Are you preparing to bring a dog into your life? If you are, the health of your new pet will undoubtedly be one of your main dog care concerns and responsibilities. So what does optimal dog health involve? What can you do to keep your dog happy and healthy for as long as possible? How do you find the right veterinarian for your dog? Hopefully, this basic pet dog health care will help keep your best friend by your side for years to come.
Your dog’s optimal health begins at home with quality food, lots of exercise and love. You must adapt your dog’s diet to his specific needs. For example, is your dog a puppy? Puppies have very specific nutritional needs to support them as they grow, so make sure you feed your puppy dry puppy food specially formulated for the needs of a growing dog. On the other hand, if you have a dog over the age of seven, you may want to consider dry food specially designed for older dogs.
Regardless of your dog’s age, be sure to feed a premium food with primary ingredients such as lamb, rice, chicken or beef rather than so-called “valuable” foods prepared with fillers such as corn, meat byproducts, and ingredients with unrecognizable names.
Now that your dog is eating well, give him a chance to whet his appetite with daily exercise. Many people think that leaving their dog in the yard to move around is exercise, and for some small dogs, this may be enough. However, for a more active and larger dog, daily walks, trips to the dog park and hard play sessions may be a necessity for the health care of companion dogs.
Many dogs thrive when they have a “job” to do, whether it be looking after sheep, running an agility class or pulling a sled. Think creatively and explore different avenues to see what type of activity your dog might enjoy. To double your fun and make friends, see if you can’t find another dog owner or two to get involved with you.
Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to the care and health of companion dogs is to think that having an “outdoor dog” is okay. Loneliness and exposure to the elements are detrimental to your dog’s mental and physical health, and keeping a dog outside is the quickest way to make sure your dog is both. Common arguments for the outdoor dog include “my dog is too big to live in the house” and “he will destroy the furniture”.
The truth is that no dog is too big to live in the house, and most dogs far prefer to sit quietly at your feet rather than wreak havoc on your possessions. Dogs are den animals by nature, and, in the same vein, are also pack animals. Your home is your dog’s den and you are your dog’s pack leader. Therefore, when you condemn your dog to a lonely existence in the backyard, you are essentially exiling your dog from its hump and pack. This is why so many backyard dogs constantly bark, dig or become aggressive, which in turn leads to being thrown into the animal shelter.
As your dog’s pack leader, you are responsible for finding a veterinarian who you can trust for your dog’s health needs. At the very least, your dog will need his annual vaccinations and checkup. A full set of vaccinations is especially crucial for puppies that are extremely susceptible to life-threatening illnesses such as parvovirus and distemper, but all dogs should receive their annual vaccines. You will want to choose a veterinarian who will treat your dog like his own pet and who will treat you with respect and compassion by carefully and patiently answering any health questions you may have.
The best way to find such a veterinarian is to seek recommendations from other dog owners, reputable breeders, or your local animal shelter. Dogs are known for their unconditional and endless loyalty and love. Although we never deserve such devotion, a bowl of good food, a house full of love and care, and specialized medical care go a long way in saying “thank you” every day.