Your relationship with your dogs is one of the most rewarding a person can have. You love them, and they love you. We owe it to our best buddies to keep that relationship long and happy, which means keeping them in good shape and free from avoidable health conditions.
Sometimes this can be as simple as visiting the vet and watching your puppers' diets, but sometimes it takes a special effort to keep them healthy and strong. Dogs may sadly not live as long as humans, but there are things you can do to give your pooches the longest and happiest lives they can live.
Dinnertime is the best time at a doggo's house, and they have the body language to prove it. Take care to feed your pup the right kinds of food for their breed, and make sure there's enough to meet their calorie needs. Ask your vet what the right amount is for your dog's weight and activity level. Don't forget to "accidentally" drop a small chunk of carrot on the kitchen floor occasionally as a treat.
Dogs go into raptures when you feed them, and every dog loves treats, but don't overdo it. Obesity and poor health go together like puppies and cuddles, and your dog will probably eat every scrap you offer. This is especially common around the holidays when half the fun is slipping bits of turkey under the table for them. Treats are great, but use common sense and keep to a healthy food intake at most times.
Good oral health is often overlooked even by responsible owners. Dogs can get all the same dental problems people do, and the treatments are similar. If your pooch will put up with brushing, give it a try. If not, then you can try tooth-cleaning treats and see the vet for regular tartar removal. Watch for red gums, which are a sign of gingivitis, and don't ignore warning signs like chewing rocks and bricks.
Dogs evolved as long-distance pack hunters; in the wild, they can run for miles with their buddies. It's hard to do in a city, but never give up on getting out and having a run with your dog. Find a park where dogs can be off the leash, and then toss a ball or stick until they're ready to go home. This exercise is one of the most important parts of good dog health.
Dogs love to run, but make sure they don't overdo it. Running in the heat can quickly exhaust your pup, who can't sweat and has to stop to pant to cool down. Smaller dogs can't run quite like a shepherd or greyhound, and bigger canines have a lot of bulk they're hauling, which quickly wears them out. Exercising outdoors is great, but be aware of your buddy's condition and know when it's time to go home.
It's important to keep the home environment lively and mentally stimulating. Dogs can get bored without toys, playtime, and random things they can stick their snouts into. If possible, try to create a toy-heavy play space indoors and a visually (and smell!) complex play space in your yard. Having a place to go and sniff around, preferably with a few chew toys and a squeaky or two, helps keep your pal active and fit.
Dogs naturally form packs, and they get lonely pretty fast if they don't have a partner in crime. When you get your first dog, think about bringing two home together, ideally, a pair who already know each other from the pet store or shelter. Watch them to ensure they get along first, and then let them play together. Having a furry friend is good for you, and it's also good for your pooch.
Dietary supplements aren't just for humans. Dogs can get benefits from them too. While canines may not have the same nutrition needs as humans, puppies and old dogs eat a lot of the same things as people, including vitamins and supplements. Talk to your vet about what's good for your dog, and then look into canine-approved supplements such as fish oil, fiber, calcium, glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM.
It's a rare dog that enjoys trips to the vet, but this is one of the best things you can do to make sure your buddy lives a long, healthy life. Annual checkups, supplemented by visits whenever something seems off, are the most effective way to spot health problems early and take corrective measures in time to do some good. They may never like it, but your dog needs routine vet visits.
Dogs are social animals, like well-adjusted humans, who love being around us. Spending time with your pup, whether playing in the park or just lounging next to the fireplace, is one of the best things you can do to improve their quality of life. Most dogs have no upper limit to how much time they want to spend with you, so go ahead and give your pal all the belly rubs they want.
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