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Being a dog owner is never easy. That’s not to say that owning a dog isn’t a wonderful experience, it certainly is, but the actual logistics that go into caring for a canine companion on a regular basis can be a lot of work. There are obvious things like feeding your pet, making sure they get enough water, and grooming them on a regular basis. In addition to these, there are plenty of other long-term considerations.
Regular checkups, plenty of exercise, lots of one-on-one time, and many other things all factor into your dog’s long-term wellbeing. Let’s take a look at some of the most important health and wellness tips to both keep your canine in top-notch condition and prevent any nasty illnesses or injuries from unnecessarily cropping up down the road.
It’s been reported that as much as 40% of the dogs that visit veterinarians in the U.S. are overweight. In other words, dog owners are dragging their dogs right along with them down into that unhealthy, sedentary, over-eating lifestyle that so many Americans struggle with. While it’s a tragedy that people already choose to do this to themselves, it’s even worse that they allow it to happen to the animals in their care, too.
All of that to say, it’s critically important to the long-term health of your dog that you give them engaging, thoughtful exercise on a regular basis. We’re not just talking about letting Fido out into the fenced-in backyard to play with himself for a few hours. That doesn’t work well, anyway.
Instead, make sure to proactively give your pooch a chance to exercise for a solid half hour each day, minimum. You can:
- Take them for a walk.
- Take them for a jog.
- Play fetch.
- Run them up and down the stairs.
- Let them run laps through a safe area of the house where they won’t ding up the floors too badly.
- Make them hunt for their treats.
- Play tug of war.
However you do it, it’s important to make an effort to get your dog some exercise on a daily basis. Rain or shine, freezing cold or blistering hot, if you’re resourceful and creative, there’s always a way to help your dog stretch their legs. Not only will this have the obvious effect of keeping their body in physically good condition, but tiring them out will also help your canine companion sleep better each night, too.
Challenge Their Minds
Bored dogs are going to get themselves into trouble in no time. That’s why it’s important to look for ways to regularly stimulate your dog’s mind. For instance, try taking them on different walking or jogging routes from time to time, just to shake things up and get them to pay closer attention.
Once again, hiding their toys or treats can be a great way to get them to think, as well. Pasting the inside of a bone or toy with peanut butter is another excellent way to give them a challenge. In short, make sure that your dog is genuinely thinking on a regular basis.Don’t Be Afraid to Change Their Diet
It’s easy to feel guilted into giving your dog a handful of treats or an extra scoop of food regularly. After all, you’re their only source of nourishment, and you don’t want to starve them, right? But the rate of obesity in domestic canines has already been brought up once, and the truth is, you’re not doing your dog any favors by giving in to overfeeding them.
Talk to your vet about the right amount of food to give your dog on a daily basis. Also, look into the best ways you can feed them without breaking the bank. For instance, while you don’t need to grill Lassy a fine sirloin steak every night, it might make sense to spend a few more dollars on a dog food option that is grain-free and doesn’t have any artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. Angling towards a more natural diet can not only keep your dog healthy over the long term, but it can also help with short-term issues like hyperactivity.
In addition to talking to your vet, regularly check your dog’s shape. Ideally, you want them to have a slender, proportionate body shape with a tucked stomach and a small amount of body fat on the tail and ribs. If you find that your dog is overweight, consider adjusting their food. Don’t do it too dramatically, though. Decrease or increase the portion size slowly over time.
Also, keep in mind that doing things like decreasing their food a bit in the winter can be a good way to offset the natural drop in their activity and, by extension, the lower number of calories that they require. Just make sure you always do so thoughtfully and with an eye towards their figure as well as any instructions the vet has given you.
Keep Up on Their Dental Care
As many as four out of five dogs that visit the vet have an oral disease. Clearly, there’s a lack of attention being given to canine dental care, which can have significant consequences on their internal health over the long run. With that in mind, make sure to take the time to care for your dog’s dental hygiene. Purchase a toothbrush and tooth cleaning kit in order to clean their teeth, gums, and mouths on a regular basis. Also look for dental chew toys and treats.
Consider Getting Insurance
First of all, yes, pet insurance exists. In fact, in a certain sense, it’s a lot like human healthcare. If you have insurance, all you typically need to do is go to the vet, get your bill, and submit your claim. Of course, like normal insurance, pet insurance can also have a lot of nuances. For instance, often reimbursement isn’t 100%, but rather something between 70% and 90%. So make sure to thoroughly understand the policy before signing up.
While not technically a preventative measure, having pet insurance can give you the confidence to take your pooch to the vet regularly. It can also allow you to have any and every health-related procedure done as soon as necessary without having to worry about the financial repercussions.
The sad truth is, often veterinarian bills can be quite expensive. If your dog were to develop cataracts, for example, it could cost nearly $500 per visit to deal with them. The relief of knowing that you don’t have to worry about the costs associated with maintaining your pet’s health makes a big difference. It enables you to address concerns immediately and avoid holding off on check-ups, procedures, and operations that, when delayed, can complicate or even directly harm your dog’s health.
From exercising the body and mind to diet, dental care, and regular check-ups, there are plenty of simple yet effective ways to make sure your dog remains healthy for their entire lives. The important thing for most of these suggestions is that you, the dog’s owner, take the time to implement them into your daily, seasonal, and annual calendars in order to make sure that your pooch gets all of the preventative care and attention they require.