According to the Pet Food Institute, approximately 20% of dogs in the U.S are obese. As a dog parent, your top priority should be your pet’s health and wellbeing. Depending on the size, age and breed of your dog, his nutritional needs may vary. You can always turn to your veterinarian for an expert's guidance when navigating your dog's nutrition, but doing your research can also go a long way.
When asking how to keep your pet healthy, first think about what you will be feeding him. As tempting as it is to feed your pup scraps from your plate, avoid "dropping" food on the floor for him. Dog food is formulated to provide your dog with all the nutrients he needs and eating too many scraps can lead to weight gain and obesity.
Other factors that can lead to excessive weight gain for your dog include overeating and enjoying too many treats. Your dog's treat intake should be limited to 10 percent of their daily calories to keep them at a healthy weight. This may be more challenging if you are in the process of training your dog and use treats as positive reinforcement, but an import guideline to follow, nonetheless. Be sure to also monitor and measure how much food you are giving your dog, rather than leaving his bowl full all day long.
When deciding on dog food, always first ask your breeder or shelter which brand and type they were feeding your dog before you brought him home. A dramatic switch in foods could upset your dog’s stomach. Next, discuss dog food options with your veterinarian. They should be able to provide you with brands of food they prefer and a list of nutrients and ingredients that are important for your pup to consume. As you are selecting dog food, be sure to read the label and not pick based on the look of the bag it comes in. The type of food you feed your dog will change as he matures and his health needs change. Your veterinarian can inform you when it’s time to switch up your dog’s diet.
Fitness and Exercise
Every dog is different, as are his needs for exercise. The breed, age, and sex of your dog will all influence the amount of physical activity needed to keep him happy and healthy.
Puppies have more energy than adult dogs, although that doesn't necessarily mean they require more exercise. It is possible to over-exercise a growing puppy and damage his joints. It's suggested to exercise puppies in several short periods throughout the day, rather than one long walk or jog.
It’s best to ask your veterinarian how much exercise your puppy should receive daily, but according to the Kennel Club, a general rule to follow is five minutes of exercise per month of age, twice a day, until the puppy is full-grown. (2 months old = 10 minutes of exercise, twice a day)
Before getting a dog, learn the activity and energy levels of his breed. High-energy dogs will require more exercise than low-energy dogs. Generally, all adult dogs should receive between 30 minutes and two hours of physical activity and mental stimulation daily.
Ensuring your dog is physically active not only keeps him healthy but will also improve behavior, social skills and your bond with your pup.
Keeping up with your dog's grooming care is essential for his health and wellness. However, every dog's grooming needs are different based on a variety of factors, such as breed, coat type, age, and activity level.
Veterinarians often recommend creating grooming schedules to better stay on top of all of your dog's needs. The first step is to observe your dog and take note of how often he needs to be bathed, trimmed, groomed, etc. Pay attention to when he starts to itch following his last bath, how oily or dull his coat gets, and how quickly his nails grow. Of course, these observations will change as your dog matures, but they will be great benchmarks for starting your grooming schedule.
When it comes to bathing your dog, try not to overdo it. If dogs are bathed too frequently it can dry out their skin and hair coat and may cause problems. Be sure to stick to a shampoo made specifically for him and avoid using human products during his bath. Your veterinarian should be able to help you find a shampoo that will work with your dog’s coat. Lastly, avoid using medicated shampoos unless recommended by your veterinarian. If you feel your dog is suffering from a skin condition, it’s best to get an expert opinion.
In addition to bathing, your dog's other grooming needs include dental care, nail trimming, haircuts and brushing, and ear and eye care.
A Dog's Grooming Schedule
For more information on dog grooming, visit the resources below
Questions To Ask Your Veterinarian
After taking the time to find a trustworthy veterinarian to care for your dog, be sure that you are asking the right questions during your visits.
1. Is My Pet Up To Date On Vaccinations?
2. What Shampoo Do You Recommend I Use For My Dog?
3. What Food Do You Recommend I Feed My Dog?
4. What Flea And Tick Meds Do You Recommend For My Pet?
5. Is My Pet A Healthy Weight, And Is He Growing At A Normal Pace?
6. Does My Pet Need A Dental Cleaning? What Should I Be Doing At Home To Maintain His Dental Care?
7. Does My Pet Need Any Preventative Care?
8. How Do I Stop My Pet From Engaging In Undesirable Behavior?
9. What Is Pet Insurance, And Does It Work?
10. How Often Do We Need To Come Back?
As a responsible pet owner, vaccinating your dog is imperative. Vaccinations protect your pet from highly contagious and deadly diseases and improve your pet's overall quality of life.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there are five top reasons for vaccinating your dog:
- Vaccinations prevent many pet illnesses
- Vaccinations can help avoid costly treatments for diseases that can be prevented
- Vaccinations prevent diseases that can be passed between animals and from animals to people
- Diseases prevalent in wildlife, such as rabies and distemper, can infect unvaccinated pets
- In many areas, local or state ordinances require certain vaccinations of household pets
Puppies, like children, will receive several sets of vaccination boosters to provide them with as much protection as possible. Adult dogs should be vaccinated every few years for most vaccines, to ensure they stay protected at the proper level of immunity. Your veterinarian will be able to determine a vaccination schedule that's appropriate for your pup.
The vaccinations your dog needs depends on several variables, such as age, overall health, state regulations, and risk of exposure. According to Banfield Pet Hospital, all dogs should receive the following vaccinations:
This vaccine protects against several potentially fatal diseases.
This disease is fatal for all mammals, including humans. These vaccines are very highly recommended and can prevent very serious diseases.
Bordetella: (Kennel Cough)
This vaccine helps prevent or reduce the severity of this serious respiratory infection that can lead to pneumonia.