You may think you have the dog parent routine down, but are you giving your pup the nose-to-tail care he needs? Read on for a roundup of everyday dog health tips.
Not sure how much food or how often to feed your dog? The age, breed and size of your pup matters when determining the amount and frequency of food he needs. Choose a food with a balance of nutrients, and measure it out according to the instructions on the side of the bag, or talk to your vet to get the best estimate for measuring his food. He would eat all day if it were up to him, so portion control is important! Some dogs may also need special nutrition to help manage certain health conditions. Check with your veterinarian and ask about your dog's specific needs. As tempting as it may be, don't give him table scraps or other people food, as it can add unnecessary weight and cause digestive issues. He may be looking at you with those big eyes, but really he is just interested in what you're eating because you're his pack leader.
Make sure your dog always has fresh, clean, cold water in his bowl. This will encourage your dog to drink the amount of water he needs. Dogs need about a half to one ounce of water per pound of body weight, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). For example, a fifty-pound dog should drink twenty-five to fifty ounces of water a day. The proportion should increase if your dog is still a puppy or if the weather is hot.
Dogs need to be active every single day. Make sure to keep your dog active each day. This could include going on a walk or run, playing fetch or simply playing tug-of-war or hide-and-seek in the home. Your dog might like a more specific activity depending on what breed he is. For example, many retrievers can spend hours paddling across a lake in pursuit of a tennis ball. Some dogs enjoy hiking or backpacking. You know his personality best, so find what he loves and try and make it part of his daily routine. Being active with your dog is good for his health and yours too.
Brushing your dog regularly will not only get rid of any unwanted hair that might get trapped on your clothes or furniture, but it can also be a good way to check the health of his skin and coat. You'll be able to more easily find any parasites that might be hiding away like ticks or fleas. It's also important to make sure your dog keeps up to date with his flea and tick medication to help prevent from getting bitten by these parasites. You'll also be able to better see any bare spots in his fur where he has been scratching — this is a good indicator that it is time to take him to the vet and get a check-up to rule out any conditions that might be affecting his skin or coat. Grooming can also help you discover any lumps or bumps that you want to get checked out by your veterinarian. Plus, a regular brush is a good way for you and your dog to bond; after all, who doesn't love a nice brush massage?
Don't forget your dog's toenails too. Make sure to keep them trimmed and clean to help prevent breaks and infections. If you're not comfortable trimming them at home, talk to your vet or groomer about them having professionally trimmed.
5. Oral Care
Many dog owners make the mistake of not caring for their dog's teeth until he gets older or a problem arises. However, starting good brushing habits while your dog is young helps him get used to dental care and prevents a variety of health problems. Check his gums and tongue for healthy color, and keep his teeth sparkling with brushing and dental chews or toys. You should also bring your dog to the vet for a professional dental cleaning every so often; follow your vet's recommendation for the frequency. There is also dog food specially formulated for your dog's oral health if you have concerns that he could benefit from some extra oral care.
6. Perfect Paws
Whether you are in an area that has hot pavement in the summer or ice and salt in the winter, always examine your dog's paws and keep them as clean as possible. You may want to get him a pair of booties or some musher's wax if he has problems with cracked, dry or irritated paw pads. If you notice your dog licking his feet a lot, be sure to clean them with a gentle pet-safe soap. If the licking continues, Wag! suggests having your vet check for microscopic skin mites or an object stuck between the
7. Vet Visits
Regular trips to the vet are a crucial part of overall doggy wellness. If you adopt a new puppy or older dog, you should take him to the vet within two weeks to check that he's up to date on vaccines, stocked up on flea and tick prevention measures, and there aren't any noticeable health conditions lurking. Your vet can also point out areas where your dog may need some extra care, such as cleaning his ears, helping him with anxiety, or even provide general training and obedience tips.
Keeping your dog can sometimes feel like a full-time job, but the benefits are definitely worth it. Plus, the more time you spend making sure he is healthy, the more time you get to spend bonding, and isn't that what being a dog parent is all about?
Chrissie Klinger is a pet parent that enjoys sharing her home with her furkids, two of her own children and her husband. Chrissie enjoys spending time with all her family members when she is not teaching, writing or blogging. She strives to write articles that help pet owners live a more active and meaningful life with their pets.