Your four-legged friend relies on you to keep him in tip top condition, and we're sure you want the best for your pooch. Read on to find out how to keep your dog healthy, so you can enjoy many fun-filled years together.
Just like you, your dog needs a well-balanced diet rich in fats, proteins and carbohydrates. A good diet can help to strengthen your pet's immune system as well as give them a shiny coat, bright eyes and healthy skin. How much food your dog needs will depend on his breed and his stage of life. Older dogs may need less food as they begin to slow down and become less active and young puppies may need to be fed little and often.
If you are worried your dog is overweight, you should first take him to the vet to ensure there is no underlying medical reason. You should avoid giving your dog too many treats and try not to give your pooch 'human food' as treats. There are also certain foods that may harm your dog, such as chocolate, grapes, onion and garlic that can poison your dog and have potentially fatal results.
Exercise is important to your dog at all stages of his life. While different breeds will require different levels of activity, all dogs require daily exercise for both their mental and physical health. If your dog is overweight or new to exercise, start slowly with a gentle walk in the park and gradually increase the speed and distance of your walks as your dog gets fitter. If your pooch is old or has mobility issues, try taking him for swimming sessions or hydrotherapy.
Grooming is not just for show dogs. All dogs need some degree of upkeep when it comes to keeping their fur and claws in good condition. Brushing your dog's coat regularly not only helps you to bond, but it can also help him get used to being handled while allowing you to check for any changes in his skin, such as lumps or injuries.
For his claws, unless you can safely trim them yourself, it may be best to book him in to the vet for this. Cutting your dog's claws incorrectly could cause bleeding if you accidently cut into the sensitive part of your dog's claw, known as the 'quick.'
"A good diet can help to strengthen your pet's immune system as well as give them a shiny coat, bright eyes and healthy skin."
A lack of exercise and too many treats will soon cause your pooch to pile on the pounds. Some pet stores and vet practices will allow you to bring your dog in to be weighed free of charge, so you can keep a close eye on those kilos. The optimal weight for your dog will depend on his breed, age and sex, but your vet should be able to provide you with some advice on the ideal weight for your dog.
Taking your pup for an annual check-up can help identify any problems with his health before they become more serious. A yearly trip to the vet is an ideal opportunity to discuss your pet's weight and body condition, as well as ensuring their booster vaccinations are up to date. Your dog will need vaccinations once a year to prevent infectious diseases such as parvovirus and canine distemper.
Dogs are sociable creatures and love nothing more than play time with their owners. Whether it's a game of fetch in the park or a tug-of-war head to head at home, the benefits of playtime extend way beyond just having fun!
Not only does playtime provide physical and mental stimulation for your dog, it can also be used as a training tool. For example, if your dog gets too rough during play, stop the game and say 'no' firmly. This will help your dog to understand this behaviour is not acceptable, and you can reinforce good behaviour with belly rubs and treats.
While there are things you can do to keep your dog fit and healthy, some things are out of your hands. We know it's hard to think about your best friend becoming sick or injured, but the reality is, it can and does happen. Should anything happen to your dog, could you afford the vet bills to put it right?
Pet insurance could provide valuable peace of mind for you and your dog, knowing you could have a financial safety net in place to pay for or towards treatment should your pup need it. You can take out a pet insurance policy for your dog as soon as he turns 4 weeks old. It may be a good idea to insure your dog as soon as you can, as your premiums are likely to be cheaper while your dog is still young and healthy.
To get an indication of how much it could cost to protect your pooch, why not compare pet insurance quotes now? It takes a matter of minutes to do and you can compare prices and benefits from a range of leading providers.