What Is a Healthy Dog?
When you think of a healthy dog, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Do you think of a dog that is fed nutritious food? Perhaps you imagine a dog that has had all of his or her shots, or one that has been spayed and neutered and receives regular wellness checks. These are certainly ways to ensure that your pup is physically healthy, but just as health is all encompassing for humans, so it is for our canine companions as well. Good health isn’t just about the physical aspects, but the mental and emotional sides of life as well.
Whether your dog is a young puppy or an aging senior, ensuring that you attend to all of his or her needs is very important. The ideal health regimen for any dog should encompass the mind, body, and spirit alike. While our animals may not be able to communicate their needs verbally, their bodies and actions certainly offer indicators of what they need. For example, a dog that is sleeping too much or shows no enthusiasm despite a clean bill of health may well just need to go for an invigorating walk or to play a game of fetch with his or her guardian.
Let’s take a look at some of the most important aspects of your dog’s overall health:
This can be a source of frustration for dog guardians. Doing research online often provides a number of different answers depending on the site that you choose to read. One veterinarian or organization may recommend that you serve only foods that you cook yourself or only premium foods, while others may tell you that anything carried at your grocery store will be an acceptable choice. How do you know who to listen to?
The most important thing you can do when it comes to nutrition for your dog is to do your own homework. Instead of taking a single recommendation, look at various opinions and see for yourself what your dog really needs. Providing proper nutrition is a very important part of preserving the health of your dog or puppy.
This is another crucial aspect of caring for your dog’s physical health. While most people know to bring a puppy in for vaccines and to take their dog to the vet whenever there are unusual symptoms, however, many dog guardians give little thought to the idea of wellness checks. These checks can help your veterinarian get to know your dog better, enabling them to recognize signs of illness or medical problems more quickly and helping them to identify any potential problems. Remember that your dog shouldn’t have to be sick to receive regular veterinary care.
This is one of the biggest areas where pet owners seem to really miscommunicate with their canine companions. Your dog or puppy needs exercise for both their physical and mental health. While placing a dog out in the backyard may offer them ample room, without a human or canine companion to play with, they may not be getting enough exercise. Taking your dog for a brisk walk every day is very important, and getting out there to play a game of fetch or chase one another around is good for both you and your dog.
Understand that dogs are by nature very active creatures. So often, people living in small apartments or in urban environments seem to believe that getting a small dog that can remain indoors is a safe and healthy choice. While your dog can survive indoors, it is not going to thrive. Even if you have to walk your puppy down a busy sidewalk or take a drive to the local park, you must be certain that he or she gets plenty of playtime each day. Remember that exercise is important for your dog’s mind and spirit, as well as his or her physical health.
While this may seem like an obvious element of your dog’s health, there are many common misconceptions when it comes to providing proper shelter for a dog. One thing that must certainly be considered is temperature. Keeping a dog outside all day or night during days that are very hot or very cold is simply not appropriate. Heat strokes can happen very quickly in dogs, and even arctic breeds need a source of warmth during cold months. Dogs are domesticated animals, and a life spent totally outdoors is both lonely and unhealthy.
When considering shelter, it is also important to think in terms of size. While your small apartment might be okay for a tiny dog, provided he or she gets enough exercise, it is likely not appropriate for a large breed. Understand that dogs need room to run, stretch, and play. Consider the needs of the specific breed of dog before adopting, and ensure that the shelter you provide is large enough for your dog.
As most pet guardians will attest, dogs are very smart animals. They love a challenge, and they love to figure things out. Just as humans need mental stimulation to help fight off boredom and stress, dogs need a challenge as well. Providing training and presenting your dogs with toys or activities that engage the brain is a great way to spend time together while helping to provide the mental stimulation that your dog needs.
Playtime is about more than providing leisure or a reward for your dog, it is an essential part of health. While active adults may be able to see play as a reward for certain accomplishments, this is the time where your dog is going to get exercise and learn to socialize with humans or other animals. Providing stimulating activities such as a job or a game of fetch can help ensure that play offers physical benefits, while the companionship of a human guardian or other dogs will provide socialization and mental stimulation as well.
Putting it all Together