Every pet should be treated as part of the family, but if that pet happens to be an animal as endearing as a dog, it naturally becomes a family member, even before you realise what’s happening. Unfortunately, dogs do not live for very long and many breeds are vulnerable to multiple diseases and disorders, especially as they age. This vulnerability makes it all the more essential for dog owners to take the necessary protective measures before it’s too late. To help make each moment of your pet’s life with the family joyous and healthy, here are six tips to improve your dog’s wellbeing from day one.
MAKE THEM FEEL COMFORTABLE
Some of us believe that dogs prefer food above everything else, but it’s not entirely true. Even if there’s nothing physically wrong with the dog, it will often stop eating if it feels threatened or anxious, or even depressed. Therefore, it is essential for a dog to live in a home where it feels loved and wanted, instead of just being chained and fed. To help new dog owners avoid common mistakes and to help them take the necessary measures for ensuring their dog’s feeling of comfort and happiness, here are a few universal points to keep in mind.
- Do not chain your dog in the garden (or inside) for long periods of time
- Keep the pooch inside during the night, especially during extreme weather conditions
- Make sure that it is spending enough time with its human family
- Never hit your dog; it causes anxiety and makes them aggressive
TAKE THEM TO THE VET REGULARLY
Taking dogs to the vet isn’t just necessary for the dogs themselves, but an essential safety measure for their owners as well. There are parasites such as the tape worm, which can infect human beings if they are not dewormed by a professional veterinarian on a regular basis. The following few pointers should help you understand how to handle the vet trips.
- Trips to the vet, alongside the necessary vaccinations and immunisations are not optional
- Unlike human beings, we cannot wait for the dog to get sick before taking it to the vet
- Only consult veterinarians who are reputed and certified
GET PET INSURANCE
Speaking of vets, doggy care can get quite expensive, especially as they age, and that’s precisely why insurance for dogs is not a luxury, but a necessity for anyone who loves their pet. You can get the pet insurance from a number of providers including everypaw.com who have a number of pet-centric plans. Everypaw offer lifetime coverage and maximum benefit cover, they also have a very useful feature called Petcall Live Chat that lets pet owners chat directly with experienced pet care nurses for medical advice. Veterinary care is more expensive than most us think, which can leave you and your pet helpless during emergencies if you don’t have pet insurance, so make sure you have an appropriate policy started as soon as possible.
While food might not be the only determinant of canine happiness, nobody can deny that food is certainly one of the most important factors towards ensuring it. Now, understanding the fact that a dog’s nutritional needs are different than that of humans is important because a lot of owners make the mistake of thinking that it’s okay to feed human food to dogs. This is a mistake which can even be lethal if it involves foods that are toxic to dogs, such as chocolate, coffee or avocado. Even if it doesn’t poison your dog right away, it is possible for cooked and processed human food to cause a number of health complications such as obesity, poor bone density and malnutrition.
Aside from all that, there’s also the question of selecting your dog’s meals according to the breed, which can differ quite a bit in size, and content. Only a licensed vet would be able to guide you in making sure that all the nutritional needs of the dog is well taken care of, but the following tips should be able to give you a nudge in the right direction.
- Always read the ingredients list on your dogfood’s packaging and verify it with your vet.
- If you give them meat, don’t cook it.
- Rinsing and scrubbing in a mix of apple cider vinegar and water should free your dog’s raw fruits and vegetables from pesticides.
- Try to buy gluten free dogfood and generally avoid gluten in all meals; they might not be digested and could harm the liver and the kidneys.
- Overfeeding will lead to obesity in dogs, which can absolutely devastate a dog’s health, a lot more than it does in humans.
- Your dog’s diet will need to be changed as it grows from a puppy to an adult dog. Changes will also be necessary as your pooch begins to age.
- Waterborne bacteria can make a dog very sick, so change the water at least 2 – 3 times every day and always make sure that there’s plenty of water available for the dog, throughout the house and/or property.
It doesn’t matter what breed we are talking about, but unless your dog has a special medical condition that is keeping it from playing, running and exercising, lack of physical activity will tax a dog physically and mentally. Dogs tend to have a lot of nervous energy, and unless they’re able to spend some of that excess energy through regular exercise, it can have a number of adverse effects on them, including but not limited to nervousness, destructive behaviour, depression, aggression, bone health issues, obesity, etc. However, how much exercise is required for your dog will vary greatly, depending on the breed and age of the dog in question. For example, shepherds, retrievers and terriers in general require a lot of running and playing outside to stay healthy and fit, while a shih tzu or a bull mastiff can stay healthy with just regular walks and a few minutes of playtime every day. In fact, over exercising a species like the English bulldog or the bull mastiff can even overheat them to the point of fatality, especially when the dog is old, or if the weather is particularly hot.
SPAYING & NEUTERING
It isn’t a nice thought to have to get your beloved pet’s reproductive parts removed surgically, but it can have a number of positive behavioural effects on your dog, including making them less aggressive. More importantly, a spayed or neutered dog is a lot less likely to develop certain types of cancers, which are always a risk among fertile dogs. There are way too many pets on the street as it is, so unless you really know what you are doing, it is best not to let your dogs breed.
A bit of knowledge and a lot of love are pretty much the only things that your dog needs to lead a long and healthy life with you and your family. In fact, if you are careful right from the beginning and take care of everything that we discussed here, you will actually end up ensuring the wellbeing of your pet and the rest of your family, both in the long and the short run.