult, but after the first few sessions, you can expect more cooperation from the dog. Regular brushing reduces bad breath and prevents plaque buildup and tooth decay. If your dog's teeth have too much plaque, a visit to the vet is recommended.
Like children, dogs need your care and attention. Neglect can make them depressed, sedentary, overweight and sick. Set aside time in your daily routine to take care of your pet. You will save on veterinary expenses and your dog will give you many years of joy and affection.
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