Your best friend deserves to be healthy. With so many different recommendations coming from the pet industry, it can be difficult to know what’s best for your dog. Maybe you’re a seasoned pet owner or this is your first pet. It can be stressful to know if you’re making the right choices in relation to your dog’s health. When in doubt, consult your vet. But to make things easy, here are five simple ways you can improve your dog’s overall health at home.
1. Upgrade Your Pet’s Food
While traditional dog foods can offer nutrients, they are typically made from unhealthy animal byproducts and starchy fillers. There are quite a few preservatives to avoid in your pet’s food. These include nitrates/nitrites, MSG, and sodium hexametaphosphate. In addition, corn syrup, xylitol, and food dyes can be used to make items tastier and prettier. However, they can increase your dog’s risk for diabetes and other health issues.
Meat meal is another item that is generally found in dog foods. Used to increase protein, these scraps are made from animals that could have been carrying diseases. Melamine, a type of plastic, is also found in some food, and it is toxic to pets. Too much can cause kidney failure. It’s important that your furry friends are consuming healthy ingredients for breakfast and dinner.
To begin your dog’s healthy food journey, try starting them on fresh pet food made with whole ingredients. Beef, chicken, and pork are healthy ways to ensure your pet is getting enough protein. Veggies like green beans, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, and spinach are ingredients that add fiber to your dog’s diet. They can also help your pet get all the vitamins they need.
2. Encourage Exercise
It’s easy to see how an over or underweight dog can experience health risks. Underweight dogs can experience a weakened immune system, hair loss, and shortened life expectancy. And overweight dogs can experience out of whack hormones, joint issues, and heart disease. Just like for humans, diet and exercise are essential to make sure their bodies function appropriately.
It might make it difficult for your lethargic pet to exercise. To get ahead of weight issues, it’s vital that you are keeping your dog active. Whether you take your pup for a long walk or play hard in the backyard for a bit, you want to get them moving. Knowing how much exercise your pet needs varies based on their age, weight, and breed. However, the average rule of thumb recommends 30 minutes to 2 hours of exercise each day.
If you don’t have an active lifestyle, you may take that into consideration when choosing what type of dog to get. Larger breeds, like retrievers, collies, and shepherds will need the most exercise. Short-nosed dogs, like pugs and bulldogs, need the least amount of movement each day.
3. Create a Bath Routine
Some dogs love bath time. It’s as if they are at the spa, enjoying every minute. Others would rather hide under the bed than step foot in the tub. Whichever side of the spectrum your dog is on, it’s important that you are regularly bathing them.
Obviously, it keeps your pet’s coat clean. Whether you’ve got a fluffy boy or a short-haired girl, they need frequent cleansing. This rids your pet’s coat of dirt. With infrequent baths, your pet may become smelly or even sick. Your dog’s fur carries germs and other bacteria that can lead to infected skin. If your dog is prone to allergies, different allergens can cling to their coat and cause irritation.
Bathing your pet can reduce the inflammation caused by contaminants. The warm water can even help moisturize your dog’s skin during cold months. Not to mention, frequent washing will eliminate the amount of pet dander in your home. This can create positive health effects for yourself long-term as well.
4. Try Stimulating Toy
Have you ever watched dogs playing games on the internet? It can be fun to see your dog figure out a new activity, and they usually enjoy it too. Interactive toys can be incredible for a dog’s mental stimulation because they exercise your dog’s brain in a new way.
However, these special toys shouldn’t be accessible to your pet all day, every day. They should be a special treat for when they are a little too hyper. In fact, dogs need around 20 minutes of mental stimulation each day. These toys are good to entertain your dog or for a sweet bonding experience. There are a variety of activities for your dog to try.
You can fill a KONG with treats or buy an interactive puppy puzzle. Even chewing on a toy can keep your furry friend’s mind busy. You can even rotate toys in and out of their toy bucket. Or try teaching your pet a new trick. Whatever you choose, as long as your dog is chewing, licking, or sniffing, they’ll be happy.
5. Promote Eye Health
Just like humans, dogs’ eyes are vulnerable to disease and injury. To protect your dog’s eyes, you must be observant and proactive. According to the American Kennel Club, it’s important to address eye issues early. Ignoring an eye infection can lead to worsening conditions and even vision loss.
There are many causes of eye infections, including viruses, bacteria, fungus, irritants, and trauma. But sometimes your dog’s red and watery eye might not be an infection. It could be glaucoma, dry eye, cherry eye, or a vitamin deficiency. To be safe, consult with your vet when you discover an issue. There are also a variety of ways to prevent these issues from occurring.
First, be sure to keep your dog’s face clean. If you have a dog with lots of folds or long hair, it’s important to frequently groom around their eyes. Next, if your dog is frequently hanging their head out the car window, consider getting them a pair of goggles. These will prevent objects like dust or seed from entering their eyes. Lastly, fresh foods like blueberries, carrots, and broccoli can also improve their eye health.
Improving your pet’s health doesn’t have to be complicated. In many ways, the best human health practices are very similar. If you think something is wrong, be sure to have a vet check them out. However, implementing these steps can help prevent future health risks.