We all want the best for our dogs, so we can have our furry friends with us for many years. There are many simple things you can do for your dog to help them live a longer, more healthy life.
It all comes down to diet and exercise. It is important that you feed your dog quality food, and the less corn and wheat gluten you feed them, the healthier they will be. Most dog foods that you buy in the store have corn or wheat gluten as the main ingredients, and these are just plain not healthy for your dog. These are just “filler” ingredients that are designed simply to make dog food cheaper, not give your dog a quality diet. When purchasing dog food, go a little higher end, and get dog food that has meat (not animal by-products) as a main ingredient, and with rice gluten as a filler rather than corn or wheat gluten.
You can make poor quality dog food better by adding olive oil for a healthy coat and digestion, and adding cooked potato, rice, or lean beef or liver to their meal. Even doing this once a week is an improvement from their otherwise unhealthy diet.
Exercise is key. You should be walking or playing with your dog at least 15 minutes a day. Even an older dog needs to plod around now and then. Different breeds require different amounts of exercise, and you should make sure that your dog is getting the interaction they need by walking them daily. This not only encourages your dog’s healthy weight, but is mentally stimulating for them as well.
When walking your dog, don’t overdo it- smaller dogs tend to walk for only short spurts at a time, while older dogs need lots of stopping and rest. If it’s hot out, provide water, and avoid walking on sidewalks and pavement, which can burn their poor feet. If you allow your dog to swim in canals and rivers and lakes, make sure they’ve had all their shots (there are shots available to protect your dog against water-borne bacterias) and clean out their ears to prevent yeast infections from moisture left in their ear canals.
Walking your dog not only allows you to spend time with your dog, but also keeps their bones and joints healthy, gives them that mental stimulation of experiencing new sights and smells, and helps with digestion. Even playing with your dog in the yard promotes good health for the both of you.
Avoid giving your dog table scraps. On top of being unhealthy for your dog, your dog will grow to wait for your treats before they will touch their dog food. If you are going to feed your dog from the table, limit it to vegetables (like cooked carrots, broccoli, potato without butter or sour cream), and small amounts of your unseasoned meats.
Take your dog to the vet regularly, at least once a year, to keep them updated on shots and to make sure they are aging well. Your vet will catch joint issues, weight problems, and skin issues, and help you maximize your dog’s health.
At all times, have fresh water available for your dog. Rather than giving them water in a self-watering dish, where the water becomes stagnant, provide fresh water often, and make sure to rinse out their water dish every time you fill it. I give my dog new water every time I hear her drinking from her bowl, often taking the dish from her to give her fresh water so her beverage is nice and fresh. If you think water that’s been sitting out for 2 hours tastes good, pour yourself a glass and drink it a few hours from now. You won’t like it- it tastes like dirt.
Give your dog an overall health multi-vitamin. You can buy them at animal surplus stores, or even your local grocery store. There are multi-vitamins for aging dogs, growing dogs, dogs with coat issues, and stressed dogs. Give your dog a multi-vitamin that suits them most.
Provide dental care for your dog by giving them hard biscuits designed to cleanse their teeth, or get toothpaste made for dogs and brush your dog’s teeth with your finger or a toothbrush. Even if you only brush your dog’s teeth every few months, it makes a big difference to their health and quality of life.
There are many ways you can help your dog live longer and healthier. Proper diet and exercise are key, and easy to do.