Any pet owner will tell you dogs don’t live close to long enough.
Although your dog’s lifespan will vary, the average is eleven years for small and medium dogs. Large breed dogs only live an average of eight years.
During their short lives, you want to keep your dog happy and healthy. Keeping your canine healthy might even lengthen their lifespan and allow you more years with them.
Are you wondering how to keep your dog healthy and happy? Although each dog’s personality will create unique needs, there are some general things they all need. Continue reading these thirteen tips to find out what those things are.
What Do Dogs Require to Be Happy and Healthy?
Dogs require many of the same things humans do to be happy and healthy. Their most basic requirements include healthy food, water, and exercise. Socialization and mental stimulation are also important.
Each dog will have unique needs that have to do with their personality. Energetic dogs, for example, will need more stimulation. Anxious dogs may need more of your affection to be happy.
It can be overwhelming trying to figure out what you need to do for your dog. This is especially true for first-time dog owners. The good news is it isn’t as complicated as you think.
Realistically, your dog requires what you require. Their needs are just fulfilled in a different, more dog-oriented way. Below are thirteen helpful tips to help you keep your pet happy and healthy.
1. Provide Appropriate Shelter
If your dog stays inside most of the time, you may think they don’t need a dog house. But, if your dog spends any time outdoors, they need a place to go if they want to relax. Providing an appropriate shelter will help avoid overheating and decrease anxiety.
The dog house doesn’t have to be fancy or large. A simple dog house placed in a shady spot is adequate if your dog stays inside most of the time.
If your dog stays outside most of the time (like farm dogs), you should provide a more substantial, comfortable shelter. There should be enough room for them to turn around comfortably.
2. Clean, Dry Bedding
All dogs need clean, dry bedding to help them stay warm. Like their human companions, dogs can get a little chilly at any point in the year. Bedding should be available in the colder months, as well as in the warmer months.
A soft bed and a blanket or two are adequate. Some dogs like to sleep with stuffed animals or a favorite pillow. Be sure to provide these items as appropriate for your canine.
3. Keep Fresh Water Available 24/7
Access to clean, fresh water at all times is essential to keeping your dog healthy. Don’t just top off their water bowl at feeding time. Take the time to rinse out their water bowls at least once a day.
Get in the habit of checking your dog’s water bowl throughout the day and topping off as necessary. Dump and rinse or wash the dishes at feeding time. Always glance at the bowls before you leave for work and when you get home to make sure they’re full and clean.
4. Watch Your Dog’s Weight
Being overweight has severe consequences for your dog. Keep a close eye on their weight, especially as they get older. If you believe their weight is becoming a concern, speak with your vet about how to help your furry friend healthily lose those excess pounds.
Common ways to help your dog lose weight include dieting and exercise. Before starting your dog on a diet dog food, always check with your vet. Remember to take exercise slowly for overweight dogs for the sake of their joints and heart.
5. Feed High-Quality Pet Food
High-quality pet food is another basic dog essential. Think of high-quality foods like organic produce and lean protein. Cheap, knock-off dog foods are fast food.
When you think of it in these terms, it’s obvious why high-quality food is essential. Yes, the cheap stuff is okay for a quick fix once in a blue moon. But it shouldn’t be your dog’s primary food source.
A high-quality dog good will contain all the nutrients your pet needs to stay healthy. Basic dry food can be supplemented with healthy wet dog food. Treats are okay in small portions, but you should avoid giving too many.
6. Exercise Your Dog Regularly
How much exercise your dog needs will vary based on their breed. All dogs need at least a moderate amount of activity every day, however.
You should be doing more than a quick five-minute walk. Even the most relaxed, calm dogs need at least half an hour of activity every day. High energy dogs may require an hour or more.
If you aren’t sure how much exercise your dog needs, pay attention to how they behave. Dogs who are destructive or anxious often have excess energy. Try increasing playtime and lengthening walks to see if it helps correct the unwanted behaviors.
7. Play With Your Dog Daily
Playing with your dog can count as part of their daily exercise, although they still need at least a short walk. Playing will keep your dog feeling loved and happy. Playtime also keeps your dog’s mind sharp, which is especially important as they age.
Vary your playtime routine. There are a lot of games you can play with your dog. Tug-o-war, fetch, tag, and hide-n-seek are only a few examples.
8. Visit the Vet Once a Year
Your pet needs annual checkups like you. Schedule yearly vet visits and ensure your pet gets any necessary vaccines. Vaccines protect them from preventable diseases that could be lethal.
Annual vet visits are also an excellent way to catch any health issues early on. Discuss any concerns you may have with your vet during the checkup.
9. Visit the Vet Twice a Year After Age Eight
Once a year vet visits are fine for normal-aged dogs. Once your dog turns eight, however, they’re considered seniors. Dogs age much faster than humans do.
Once your dog is a senior, they need to visit the vet twice a year. At this point in their lives, they’re more likely to develop health issues. Some common health issues include arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes.
10. Regularly Socialize With Animals and People
Regularly socializing your dog with both other animals and people is vital for several reasons. For one, they’ll be happier when they interact with more people. Dogs love to be shown attention, and socialization is a great way for them to get some.
Socializing is also important to keep your dog’s temperament friendly. Varying interactions can keep your dog’s mind sharp as they age, too.
11. Spay or Neuter
Spaying or neutering your dog will help protect them against certain types of cancer. It also helps prevent overpopulation, which is a severe issue.
Each successive pregnancy can decrease your female dog’s health. Male dogs who are still intact will try to escape when they smell a female in heat. This places them in dangerous situations that could otherwise be avoided.
12. Use Flea and Tick Prevention
Fleas and ticks are more than annoying. They can cause serious health issues, like anemia. These blood-suckers also transmit diseases that can be contracted by your pet.
When treating for fleas and ticks, remember you have to treat every pet in the home. This includes any indoor-only pets, like cats. Any pet can have fleas, and they all likely have them if one does.
13. Brush Teeth Twice a Week
Bad teeth affect the quality of life for senior dogs. If teeth aren’t taken care of, they can deteriorate quickly. Dogs can get gum disease and bacteria build-up like humans.
Brush your dog’s teeth twice a week with canine toothpaste. Ask your vet for recommendations on a safe, effective toothpaste. If you start dogs on teeth brushing when they’re puppies, it can make this task much more manageable.
Bonus Tip: Really Get to Know Your Dog
The best thing you can do for your dog is to really get to know them. It goes beyond making your dog happy by spending time with them.
When you really know your dog, you can sense changes in their temperament that might indicate a mental or physical health issue. When something doesn’t seem right, you can get it checked so your dog can be their usual selves once more.
Do You Still Have Questions on How to Keep Your Dog Healthy?
Keeping your dog healthy and happy requires many of the same things people need. Thinking about your dog’s needs in those terms might make it easier to understand. The tips listed above can help you take the best care of your canine friend.
Do you still have questions on how to keep your dog healthy? Check out our other blog posts. You’ll find a wealth of information on related topics.