Everyone who has ever had a dog in their life knows the bountiful benefits of sharing their home with a canine companion. Often drastically improving your own wellbeing, both mentally and physically, having a dog gets you exercising and gives you love and companionship through the years.
It’s not any easy task to care for a dog as they need equal amounts of love and attention, training, the right diet, health care, plenty of exercise and consideration to their individual needs. There is, of course, the temptation to treat such a doting companion, and while this is fine, you should be careful about how often treats find their way into your dog’s paws as they are reliant on you to take of their every need.
If you are looking to bring a dog into your life then it is vital to do your research on the specific needs of the breed but in the meantime we have summarised below some general points to consider in order to help your dog to live a healthier life.
Just like humans, dogs require vaccinations every now and then to protect them against common diseases. If you are unsure about what is needed and when, speak to your local veterinary clinic. Although some people believe that vaccinations are unnecessary, if you feel that you would be unable to forgive yourself if your furry friend died as the result of contracting one of these diseases, it should definitely be the step you take.
Of course, appointments at the vets do come at a cost and this applies to booked vaccinations and the unexpected visits, so be sure to factor in this cost before buying a pet. Consider taking out a pet insurance policy as your pet will get the best treatment but, depending on the nature of the visit, this can run in to the thousands, just make sure to read the small print to see what is included.
We all know that dogs need walking on a regular basis, but is that where their exercise should end? Absolutely not. Taking your dog into an open space (be sure to check the rules about dogs on leads) and playing fetch is a great activity for them and fun too. You could also consider cani-cross, combining your own fitness routine with your dog’s and if you work a lot then hiring a dog walker can be a great way to ensure you furry friend gets the appropriate amount of exercise they need.
It is vital that you take the age, size, health and breed of dog into account before undertaking something energetic like running though as their needs will differ. Generally, a decent amount of exercise will help your dog to stay fit and active, increasing its muscle mass and helping to maintain a healthy heart.
An overweight dog is an unhealthy one and ensuring that your furry friend has the best possible food is the first step to take. If you are going to dine on fine food then so should your dog, so ensure you feed it the finest natural dog food which is free from nasty additives and preservatives. As well as the top-quality food you provide your dog with on a regular basis, it is essential to remove all forms of temptation from your dog’s reach too. There are many foods which can be harmful, even fatal, to your dog, including alcohol, chocolate, coffee, fatty foods and salt, so knowing exactly what and how much food is going into your dog’s body is important.
Try to discourage begging by eating in a separate room to the dog – you may be unaware of a family member’s tendency to feed the dog under the table and it may be altogether too tempting for your dog to wait patiently for you to finish. Treats and biscuits might seem like the perfect way to reward your dog for good behaviour or simply because you love them, however they can add unnecessary weight gain so do this sparingly.
Bad breath in a dog is not a normal thing as a healthy set of gnashers should not be smelly, in fact, bad breath can be indicative of teeth or gum problems. Using a specific canine toothpaste, you should aim to brush your dog’s teeth at least once a week, preferably once a day with a special toothbrush. Weekly checks of your dog’s teeth and gums are also advised.
Your dog may find the teeth brushing a stressful activity so try to relax them first – some suggest giving them a little taste of the toothpaste to begin with, so they know what to expect. Being gentle and using circular, almost massage-like motions will also help. A build-up of plaque on your dog’s teeth can lead to infection, sometimes spreading through your dog’s organs, so don’t overlook this.
Heartworm is said to be almost impossible to treat effectively and can often result in death, so prevention is much better than the cure. There are several products readily available on the market where you give your dog one tablet a month to stop heartworm building up.
Deal with fleas
Fleas make most of us itch just thinking about them and they are just as uncomfortable for your dog, so be sure to be responsible and give your dog a monthly treatment. It is imperative to treat all of your pets for fleas even if they haven’t got any visible problems.