Maintaining a Good Diet
1. Feed your dog high-quality, well-balanced dog food and treats.
Making sure your dog eats a nutritious diet is an important part of protecting their health. Look at the first five ingredients listed on the pet food label. These ingredients make up the majority of the food. Meat (not meat by-products) and vegetables should be the first few ingredients in the dog food. Lower down the list may be meat by-products and grains.
- Avoid common filler ingredients in dog food that may actually harm your dog’s health. Some of these include: Ethoxyquin, Propylene Glycol, BHT/BHA, Corn Syrup and corn, and animal by-products.
- Occasionally, some dogs might show signs of a food sensitivity or intolerance. Watch for: diarrhea, vomiting, or skin conditions. Work with the veterinarian to determine what food ingredients the dog can and cannot eat.
2. Be careful when feeding your dog human food.
Realize that certain human foods can hurt or kill a dog. Dog’s bodies can’t always metabolize foods like humans can so make sure your dog does not have access to these foods: grapes, raisins, chocolates, avocados, yeast dough, nuts, alcohol, onions, garlic, chives, and sugar-free gum (mainly the ingredient xylitol ). These are all toxic to dogs.
- While you can make your own dog food, you must work with an animal nutritionist or veterinarian with education in pet food nutrition. This ensures your dog’s diet is nutritionally balanced.
3. Maintain your dog’s weight at a healthy level.
A dog is considered overweight when he weighs 10-20% more than his ideal body weight. If he is 20% overweight, he’s considered obese. Being obese can shorten a dog’s life span by 2 years. Obese dogs are at higher risk for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and urinary bladder stones. Talk with a vet about the ideal weight for your dog and feed him accordingly.
- Most dogs are overweight or obese because they don’t get enough exercise and get too much food. Refer to the package of pet food for specific guidelines about feeding based on ideal weight.
4. Give your dog healthy treats.
Just like in humans, snacking or treats, can add quite a few calories to a dog’s daily calorie allowance. This could cause your dog to put on extra weight. Try giving your dog homemade treats, instead of store bought ones.
- Give your dog low calorie treats like baby carrots, canned green beans (low sodium or rinsed to wash off the added salt), or small slices of cooked sweet potatoes.
5. Give your dog a constant supply of fresh water.
Dogs need lots of fresh water for the body to properly work and digest food. The water should be clean and fresh, so change the water at least once a day. Clean the water bowl or bucket with dish soap and water every once. Rinse and dry the container before refilling with fresh water.
- Bacteria and algae can grow in the bowl, especially during warm weather. In freezing temperatures, you’ll need to keep the bowl from freezing.
Grooming Your Dog
1. Groom your dog regularly.
Brush your dog’s coat to keep it shiny and healthy. This will also encourage good circulation. Note any new lumps, bumps, or cysts on the skin and bring them to your veterinarian’s attention. Scabs, redness, or itchy skin should also be addressed by a veterinarian.
- Grooming is also a good time to check for skin conditions like fleas, ticks, and mites.
2. Clip your dog’s nails only if you know how.
While it may take a little time for you dog to get used to, clipping the nails can become a routine part of grooming. Just be careful not to trim the “quick,” the part of the nail that contains sensitive blood vessels and nerves. This is impossible to see if the dogs nails are black and he will need the vet nurse to do it.
- If you aren’t sure how to clip the nails, have your veterinarian technician show you how to clip your dog’s nails.
3. Brush your dog’s teeth every day.
Brushing lets you remove any plaque or bacterial build up on your dog’s teeth. This is also a good chance to check the mouth for sores, loose or damaged teeth, or any other odd problems. Only use a dental toothpaste made for dogs. The fluoride in human toothpaste is poisonous to dogs and can cause serious health problems.
- Occasionally, your dog will need a dental cleaning at the vet’s office. He’ll be sedated while the veterinarian performs a thorough examination
- and cleaning.