There’s a lot that goes into keeping a dog healthy. Daily walks, snuggles and nutritious food with regular baths are the basics, but there’s more involved than meets the eye.
The health of your dog depends on a variety of factors, so monitoring their eating habits, activity levels and weight are important ways to keep an eye out for changes that may indicate health issues.
Feeding your dog a balanced diet of high-quality commercial pet foods is essential for his or her health. This includes a balance of water, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins.
A diet rich in these nutrients helps your dog maintain and build muscle and nerve function, support his or her immune system, and promote good dental and oral hygiene.
However, your dog’s nutritional needs vary at different stages of life (puppy, adolescent, adult, pregnancy and senior). Your veterinarian is the best source of advice for determining the amount of food and frequency that is appropriate for your specific dog.
Exercise is important for your dog’s health. It tones muscles, helps the body’s metabolic system function properly, and engages your dog’s mind.
While the amount of exercise a dog needs will vary depending on his or her age, breed, weight and other factors, most dogs need to spend at least 30 minutes a day exercising.
Walking is a great way for both you and your dog to get some exercise, but other options include swimming, jogging, skating or cycling. It’s a good idea to check with your vet before trying any new activities.
Getting your dog groomed doesn’t just make them look and smell good, it can also improve their health. Regular brushing and bathing are important to maintaining the health of your pet’s skin, hair, nails, and ears.
Grooming removes dead hair, dirt, dander, and debris from their coat. It decreases the chances of mats forming and helps to keep your home clean.
While grooming can be expensive, it’s a necessary part of keeping your dog healthy and happy. Not only does it help your dog look and feel great, but it also gives you and your pet time to spend together and bond with each other.
Vaccines are health products that trigger protective immune responses in pets and prepare them to fight future infections from disease-causing agents.
They also lessen the severity of future diseases and some can prevent infection altogether.
Some of the most common dog vaccinations include distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus, and canine influenza.
Vaccines are given in a series of injections and are boostered every six months to one year. They are essential for a healthy pet and can save him or her from serious and costly medical treatment.
If you own a dog, it’s important to know that parasites can be very harmful. Not only can they make other medical conditions worse, but they also interfere with your dog’s natural ability to fight off infections.
Intestinal parasites are particularly dangerous. These can eat the lining of your pet’s digestive tract and lead to inflammation, weight loss, and bloating.
Internal parasites can be prevented with routine worming. Your veterinarian will test for them when your puppy is young, and then recommend worming for them several times as they grow up.
Heartworms are a year-round threat to your dog’s health and well-being. They are transmitted by mosquitoes and spread to dogs, cats and ferrets in areas populated by these insects.
When a mosquito bites an infected animal, it picks up an infective larvae, or microfilaria, and carries it to a new host. The infective larvae mature into adult heartworms in approximately six months.
The adult heartworms cause damage to the lungs and heart. This causes coughing and other symptoms such as trouble breathing, shortness of breath, and weight loss.
A healthy weight can make a huge difference in your dog’s quality of life. Not only does obesity have the potential to affect your pet’s energy levels and longevity, but it can also lead to an array of health problems, including joint disease, metabolic disorders, and chronic inflammation.
A good weight management plan begins with a visit to the vet, where they will perform a physical exam. They will listen to heart and breath sounds, assess limb movement, and take x-rays if they think your pet may be suffering from arthritis or other injuries.