Dogs, just like humans, have a variety of conditions that can affect their health. Unfortunately, dogs can have bone and joint problems, eye problems, nervous disorders, digestive, respiratory and cardiovascular disorders, as well as hereditary diseases and even cancers. As a dog owner, the health of your pet is always a concern. The good news is that by following a few simple steps, you can ensure that your dog will be healthy and any conditions that arise will be noted and treated as early as possible to obtain the best possible outcome.
The following list is a general outline of the suggestions that most vets recommend for ensuring your dog’s health. Remember that some breeds may have additional needs that are health-related, so be sure to research your breed and be aware of any conditions or dog health risks that may be prevalent within the breed.
All dogs need some level of exercise on a daily basis. Many of the small breeds will exercise indoors or will “self-exercise”, but other breeds simply do not. Owners need to realize that just turning the dog outside in the yard for a couple of hours a day may not be exercise either. Many dogs will simply find a shady spot to rest in until they’re allowed back in the house. Having a dog means that you’re willing to make a commitment to their daily exercise, whether that is going for a walk, jog, or just tossing the ball or Frisbee for 20 minutes. Watch your dog to be sure that they’re not over tired or injured during exercise, especially if there’s a lot of jumping or running involved. Encourage your dog to exercise even if they don’t seem to want to that day.
Feed only a good quality or premium dry kibble to your dog. Avoid the wet foods, as they are often not as nutritionally balanced as the kibble, plus they can cause both dental and digestive problems. If you are feeding wet food, consult with your vet and make sure that you are using the correct amount and type to balance the nutritional needs of your dog. Avoid feeding human food and too many treats. Human food or treats should be less than 5% of the daily food intake of your dog. Many vets and dog health experts recommend no human food and only select dog treats.
Some foods should be avoided completely. The following are harmful and possibly fatal to dogs:
· Sweets and sugars
· Raw pork
· Raw fish
· Any kind of poultry that is raw
· Any kind of raw or cooked poultry bones
· Onions and garlic (in large quantities)
Dogs should always have free access to clean water and should never be kenneled or kept in an area where there is no water.
Attention to Detail
By carefully observing your dog on a regular basis, you can note any signs of discomfort or anxiety quickly. Watch for changes in your dog’s behavior, including their energy level and food and water consumption. Often the first signs of many conditions are a change in eating patterns. Any odd behavior should be noted and carefully monitored. Behaviors such as seizures, excessive salivating, excessive or abnormal tearing of the eyes or discharges from any part of the body should be immediately checked by a vet.
Routine Vet Visits
Be sure to keep vaccinations and other dog health precautions up to date with routine visits to the vet. In some areas, heartworm and other conditions require constant monitoring and the vet can provide this service. Before breeding your dog, be sure to have her or him completely checked for any genetic conditions or predispositions such as hip dysplasia.
Love and Attention
Last, but certainly not least, your dog needs your family’s love and attention. Dogs thrive when they feel they are a loved and involved member of the family. Dog health is linked to love and attention, as loving owners are usually more aware of changes in the dog’s health and well being and get professional help sooner.
In all cases, it is vitally important to talk to your vet about any concerns that you may have with dog health and be sure to know any conditions that are specific to the breed of dog that you own.
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