Want your pet to have its best chance at optimal health and a long, happy life? Then check out the 8 easy tips from our Burlington and Bellingham vets on how to create a healthy lifestyle for your pet.
Creating a Balanced & Happy Life for Your Pet
At our Burlington and Bellingham animal hospital we know that you love your dog and want them to live a long and happy life. An essential step in helping your pet live a life that promotes good health and longevity is to adopt the basic lifestyle guidelines below and make them a part of your pet's everyday schedule.
1 - Long Walks to Promote Fitness & Contentment
A tired dog is a happy dog. Taking long walks with your pet every day (rain or shine) helps to promote physical fitness for both you and your pet, and helps to keep your dog's brain active. From a young age, regularly encountering new people, pets, noises, and smells while safely by your side can help to give your dog a sense of contentment. Long walks together will also help to build a strong and loving bond between the two of you, and may even help to improve your fitness level too. For most breeds a good starting point is 2 thirty-minute walks a day but be sure to check with your vet to find out what the correct level of exercise is for your pet - and of course - check with your doctor before starting any new exercise plan.
2 - Provide Your Pet with The Nutrition They Need
Along with exercise, good nutrition is essential for building a strong body and immune system for your pet. To be healthy, your pup will need a diet that provides all the right nutrients based on age, breed, and stature. Each meal should also be measured so that your dog receives just the right number of calories to support a healthy lifestyle. Deciding what to feed your dog, as well as how much and how often can be overwhelming. No one understands your pet's nutritional requirements better than your vet. Speak to your vet about the best food for your pet, and ask them to calculate the perfect portion size to suit your pet's needs.
3 - Help Your Pet Achieve & Maintain a Healthy Weight
Obesity in pets is becoming increasingly common, leading to increased health problems for many dogs and cats. Pets carrying extra weight face an increased risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and joint issues to name but a few. By closely following steps 1 and 2 throughout your pet's lifetime you should easily be able to keep your pet at a healthy weight based on their breed, age, and size. Not sure if your pet is at a healthy weight? Speak to your vet, or breeder, to find out how much your pet should weigh, and how to help your dog achieve their ideal weight.
4 - Make Annual Dental Exams a Must
Your pet's oral health strongly affects its overall health. If your pet has gum disease or decayed or broken teeth they will likely be feeling a great deal of discomfort, but these conditions could also negatively impact their overall health resulting in conditions such as heart disease. Help your pet to maintain good oral health by taking them for regular dental cleanings and exams. Routine dental care can help to prevent more severe conditions that could be costly to treat.
5 - Keep Toxins Out of Your Pet's Reach
Several foods and medications that are fine for humans can be extremely toxic to dogs including chocolate, raisins, and any foods or drinks containing the artificial sweetener xylitol, and NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen and Naproxen. Household products that are toxic to pets include fabric softener sheets, many essential oils, bleach, and toilet cleaning pucks. Of course, the list of toxic substances is far too long to include here, but if you are concerned that your pet has eaten something they shouldn't have, contact your vet right away for urgent assistance. We also suggest making a habit of pet-proofing your home every time you put away your groceries to help keep your dog safe and healthy.
6 - Provide Your Dog with Pet-Safe Toys
Many dogs love to play with stuffed animals, while others enjoy a good old-fashioned chew, but not all toys out there are suitable for dogs. If your dog loves to cuddle with a stuffy be sure to purchase a toy that is strong and safe for pets, and always supervise your dog when they are playing with toys to ensure they don't rip toys apart and swallow bits of it. Deciding on the right chew toy for your pet can be challenging. Most vets agree that rawhide and beef bones should be avoided, but there are all kinds of shapes and sizes of dog-safe chew toys available to help fulfill your dog's desire to chew and match their chewing intensity. If your pooch loves to chew ask your vet to recommend a suitable chew toy for your canine companion.
7 - Keep Your Pet's Vaccines & Parasite Prevention Up To Date
Maintaining up-to-date vaccinations for your dog, and administering appropriate parasite prevention medications when needed, can help to protect your pet against a range of highly contagious and serious conditions that can negatively impact your pup's long-term health and longevity. Your pet's vaccination and parasite prevention requirements will be based on their lifestyle. For example, a hunting dog that spends a great deal of time in tall grass and water will have very different requirements from a pug who calls a New York apartment home. Ask your vet which vaccines and parasite medications are right for your dog.
8 - Make Regular Pet Checkups Central to Your Dogs Yearly Preventive Care
Your vet is dedicated to keeping your pet healthy. By bringing your dog in for physical checkups (wellness exams) your vet can take care of those vaccines, provide advice on nutrition, monitor your pet's weight, and watch for any developing health concerns. Healthy middle-aged dogs should be seen about once a year, but if your dog has an underlying illness, or is very young or elderly, your vet may recommend checkups every 6 months or more. Spotting the earliest signs of developing conditions allows for treatment to begin when it is most effective, these checkups also allow your vet to provide elderly dogs with proactive treatments to help your pet feel more comfortable as they continue to age.
Caring for a pet is a big responsibility but the 8 tips above can help you to form a strong emotional bond with your dog, and provide them with their best shot at a long and healthy life.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.
Want to learn more about lifestyle tips for keeping your pet healthy? Contact one of our Chuckanut Valley Vet Clinic and Chuckanut Feline Center vet locations today to book an appointment for your pet.