Are you preparing to bring a dog into your life? If you are, one of your biggest dog care considerations and responsibilities will undoubtedly be your new pet’s health. So what does optimum dog health entail? What can you do to ensure that your dog remains happy and healthy for as long as possible? How do you find the right vet for your dog? Hopefully this basic pet dog health care primer will get you started on the road to keeping your best friend by your side for years to come.
Your dog’s optimum health begins at home with quality food, plenty of exercise, and love. You need to tailor your dog’s diet to its specific needs. For instance, is your dog a puppy? Puppies have very specific nutritional needs to support them as they grow, so be sure that you’re feeding your puppy a dry puppy food formulated especially for a growing dog’s needs. On the other hand, if you have a dog over seven years old, you’ll want to consider a dry food geared specifically towards older dogs. Whatever your dog’s age, be sure you’re feeding a top-notch food offering primary ingredients such as lamb, rice, chicken, or beef rather than so-called “value” foods made with fillers such as corn, meat by-products, and ingredients with unrecognizable names.
Now that you’ve got your dog eating right, give him a chance to work up an appetite with daily exercise. A lot of people think that letting their dog out into the backyard to run around qualifies as exercise, and for some smaller dogs, that may be enough. For a more active, larger dog, however, daily walks, trips to the dog park, and hard play sessions may be a pet dog health care necessity. A lot of dogs thrive when they have a “job” to do be it herding sheep, running an agility course, or pulling a sled. Think creatively and explore different avenues to see what sort of activity your dog might enjoy. To double your fun and make friends, see if you can’t find a fellow dog owner or two to get involved right alongside you.
Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to pet dog care and health is operating under the impression that it’s okay to have an “outdoor dog.” Loneliness and exposure to the elements are both detriments to your dog’s mental and physical health, and keeping a dog outside is the fastest way to ensure that your dog is both of these things. Common arguments for the outdoor dog include “my dog is too big to live in the house” and “he’ll destroy the furniture.” The truth is, no dog is too large to live in the house, and most dogs would much rather lie quietly at your feet than wreak havoc on your possessions. Dogs are den animals by nature, and, in that same vein, are also pack animals. Your house is your dog’s den, and you are your dog’s pack leader. Therefore, when you sentence your dog to a lonely existence in the backyard, you’re essentially exiling your dog from its dent and its pack. That’s why so many backyard-dogs bark constantly, dig, or become aggressive, which in turn leads to being dumped at the animal shelter.
As your dog’s pack leader, you’re responsible for finding a veterinarian you can trust with your dog’s health needs. In the very least, your dog will need his yearly vaccinations and wellness check up. A complete set of vaccinations is particularly crucial for puppies who are extremely susceptible to deadly diseases such as parvovirus and distemper, but all dogs should receive their yearly vaccines. You’ll want to choose a vet who will treat your dog as his or her own pet and who will treat you with respect and compassion by thoroughly and patiently answering any pet dog health care questions you might have. The best way to find such a vet is to ask around for recommendations from other dog owners, reputable breeders, or your local animal shelter. Dogs are known for their unconditional, unending loyalty and love. While we may never be fully deserving of such devotion, a bowlful of good food, a home full of love and attention, and expert medical care goes a long way in saying “thank you” each and every day.