The family dog is a treasured member of the family. Helping to ensure a long and happy life is both a responsibility and the privilege of that family. That long and happy life depends greatly upon how we feed and care for them. Providing good nutrition, exercise and health care is essential in providing the longest, healthiest life possible.
One of the first concerns for a family dog should be that of diet. Feeding an animal too much causes obesity and other health concerns while not feeding enough can cause malnutrition, sickness, scavenging, and behavioral issues. Most packaged dog foods provide feeding guidelines based on the dog’s size and weight. A veterinarian can be consulted for the best dog foods available. This will be based on the age, weight, and current health of the dog, and activity level. Not all dog foods have the same nutritional benefits. Some have by-products and fillers that are outright harmful. Remember, changing to better food can alleviate hyperactivity, fatigue, in-attentiveness, and learning curve.
Ensuring a dog’s optimal weight is extremely important. Weight in dog’s, like humans, can lead to other health concerns such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, respiratory disorders, orthopedic and arthritic issues, and even cancer. This is alarming considering an estimated 44% of household dogs in America are overweight or obese. The food bowl should not always be full. Though genetics or hormones may play a factor, diet and exercise will do much in correcting health concerns.
Exercise is essential. Give your pet as much opportunity for activity as the pet wants, but watch for panting, wheezing, disorientation, or slowing. Each animal is different, but activity should be encouraged and you should participate. Avoid outdoor activity when it is excessively hot or cold, choosing indoor activities or a less extreme part of the day weather-wise to go outside. Plenty of fresh water should always be available.
Doing all you can with food, exercise, and overall health is part of the picture. Maintaining their health with check-ups, immunizations, flea and tick preventatives, and regular bathing is also part of the overall picture. Your pet should see their vet, be treated with all recommended vaccinations.
Ensuring safety at all times is key. Teaching a dog not to enter the roadway or keeping them from it, avoiding excess heat that can cause heat exhaustion or stroke, avoiding extreme cold that can cause hypothermia, and being aware of activities abnormal for your pet are all ways to keep the dog safe. Signs of illness may include symptoms such as weakness, excessive salivation, poor appetite, vomiting or diarrhea, fatigue, excessive scratching, constipation, wheezing, congestion, frequent or strong urine, or any symptom out of character for the dog.
A dog is a joy. That is why he is called man’s best friend. But he is also our responsibility. Taking good care of a dog is keeping a trust placed in you by that dog. It can be a sacred trust. Ever since the domesticated dog placed his fortune in the family of man rather than his own, dogs have depended on us to live up to that bargain long ago made. Be my companion, partner, and co-laborer, and I will care for you as my own family.