Feed a healthy diet: A dog needs a healthy balanced diet to ensure long life and good health. As in humans, a poor quality diet can lead to many health problems such as bone disease, heart ailments and gastro intestinal problems. There are a variety of dog foods available in the market today. Choose one that is ideal for your dog’s age, breed and activity level. If you are feeding your dog home-cooked food, your vet will be able to help you format a diet that is healthy and wholesome.
Control your dog’s weight: One of the main diseases plaguing our pets today is obesity. Indian vets estimate that one out of six pets in urban India is obese. Overweight dogs are at risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension and congestive heart failure, respiratory disease, liver problems, diabetes and even neurological problems. Carrying too much weight also increases the severity of hip, back and knee problems. Research has increasingly shown that obesity directly or indirectly contributes to a shorter life span in dogs.
Exercise your dog daily: Keeping your dog lean and fit can add years to his life. Exercise helps to maintain a healthy weight, strengthens joints and muscles and provides an outlet for your dog’s energies. You should exercise your dog every day. Take it for a walk, a swim, a hike, or play a game of fetch, or play hide and seek with it. What you do with your dog depends on what kind of dog you have, its needs and size. Most working breeds like the Beagle, Boxer or Labrador, require more exercise than sedentary breeds – just playing fetch or running may not be enough for them, these dogs need mental stimulation too. Hunting dogs love to go for a hike, Labradors enjoy swimming and sled dogs like the Husky would enjoy carting.
Visit the Vet: It is vital that your dog gets regular health checks to keep diseases and illness at bay. Especially if your pet is geriatric or prone to health problems, diagnosing the problem at an early stage could help cure it faster and in certain cases, may even save its life. Depending on your dog’s health, age and other factors, your vet will decide on what an examination should include.
Train for a well behaved pet: A well trained and obedient dog has an easier life than its untrained peers. If your pet resists jumping up on strangers, sits or lies quietly when asked and walks politely on lead, it is bound to spend more time with its owner going to picnics, doggy parties, the local park and spend less time at home alone. Training can also save your dog’s life in an emergency. For instance, should your dog spot another dog across the street and rush forward, a simple recall command or a stay command could well save his life.
Groom your dog regularly: All dogs need a regular grooming and bathing session to keep their coats in glossy condition and free of parasites and skin diseases. It is also important to ensure that your dog’s nails are clipped regularly and the ears are kept clean and free of mites. Whilst grooming your dog do check for problems, ticks, dandruff, shedding or a smelly coat that could be indicative of a skin disease. Grooming a dog helps build a special bond between a dog and its owner. Unless your dog has a long coat and is in need of professional grooming, it is advisable that you, as the owner, groom and bathe him regularly. Do remember to feel for any lumps and bumps as you go over your dog’s body.
Play with your pet: All dogs love to play and enjoy learning new tricks and commands as long as the training is carried out using positive reward-based methods. Provide your dog with toys that will stimulate him mentally, teach him new commands and spend plenty of quality time with him. It will go a long way in ensuring he lives a more fulfilled life than a dog that just eats and sleeps all day long. Dogs love to exercise their brain and enjoy learning new commands even at an old age. And do remember to give your dog plenty of love and care and be there for him just as he is there for you.
A healthy and happy pet makes for an enjoyable companion. Make sure you take some time out each day to care for your dog’s health and well-being.