If there were a few things you could do right now to extend your dog’s life, wouldn’t you want to know what they are? Keep reading to find out the top 8 ways you can keep your dog happy and healthy!
1) Take Your Fur Baby to the Vet
- Start when your fur baby is a puppy. This will give you a baseline of your pooch’s health status. Knowing what is normal is key to recognizing anything that may change or become abnormal.
- Make sure that your vaccinations and/or titers are up-to-date. Depending on where you live, your fur baby could be exposed to various preventable diseases. Keep your fur kids protected and remember that Rabies vaccine is mandatory in all 50 states.
- If your fur baby is on heartworm prevention, make sure to keep on schedule. Heartworm is caused by the bite of an infected mosquito and it only takes one bite to transmit the disease. According to the American Heartworm Society, while the risk of infection varies from place to place, it is a threat to unprotected dogs in every state, even some parts of Alaska.
2) Healthy Diet
Just like you, your fur baby needs to eat a well-balanced diet. Do you know the old saying: “You are what you eat”? Well, it also applies to your fur baby. That’s why it’s super important to feed your pooch the highest quality food that you can afford.
Learn to read ingredient labels and spot red flag ingredients because not all dog foods are created equally.
If possible, switch from processed kibble to meals made with fresh meats and veggies. If you’re in the market for new dog food, I’ve been feeding The Farmer’s Dog (a fresh food subscription service that formulates meals with your dog in mind) for about a year now and my dogs are thriving on it. Basically, you fill out some information about your dog (age, weight, breed, lifestyle, etc.), and The Farmer’s Dog formulates how many calories he should eat each day. They cook the food fresh, it immediately gets packaged, labeled, and shipped over dry ice. You can find out more about it HERE!
Some benefits of good nutrition include:
- Promotes Overall Well-Being And Longevity
- Increases Immunity
- Decreases Risk Of Certain Cancers
- Promotes Heart Health
- Promotes Good Skeletal Health And Muscle Tone
- Aids In Healthy Digestion
- Promotes Healthy Skin And Coat
Just as with humans, exercise promotes mental and physical health for your pooch. Exercising your pet can be as simple as taking a daily walk or playing fetch in the yard. The activity doesn’t matter as long as your pooch is moving and using energy.
You will both reap the benefits of exercise, not to mention it’s a great bonding experience for you and your canine kid. FYI: Harsh weather is no excuse for not exercising. There are many inside activities and alternatives to keep you and fido fit when the elements keep you indoors.
Benefits of daily exercise include:
- Strengthens The Heart, Circulation, And Lungs
- Promotes Healthy Digestion
- Promotes Good Muscle Tone
- Relieves Boredom, Which Can Decrease Destructive Behavioral Issues Such As Chewing, Etc.
- Increases Your Pooches Happy Hormones
- Increases Self-Esteem
- Decreases Depression
- Decreases The Chances Of Obesity
- Aids Weight Loss
- Decreases The Chance Of Diabetes
- Decreases Risks Of Certain Cancers
- Promotes Healthy Bones
4) Maintain a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is essential to your pup’s healthy life and lifestyle. But get this: An estimated 52.7% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. Does your pooch fall into this category? To check, place your hands on your dog’s spine and run them over his back and ribs. It should be easy to feel the ribs and spine (although, it shouldn’t poke out either). If not, chances are your dog is overweight. Check out this chart from GuideDogs.org for a better visual:
As you read through the following list of potential problems for an overweight pooch, you will notice they are quite similar to the potential problems that an overweight human could face. They include:
- Heart Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Respiratory Disease
- Certain Cancers
- Heat Intolerance
- Reproductive Issues
- Decreased Energy
- Decreased Quality Of Life
- Decreased Lifespan
5) Dental Health
Dental hygiene is an extremely important part of your pooch’s overall health and should be a part of his/her daily routine. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), periodontal disease (AKA gum disease) is the most common dental condition in dogs and worsens with age.
The thing with periodontal disease is that it can lead to life-altering health issues such as pain, kidney disease, and heart disease to name a few. Bacteria from the diseased gums can enter the bloodstream and have devastating effects. The great news is – that it is totally preventable.
Have your pooch’s teeth checked at least once a year and get into the habit of daily brushing. Start slowly and before you know it you’ll both be comfortable with your new routine. Some symptoms of gum disease include:
- Bad Breath
- Red Gums
- Swollen Gums
- Bleeding Gums
- Mouth Sensitivity
- Excessive Chewing
- Loose Teeth
- Trouble Eating
- Pawing At Face/Mouth
If you think your little one has a dental issue, discuss it with your vet. As always, when in doubt – check it out!
If your dog learns nothing else, make sure your fur baby knows how to sit, stay, and come. If he ever gets off his leash and runs by or into the street, he must know how to respond to you when you call “come.” That command could possibly save his life.
Talk to your pooch. Communication will help you and your fur baby have a tighter connection and stronger bond. When your pooch understands what you expect from him, daily life runs smoother, which can ultimately increase his quality of living. Studies show the average dog can learn 165 words and dogs in the top 20 percent of dog intelligence can learn 250 words.
8) Show Him Some Love
This one may sound silly to some, but being happy and content can actually increase lifespan for both people and canines. It’s proven that having a pet can increase lifespan in humans by helping to lower blood pressure, decrease anxiety, and depression (just to name a few benefits). Show your pooch some love and give him the same benefits. A little snuggle and love can go a long way!