Dogs are still America's most popular pet, and if you are lucky enough to share your life with one of these great creatures, you know that their love is limitless. But owning a dog brings certain responsibilities. It is up to you, the owner, to make sure that your dog is well taken care of, and that means paying attention to his health. As with humans, preventative measures can often eliminate costly trips to the veterinarian, and ensure your dog a long and happy life. Here are some tips to help keep your dog healthy.
- Keep your dog up to date on his shots. Start when he is a puppy and follow the veterinarian's recommended immunization schedule. You should also schedule routine physical examinations, and always bring the dog to the veterinarian at the first sign of any change in his health or behavior. Be sure that he is checked for heartworm and other internal parasites as well.
- Exercise your dog regularly. Staying active will keep you dog's weight down and contribute to his cardiovascular health. Exercise will also keep his joints lubricated, slowing down the onset of arthritis or other joint problems. Try to walk the dog every day and exercise him vigorously every other day. Take him swimming, or go to a doggy play park and let him romp with other dogs. This will not only keep him healthy but it will also help him become more social with other dogs.
- Never feed your dog table scraps or human food. Dogs have particularly sensitive digestive systems, and certain foods can aggravate them. Instead, feed him good quality dog food. Dry kibble type food is good for their teeth, and can be used exclusively or combined with canned food. Consult your veterinarian for recommendations on the best food for your dog.
- Protect your dog against fleas and ticks. These insects can spread disease, and infestation can cause infection and other skin disorders. Ask you veterinarian for the product that will work best for your dog and use it as prescribed. Dogs can suffer great irritation when bitten by fleas and ticks, and this may affect his temperament. Don't take any chances.
- Pay attention to your dog's dental health. A dog's teeth and gums are susceptible to disease. Learn how to brush your dog's teeth or take him to the veterinarian for regular dental care. There are also special dog treats that will clean his teeth naturally.
- Protect your dog against extreme weather conditions. Never leave your dog outside for long periods of time in either very cold or very hot weather. If your dog is prone to cold, he will benefit from a sweater or coat, and boots. In the summer, make sure he has adequate water and shade, and if he becomes overheated, cool him off with a lukewarm shower.
- Many dogs love riding in the car, but they are just as susceptible to injury as humans are. Keep the windows raised high enough so that the dog can't jump out of the window. You should also consider a dog seat belt to secure him in the event of a collision, and have him ride in the back seat to prevent him from being injured or even killed if an air bag deploys. And never leave a dog in the car unattended in warm weather. The car can quickly heat up and the dog can suffer serious dehydration or even death.
Loving your dog means keeping him safe and healthy. With a little preventative care, you can ensure your best friend a long, happy, and most importantly, healthy life.