Healthy dogs are happy dogs. And keeping your dog healthy and happy is easier today than ever. There are so many great products on the market and a lot of new research that helps us do the best thing for our dog. My dogs are like kids to me, so I do whatever I can to keep them feeling great… and happy.
Here are 15 tips that I’ve found to be must dos for my two. I hope you find them helpful too!
1) Encourage playtime and exercise. The old saying is…. a tired dog is a good dog. And it’s really true. Most dogs get into trouble when they are not mentally stimulated and have a lot of energy. Find toys that rock their world and then play with them. Games of hide and seek and catch not only help drain energy but it keeps them thinking too. Treat balls and activity toys keep them mentally stimulated.
2) Stay up to date on vaccines. Parvo and distemper are carried by many dogs and other wild animals. Don’t take a chance. If you’re worried about over vaccinating, ask your vet for a titter test to check immunity levels.
3) Get out and explore. Dogs get bored, just like humans. If you do the same walk every day, you’re bored. So are they. Take them to the woods and the beach. There are new sounds, smells and people to get them excited about their exercise.
4) Don’t skip an annual vet appointment just because your dog seems good. My vet found a very small mast cell tumor early on Baxter, way before I would have felt it. The surgery to remove while small was easy and the outcome was great. Don’t let the little things become big things.
5) Feed healthy food. Yes, it does matter. If you ate at McDonald’s every day, you know how you’d feel. Cheaper dog foods that are full of fillers are just like eating junk food. Not sure what to feed? Dog Food Advisor is a great website to read about foods and what food might be best for your dog.
6) Know what “people food” is good and what is not. My Pippa loves veggies and fruit. So she gets a lot of them with her dinner. Green beans, peas and cauliflower are favorites. The key is to not add the bad things. Stay away from spices, butter, garlic and salt. Want to know what is safe? Click here.
7) Make sure their outdoor environment is safe. Many dogs of found mushrooms in their yard and paid the price. Keep your yard free of all mushrooms and toxic plants. Cocoa mulch is also very dangerous. Do not leave a small dog around a pool without supervision. And make sure that you only use pet safe, natural fertilizers and weed treatment.
8) Pet proof your home. When I brought Pippa home from rescue, I quickly learned she was like having a toddler in my home. Dogs (especially bored dogs) find lots of things to chew. Until you know your dog and how they spend their alone time, keep your home free of easily chewed items. I lost 2 pair of ear buds, one pair of glasses, and 3 pair of shoes before I learned.
9) Socialize your dog early so they are open to new experiences. The dog trainer I took my puppies to said a new puppy should meet 20 dogs in their first 6 months. They should learn to think other dogs are friends, not something to be afraid of. Puppy class, walks where there are other dogs and day care are all great ways to socialize your pup.
10) Crate train your dog. Start early and teach your dog that their crate is a safe place to rest. Put a cozy bed in the crate, a few chew toys and leave the door open. Most dogs will find a crate to be their cave. Do not turn the crate into a place for punishment. If they love their crate, it’s a great place to keep them when you need to confine them… so they don’t lick the plumber to death while he’s on his back under your sink. Yes, that happened.
11) Don’t leave your dog in the car alone. And there are a couple of reasons for that. The first of course, cars get hot very fast. Even on a cooler day, they can heat up much quicker than you would think. And secondly, dog flipping is a real thing. People are stealing dogs from yards and cars to sell online. Don’t leave your dog in a situation where they could be taken.
12) Ditch the rawhide chews. They are dangerous. I learned early and paid an emergency vet bill when one of my dogs decided she wasn’t going to share and swallowed a rawhide piece. As they get wet, they swell. So they can get stuck in the throat or stomach and cause a life threatening issue. There are so many great safe chews on the market from antlers to bully sticks. But stay away from cheap rawhide. Besides being a danger in swallowing, most come from China and you have no idea what chemicals they were cleaned and treated with…. they are just a bad choice.
13) Keep a first aid kit on hand. It should contain a wound cleaning solution, gauze, medical tape, tweezers, a muzzle that fits your dog, styptic powder for broken or torn nails, a dog thermometer, a tick twister, a fresh bottle of hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting (on advice of vet only), activated charcoal (in case of ingesting of a toxin, also on advice of your vet), sterile saline wash in case they injure their eye or have a foreign object, Benedryl (1 mg per pound) in case of sting or allergic reaction and an antibiotic ointment. You should also have your vet’s number and the poison control center number in a place you can find it immediately. The other thing that I cannot recommend enough, learn to do the Heimlich Maneuver and CPR on your dog. I had to use the Heimich last year and I was so glad that I had taken the time to learn it earlier. You only have a couple of minutes to clear a choking dog airway. So know what to do. You won’t have time to Google it when you need it.
14) Do not feed your dog cooked bones. Raw bones from a cow are hard and will not splinter. But cooked bones become soft. Chicken and pork become dangerously soft. Just don’t do it.
15) And lastly…. but most importatly, spay and neuter your dog. They will be healthier, happier and you will be helping by not adding to the over population of dogs in this county. If you can’t afford to neuter your pet, there are many shelters that offer low cost help. It’s a responsibility we all need to take seriously.