Better Health for Your Dog in Five Steps

The lifespan of a dog can vary widely due to genetics, but also due to the care they receive throughout their lives. To follow are some simple steps you can take to help ensure your canine companion is with you as long as possible:

1. Maintain an appropriate weight by providing a high quality food of the appropriate amount in addition to adequate and appropriate exercise. Unfortunately, it seems that there is a serious pet obesity problem in America due to the same factors that contribute to human obesity – a high calorie intake, and too little exercise. Many pet parents equate food with love. In fact, most dogs would be as happy, if not more so, to spend quality time with their family participating in a fun activity such as a nice walk, hike, agility class, or game of fetch. Dogs suffering from obesity are more likely to suffer from osteoarthritis, cardiac disease, respiratory conditions, compromised immune function, dermatological problems, decreased tolerance to heat and exercise, and compromised immune function.

2. Provide appropriate physical activity after consulting with your veterinarian. This is for both your dog’s physical and mental health as it can provide an opportunity to reinforce manners training, socialization, and bonding. There is an almost endless list of exercise options, so you can vary your dog’s exercise routine and take advantage of the old saying that ‘variety is the spice of life.’ For example, help your dog earn an advanced degree, from a dog training school that is. Continuing education will not only help your dog maintain good manners, but will also help prevent or resolve behavior issues (such as destructive chewing, excessive barking, and separation issues), as well as further enhance the bond between you and your dog. So, consider obedience, tricks, agility, herding, or a Frisbee class, depending on your dog’s temperament and activity preferences.

3. Spay or neuter your dog to decrease, and in some cases, eliminate the potential for cancer of the ovaries, uterus or testicles, as well as hormone related diseases. In addition, spaying or neutering your dog may help to decrease marking and aggression issues.

4. Brush your dog’s teeth to help maintain healthy teeth and gums. Allowing tartar to build up may cause bacteria to grow, causing damage to teeth and gums, oral pain, bad breath and may even cause damage to the heart and kidneys.

5. Choose a competent, caring and compassionate veterinarian to provide annual wellness exams, aid in the case of emergency, and screenings for breed-related health issues such as hip dysplasia, von Willebrand’s disease (a blood clotting problem), and chronic ear infections.