Dogs are a responsibility. Like having a child, dogs require you to treat them with care every day of their life. No matter if you have just got a puppy, your dog is in its best years, or you own an oldie, taking care of its health is something you are obliged to do, and let’s not forget that it can lower the price you would have to pay for a vet.
We have prepared essential information about how to keep your dog healthy that can guide you during your dog’s entire life span. The eight important factors mentioned in our headline are the following:
- General healthcare and vet visits
- Dental care
- Things to do during summer
- Things to do during winter
- Exercise &
- First aid
Read through and learn everything you will ever need to keep your canine at best possible condition. It is, after all, your best friend.
The way you feed your dog is a decisive factor about its good or bad health. Great diet will keep your dog healthy, happy and good looking. Dry food is usually recommended by experts and there are many reasons supporting that claim. The well chosen kibble contains balanced ingredients and vitamins needed for your dog, it helps him keep his jaw clean and exercised and the stool is just the way it should be – firm and easy to pick up. If your dog prefers soft food, ideal thing to do is to mix it with kibble so we are all satisfied.
The two main things that determine what and how much to feed your dog, are its age and breed. Puppies require 3 meals a day, adult dogs need only 1-2 meals. You cannot feed your 4 month old puppy with the same food you’d give your 3 years old canine. The same thing applies for the breed; a puddle that spends most of its time indoor does not require the same amount and type of food like a golden retriever who runs around your house half a day.
Read the description before buying a pack. Its declaration should state if the food is for semi-active or highly active dogs. Furthermore, every kibble pack has a table written on it explaining the amount of food your dog should get according to its type and size.
Home prepared food is acceptable, but do not let your dog eat exactly the same food as you do. Chocolate is a big no, with an exclamation point next to it. It conations a deadly toxin that is collected in your dog’s body and becomes lethal when there’s enough of it. Also, avoid cooked and small bones, large bones are good for chewing, but smaller bones are potentially dangerous as they can be easily swallowed and cause a disaster in your dog’s gastrointestinal system.
In order to avoid the big no-nos when feeding your dog, we have a great article on the five common mistakes people make when it comes to dog nutrition.
Last, but definitely not least, your pet must always have fresh water available. There is no excuse for this, do not leave your dog thirsty, never.
General healthcare and vet visits
A thing to remember – do NOT wait until your dog gets sick. Control your canine’s condition on a regular basis to avoid consequences to its health and your wallet. Think about pet insurance and if you think you can afford it, get one that will cover most of your expected as well as unexpected expenses.
Visits to veterinarian should start once you get a puppy and become regular after that. Whether it is once in 6 month, a year, or some other period you choose, visit should not be skipped. The vet will do examinations of your dog’s physical condition (temperature, weight, and so on) and keep track of them, so if there are any indicators of an illness they can react on time to prevent any further consequences. Make a schedule of your dog’s annual vaccines, pests and parasite protection.
Not sure what your schedule should look like? Please read our article on the vaccination schedule for dogs to keep you on track.
Another thing to consider is signing in your dog as a blood donor. It is completely free, it provides a look into your dog’s blood welfare and your dog is a priority if he ever needs blood transaction. Also, don’t forget that you get to help save a life to some other dog.
The good thing here is that dogs have much less problems with their teeth when compared to humans. The bad thing is they don’t know to brush their teeth themselves. We have to take care of their teeth almost as much as we do for ours. The key to keeping your dog’s mouth clean and healthy is brushing its teeth on a regular basis.
We already mentioned dry food that is good its dental health, besides that, there are snacks that do something like brushing your dog’s teeth, and you should use them from time to time, but not as a replacement for doing it yourself. Chewing toys are also helpful and make your dog’s jaw and teeth stronger.
Going to the toy section of the pet store can be overwhelming, so skip the stress and take a look at our article on the best chew toys for puppies and dogs to help you with your search.
Dental hygiene is essential part of keeping your dog healthy, and should not be ignored. There are indicators that show something inside your dogs mouth is not quite right, pay attention to the following symptoms:
- Bad breath and drooling(more than usual)
- Inflamed gums
- Loose teeth
- Cysts under the dog’s tongue
Do not ignore any of these signs and get your pet to a vet. Better safe than sorry. So get a tootbrushing kit for your dog (do not use tooth paste for humans) and start rubbing those sharp fangs. It may seem difficult at start, but it will surely become a fun experience and a time to get closer with your dog. While you brush its teeth, always use gentle tone, pet your dog and talk something to encourage his good behavior.
You should also consider taking your dog to a veterinary dental specialist and do a so-called “COHAT” – comprehensive oral health assessment and treatment.
You can find many grooming services that will take care of your dog’s hair and nails. However, if you cannot afford it or you’d rather do it yourself, here is yet another bonding activity! Grooming your dog and keeping it clean is a significant factor for your dog’s healthcare.
First things first, learn about your dog’s hair. There is a difference in grooming a short haired boxer and a double coated Siberian husky. Once you’re clear with that, start preparing necessary equipment. You need a brush or a comb (for some dogs with thick and long hair you need special kind of a brush), a nail clipper, an ear cleaner, a dog shampoo, a towel and a hair dryer. Ready? Go!
Start with the coat and do a thorough brushing of its hair from neck to tail. This may take really long if you own a furry friend and you have to keep your dog calm and praise him for obeying your commands. After you’ve finished brushing your dog, use ear cleaner to take care of its ears. It is a sensitive area so be very careful and gentle.
If your dog requires eye care, that is the next thing to do. Once you’re done with that, get a nail clipper and trim your dog’s nails just as much as it’s needed. Dogs that are frequently outside, especially on concrete areas do not require nail trimming at all.
