How to Keep Your Dog Healthy: Avoid 8 Common Mistakes
When it comes to your four-legged companion, you want him with you as long as possible — he's your best friend! If you're wondering how to keep your dog healthy, there's a lot you can do. It starts with avoiding some common mistakes pet parents make.
Follow these eight tips to avoid these mistakes so your furry friend can stay on track for a good and healthy life with you.
1. Read Food Labels
Paying attention to what's in your food is important for you, and it's just as important for your canine companion. Be judicious when choosing foods with artificial additives.
2. Watch How Much Kibble Your Pup Eats
Eating too much kibble can result in weight gain and may contribute to other health issues. Talk with your vet about the best type of kibble for your buddy, and how much he should eat daily based on his breed and size.
3. Raw Diets Aren't for Every Pup
A raw diet that includes a variety of meats, vegetables, and fruits can be a healthier option for some dogs. That doesn't mean a raw diet is suitable for all dogs. Bacterial infections such as salmonella and listeria can be found in raw meat, and immunocompromised dogs may not cope well with them. Before introducing your buddy to a raw diet, speak with a veterinary nutritionist certified by the American College of Veterinary Nutrition.
4. Be Cautious When Sharing Your Human Food
It's tempting to share your snack with your pup or to offer foods like apples and blueberries as a treat — especially when he's staring at you with those big eyes. Before sharing your food with your dog, read up on what he can eat without concern for his health. For example, even a few grapes can be deadly to your dog. Walnuts are a choking hazard and can cause an upset stomach; they can also lead to more serious illnesses if eaten frequently. The Humane Society of the United States offers a helpful list of foods that are poisonous to dogs. You can also talk with your vet about which human foods might be best for your pet's overall health, and which you should avoid.
5. Don't Skip Vet Appointments
Regular check-ups with the doctor are good for us, and they're good for your furry friend too. Ensuring your buddy visits the vet each year to stay up to date on vaccines and get a thorough examination is an important part of his wellness. Your vet can detect early warning signs of underlying health issues even if your pup appears healthy, so you can start treatment right away. As your dog ages, vet visits become even more important to help him stay happy and comfortable in his later years.
6. Watch for Overheating
Your four-legged buddy can't tell you when he's getting too hot, but you can learn to recognize the signs. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, hundreds of dogs die each year from overheating in cars. Never leave your dog in a car on a warm day — it can take just minutes for your best friend to overheat. Be careful with high-energy activities, too. Even though a 70-degree day may not seem too hot, he can overheat chasing a ball in your backyard or running around at the dog park.
Early signs of overheating include excessive panting and red gums. Take your pup to the vet if you notice these symptoms. Keep him cool in the summer by keeping him in the shade and placing water in easy-to-access places.
7. Avoid Using Toxic Chemicals in Your Yard
Some of the chemicals we use to make our lawns and gardens lush can be hazardous for our dogs. The ASPCA Poison Control Hotline advises pet owners to avoid chemicals like Disulfoton, a rose-protecting pesticide, because of its known toxicity for pets. Slug and snail baits, which can taste sweet to dogs, often contain metaldehyde, which can induce seizures or even cause death.
8. Don't Forget Exercise
All dogs need exercise, although how much depends on their age and breed. Puppies and high-energy breeds, like Belgian malinois and border collies, require a lot of exercise. Older dogs and low-energy breeds, like basset hounds and bulldogs, don't need as much. Whatever your pup's breed or age, it's important to keep him moving. Activities from hiking and swimming to walking and playing fetch are great ways to help your dog workout and to bond with him at the same time.
Knowing how to keep your dog healthy is an important part of your life together.
Your canine companion's health and yours will benefit when you understand what he needs, and what he should avoid, at any stage of his life.