These days, dogs are living longer and longer, and people are treating their pets more and more like family members. For this reason, many dogs are treated for chronic health conditions, serious illness, and so forth that would have simply resulted in having your dog put to sleep in years past. Of course, it is possible to give your dog all the wonders of medical science, such as hip surgery, diabetes medications, seizure medications, steroids for skin conditions and so on. However, just as with people, it is wiser and financially more feasible to take preventative measures than to make interventions.
Feed a good quality of food right from the start. Just as with people, good feeding in infancy leads to good health in adulthood. Many serious problems like hip dysplasia can be avoided with proper diet, but it has to start young and be consistent. Many people feed completely homemade dog foods. I don’t know that I recommend this. I think that it is important to have a good brand of staple dry food that is always available to your dog (unless she is a chow hound who will just wolf down as much food as you are willing to put out.) Be sure to buy a high quality of kibble. Don’t buy a bargain brand or you are likely to find that your dog is hungry all the time and that you have a huge cleanup job on your hands. Bargain dog food is often made mostly of fillers like corn meal that go right through your dog’s system without nourishing him.
Be sure your dog gets plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. Dogs need to go out for walks or runs (depending on the dog) at least once a day. Twice is better. Be sure your dog always has plenty of appropriate toys to play with and that you play some kind of interactive game with your dog several times a week. Daily is better. Throwing a ball or Frisbee, playing tag, going for a bike ride, are all good games to play with your dog. Don’t play tug of war as this can lead to problems with dominance issues. It is fine for dogs to play tug of war with each other, but not with people.
Keep your dog clean with regular brushing and a wipe down with a damp cloth once a week or so. I do not subscribe to the notion that dogs need frequent baths. I think this is very hard on their skin and coat. A thorough brushing daily, or at least a couple of times a week, removes dirt from your dog’s fur and coat. You can use a dry shampoo made of 2 parts cornstarch to one part baking soda to eliminate odors. Sprinkle it over the coat, rub it in, let it stand for a couple of minutes, and brush vigorously. Be sure to check your dog’s ears and toenails. Wipe out the ears with a slightly damp cloth as needed. Clip the nails as needed. Understand that, if you keep your dog active, toenail clipping may not be necessary.
The last thing I will mention is the most important. Know your dog. If he is a purebred, read up on the breed and understand the types of behavior and health issues you may face. If he is a mix, try to determine what types of dogs he is comprised of, and do the same. It is preferable to do this before you choose a pet, however, very often our pets choose us, so we have no choice but to do our research after the fact!
Understanding your dog’s breed will help you to know what kinds of ailments you should look out for. For example, large breeds often tend to have hip dysplasia. If you are choosing a puppy, be sure to see it’s parents and find out if there is a family history of hip dysplasia. Even if there is not, be sure to feed your dog a diet rich in Omega 3 Fatty acids and calcium to avoid this problem down the line. You can click to read more. This site will educate you about the proper ways of taking good care of your pet so you can ensure that he or she is always healthy and happy.
Breed also plays a large role in temperament and the types of training that are effective with dogs. You may be an excellent dog trainer for a bulldog type, but this will not help you much in dealing with a Catahoula Leopard Dog. I say this from personal experience. It is important to understand the psychology of your dog to be able to train him most effectively.
By taking good care of your dog and being proactive in his health and training right from the start, you can expect to have a happy, healthy friend and family member to share your life with for a good, long time.