Now, that you’re done with the “dry” part of the grooming, prepare both your dog and yourself for getting wet, especially if your dog is not very used to it. Wet down your dog and put shampoo on it rubbing his entire body. Rinse him until there is no soap left and use a towel to dry him as much as possible. After that, use a hair dryer to dry out the hair, not the skin. Yay, you’re done! Praise your dog for being obedient and give him/her a snack.
Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts to remind you what to do during grooming:
- Praise your dog during the entire process. Some are terrified of water or hair dryers
- Give him a time-out. A short break between brushing and nail clipping is welcomed so let your dog run around or do his business
- Be careful not to trim its nails too much
- Do not get shampoo in its eyes, it can be very irritating.
- Do not use too hot or too cold water.
- Do not punish your dog if he does not sit still through the whole process.
If you’re still a bit confused about the whole grooming process, take a look at our more in-detailed article about how to groom a dog.
Things to do during summer
Summer is the best period to practice outdoors activities with your dog. Unfortunately, it is also a time where we must take precautions to protect our beloved puppy.
Let’s start with the heat. How comfortable are you when it’s extremely hot and you’re outside on the open without the access to fresh water? Well, it is even worse for your dog. They can get seriously harmed by a heat stroke if you don’t take precautions to prevent it. Your dog must always have access to a shaded place and fresh water. Schedule your day walks for mornings or evenings, both of you will enjoy it more.
Sunburns can happen to your dog too, especially if it is short haired, so make sure to cover its back, and tips of its ears and nose or apply waterproof sunscreen for pets. Not a slightly less dangerous threat during the summer is represented by parasites. It is their season and you have to provide your dog with pest protection. Summer is a great time to go out for a long walks in distant areas. Avoid getting your dog close to places where snakes may appear. Dogs are curious and snakes are dangerous, it is a dangerous combination.
Last but not least, your dog may be allergic to one of many allergens that are present from spring till fall. Consult your vet and ask about measure you could take to make it easy for your pet.
If you’d like to know how to handle a dog with allergies, please read our article on how to treat dog allergies efficiently and what some of the most common allergies in dogs are.
As a reminder, we’ve made a list of things you have to be careful about during the summer:
- Shaded place and fresh water must always be available
- Walk your dog during cooler parts of the day, if it is necessary to take him out around the noon, avoid hot surfaces like asphalt and concrete
- Never, under any conditions, leave your dog in a car
- Protect your dog from parasites
Things to do during winter
Unlike summer, winter is not so welcomed season for dogs and their owners. Unless your dog is Siberian husky or Alaskan malamute, winter will not be as fun as the summer. You need to know what to expect. If you keep your dog inside your house, only few things will change. Dogs are less active during winter so they require less food, don’t let them gain weight. If you’re taking them for a walk and it is freezing outside, prepare his paws and protect his body with a bit extra clothing, just a fur is not enough.
While some dogs enjoy the warmth of their owner’s home, others are condemned to face the cold winter. Help your dog through this period by providing him requirements. Keeping your body warm extracts more energy than usual so your canine will need some extra rations. Make sure to check his water bowl more often than usual, it doesn’t take a long time for water to freeze and become undrinkable, don’t let that happen.
Keeping your dog well fed and watered is essential, but not enough. I assume you are aware how chilling can a winter blizzard be, you have to provide your dog with a shelter. If you don’t have a dog house, which is highly recommended, try improvising anything to make a place where your dog can stay hidden of the wind, dry and a bit warmer. During a very long period of extremely low temperatures, let your dog inside from time to time, it will make a difference.
If you are a car owner, here’s a tip for you: Be careful with antifreeze. It is a poison that is lethal but has a sweet taste. Clear up after you’re done re-filling your car.
For more tips on keeping your pooch healthy and happy during the colder months, please read our article on cold weather care for your dog.
People often say that a tired dog is a happy dog. This is 100% true. Exercise has numerous positive sides for both you and your dog(s), unless you overdo it. As with everything else, you nee to know what is required and characteristic for your breed. Some dogs require long daily exercises, while some barely handle the regular walk.
To determine just how much exercise your dog can handle, take a look at our great article on helping your pooch flex his canine muscles.
Nonetheless, regular exercise will keep your dog in good health by preventing him to gain weight, allowing him to use his energy on a positive way and making it agile and limber. After all, it is a great chance to get some training for yourself too while playing and exercising your canine.
Be prepared. Knowing procedures in emergency situations will help you overcome panic and help your dog as much as possible. This is not a substitute for professional veterinary care, but means to make consequences less dangerous.
First thing you need are some medical supplies. Visit your local pet store or vet pharmacy and buy some general supplies that may come in handy.You can learn what you need to consider in our article on doggy first aid for pet owners. There’s a great list on what to include in your medical kit, as well as how to conduct emergency procedures.
Next thing to do is learning basic first aid procedures in various situations. Would you know what to do in case of an exposure to toxins, bleeding, fracture, seizure, heat shock, burns or choking? Being able to assist your dog in any of these cases may save your pet’s life. Consult your vet where can you get the best information about this topic.
To summarize, health care of your dog is not to be ignored. You are responsible to take care of it, notice any symptoms and react when needed. Healthy dog is not a burden but a loving friend that will be focused on impressing and adoring you. If you’re still deciding whether to get a dog or no, don’t get frightened by this.
Once you are fully aware of things needed to be done, it will become part of your daily routine. Most of these things can be executed through training and playing with your canine and it will be fun and interesting experience for you too. Owning a healthy dog leaves you only to enjoy huge number of benefits of being a dog owner.