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A healthy dog is a happy dog, and any pet lover wants to make sure that their furry friend has the happiest life ever. If your dog is wagging her tail, then, of course, you’re going to be happy. And while there are some issues that sadly simply can’t be prevented, there are several things you should do to look after your dog’s health in order to ensure that they have a long and happy life.
Whether you’ve had a dog for a while and are wondering if there’s anything different you can do to make sure that they’re even happier or are in the process of getting your first dog and want to start off on the right foot, here are some key things your dog needs to be a happy and healthy dog.
Steps to a Happy, Healthy Dog
Keep Vaccinations Up to Date
Anybody who gets a puppy knows that they need to have their vaccinations between eight and twelve weeks old, to protect them against deadly diseases like hepatitis, canine parvovirus, and distemper. However, it’s not just puppies that need vaccines. Your dog should also get a yearly booster to make sure that their vaccinations and level of protection is up to date. You should keep records of vaccination dates, as these will be essential if you apply for a pet passport for your dog or need to let them stay in a boarding kennel.
Consider Neutering or Spaying
In order to reduce the number of unwanted puppies being born, the RSPCA advises all dog owners to neuter or spay their pets if they are not planning on breeding. Dogs can be neutered at around eight months of age and bitches can be spayed before their first season. Neutering and spaying can also have a positive impact on your dog’s behaviour, as they will no longer feel the urge to breed and this can ensure that they lead a more contented life.
Vary Your Daily Exercise
Regardless of the weather, all dogs need to get some exercise every day. Try to walk your dog before meals wherever possible and don’t forget to take poop bags with you to clean up after any accidents. If you can, vary your walks so that your dog doesn’t end up getting bored of the same routes; keeping them interested in exploring somewhere new will help them to stay active and keep them mentally stimulated too.
Find secure places in your area where you can let your dog off the lead to run and explore. Dog parks are a great option as they give your dog the chance to socialise and play with other dogs but be sure to always supervise.
Feed a Healthy Diet
There’s certainly no shortage of dog food options out there and with all the choice, making sure that you’re picking the right option for your dog can be confusing. Dogs need to be fed a well-balanced, nutritious diet and have access to fresh water at all times. The age, breed, and any health requirements of your dog will all be factors when it comes to what you feed them and how often. A raw diet is becoming a more popular option with many dog owners since it is rich in nutrients and unprocessed unlike kibble and canned dog food.
What is raw dog food? Simply put, it consists of what dogs ate before they were domesticated. Raw meat, bones, organ meats, and vegetables tend to make up the bulk of a raw food diet. And, feeding raw has never been easier thanks to brands like Bella and Duke, where you can purchase prepared nutritious meals in bulk and freeze them. As this article on Bella and Duke explains, with raw dog food, you can be sure that your dog is getting the most balanced diet for their needs with several options to choose from.
Some dog breeds will obviously need more extensive grooming than others, but all dogs should get used to being handled and groomed regularly from a young age. If you have a puppy, speak to a good dog groomer about getting a ‘puppy groom’; this is usually less about grooming and more about helping the pup get used to the environment and the equipment.
Not all grooming has to be done by a professional groomer, either – you can regularly comb and brush your dog’s fur to prevent matting and remove any dirt, while baths with a mild dog shampoo can help to get rid of any tougher dirt. Only bathe your dog occasionally, as doing so can strip the natural oils from their fur.
Look After Their Teeth
Just like humans, dogs also need to brush their teeth, and failing to do so can lead to tooth decay, bad breath and other issues. You can help to look after your dog’s teeth by providing them with specially designed chews that help to remove plaque build-up and freshen the breath.
It’s also a good idea to get your dog used to the habit of brushing their teeth at least twice a week, with a special dog toothbrush and tasty meaty toothpaste that they will love. It might take some time to get your dog used to have their teeth cleaned, so be patient and use plenty of positive reinforcement. Begin by gently massaging your dog’s lips using your finger, then move onto gently brushing up and down on their teeth and gums.
Apply Regular Flea Treatments
Neither you or your dog want fleas in your home. Any animal that has fur can get fleas, and your dog is no exception. Flea bites can seriously irritate a dog and even drive them to despair, causing bad allergic reactions and making them scratch and gnaw at their skin until it bleeds. And once they are on your dog, there is no stopping fleas from laying their eggs in your carpet, furniture, and bedding – and once they’ve hatched, the fleas will start biting you too leaving you with annoying, itchy spots.
Thankfully, you can prevent all of this from happening by applying regular flea treatment to your dog. This can be obtained from your vet usually around once every six weeks in the form of a spot-on treatment that you apply to your dog’s skin behind their head where they can’t lick it off. You can also use sprays and tablets to keep fleas away.
If you find any fleas on your dog, you should contact your vet immediately as they can give you medication for your dog to kill any fleas and flea eggs in their fur. Even if you haven’t found any fleas in your home, it’s worth getting a fogger to fumigate the rooms where fleas may have laid eggs.
Give Your Dog a Safe, Clean Bed
Your dog’s bed is where they go to rest and where they feel safe, so make sure that it is a cosy and comfortable space for them. Even if your dog adores rolling around in the mud and drives you to despair splashing in muddy puddles on walks, they should have a clean bed to relax in. Air their bedding outdoors every couple of days and vacuum their bed to get rid of stray hairs. Any blankets, towels, and removable bed covers should be washed weekly to keep it smelling fresh and avoid fleas.
Being responsible when it comes to your dog’s health is crucial for making sure that your loyal friend is happy.