Keeping Your Dog Healthy

July 13, 2011

Those without dogs often jokingly equate dog owners’ concern for their pets to that of a new parent. “Well, of course,” any dog lover will tell you. The love can be overpowering, the worry and anxiety is every bit as real, as is the frustration that your little one can’t tell you when something’s wrong.

When it comes to keeping your dog healthy, the most important first step is the right attitude. A healthy pet requires more than a yearly visit to the vet for shots and a checkup. Heath, as with humans, depends on some basic building blocks.

Feed him well

Why bother feeding your dog high quality food? While dog nutrition is still a young science, a growing number of people believe good nutrition can lead to better health and a longer life for your dog. It’s more expensive but you don’t have to fill your dog’s bowl with as much of it because of its higher density. Here’s something else to think about: Cheap food produces more backyard waste thanks to all those fillers!

Exercise him daily

Even “couch potato” breeds require regular activity to stay fit, and a daily walk is a minimum requirement for any dog. Active breeds, such as Weimaraners, need multiple chances to exercise each day. Not giving your dog enough exercise almost guarantees a pet who’s destructive and unhappy.

Keep life interesting

Dogs need to be mentally challenged to feel life is good, just as people do. So toss him a ball or frisbee, teach him to new tricks and regularly run him through old ones, introduce him to other dogs and people, and take him to new places. If your dog is game, and you are too, you might want to try agility training.

A fit mind requires exercise, just like a fit body. Your dog will no doubt remind you of this the first time he shows up carrying his leash.

Practice health maintenance

Treat your dog as you would any other member of your family. Find a good vet and make sure he’s up to date on his shots. Give him monthly heartworm and fleamedications. Learn how to brush your dog’s teeth. Brush and bathe him often.

Prepare to spend $$

When you first stare into your new furry friend’s eyes, it’s hard to imagine anything but sunny romps through the park. So the reality of caring for a pet may come as a shock to many dog owners, and never more so than in the first year when costs can range from $800 to well into the thousands.

The expenses are one reason as many as half of all dogs adopted as puppies are surrendered in the first year of their life. So be sure to ask yourself before you get a dog whether you’re ready to spend what it takes.

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