Ten Steps to a Healthier Dog

dogA dog really is man’s best friend; they are excellent companions for when you want to head out for a run, go on an adventure, sit in front of the TV, and talk to someone who won’t judge you. Descended from the now extinct European Wolf, the domestic dog is the most prevalent pet used for working and hunting. Because these furry companions have been with us for so many years, we really owe it to them to treat them right; their health is as important as ours.

Here’s how to keep a dog in good health, in 10 easy steps:

1. Nutrition:

     Don’t skimp out and buy cheap dog food because, over time, you will notice that your dog may become sluggish and their coat/fur will be lackluster. Look at the first 5 ingredients; are real meat and vegetables included in those 5? Corn, rice, barley, and soy are not sufficient enough sources of protein, so skip out on the bags that have those ingredients as the majority.

2. Know What’s in it:

     Did you know that pet food manufacturers are legally allowed to include animal by-products in their food? These by-products consist of bones, beaks, and intestines of diseased or euthanized animals. Americans waste millions of pounds of food a year by throwing out their leftovers. Instead, give the (healthy) food you eat to your pet!

3. Exercise:

     Keep your dog’s weight at a healthy level in order to prevent obesity- which is just as rampant an epidemic in pets as it is in humans. You also run the risk of shortening your dog’s lifespan if they are overweight. Be sure to ask your veterinarian how many times a week and for how long you should exercise your furry companion.

4. Hydrate:

     Give your dog plenty of fresh water. If you really want to get picky about it, replace old water left in the bowl from the day before with a fresh bowl of water every morning. Don’t assume that just because they aren’t pawing at the water bowl doesn’t mean they are thirsty.

5. Grooming:

     Brush your dog’s coat two to three times a week, depending on what type of hair/fur they have and how long it is. This promotes good circulation and the release of important oils from the skin that help keep the coat smooth and protect it from nature’s elements.

6. Clean their ears:

     Many people forget to check and clean their dog’s ears. If forgotten, their ears could get infected, and then you have to take a trip to the vet. Simply take a tissue and gently rub the inner ear of debris. There are also products that help wash out any buildup- just make sure they are alcohol free.

7. Cut their nails:

     Some dogs may not let you anywhere near their paws, let alone let their nails be cut. However, if your dog give you the a-ok to go ahead, be sure to cut their nails regularly in order to prevent them from scratching until they bleed. Remember to only cut the white part of the nail, as you would on your fingers.

8. Dental health:

     Keep an eye on your pup’s teeth and gums; the more you check, the easy it will be for you to notice something different. Giving your dog chews and bones to prevent tartar buildup and establish healthy gums is the easiest way to maintain their oral hygiene, but make sure you give them something digestible.

9. Vaccinate:

     Although the veterinarian bills can really start to add up sometimes, it is crucial for you to keep your dog up to date on their vaccinations (rabies, ticks, lime disease, etc.), because this could bring your health and safety into the picture if your dog is not properly protected.

10. Socialize:

     Just like humans need other human contact at some point or another, dogs also need to feel the love once in awhile. Either take your pooch to the dog park and let them run around with their own kind, or take them to a public space (if they are properly trained) such as an outdoor market and let passerby pet them.

Abiding by these ten simple steps will surely yield a happier pet, and a less worried pet owner. Treating our canine companions they way we would want to be treated is an important lesson to live by to ensure a long life for our dogs.

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