The number one thing your dog needs is love–but, more concretely, your dog also needs a healthy, balanced diet along with exercise, fresh air, regular visits to the vet, and dental care. While no one is composing ballads about the joys of brushing your best friend’s teeth, these more mundane methods of loving and caring for your dog can keep your pet healthy for all the years to come.
Meet your dog’s nutritional needs
Whether you choose to feed a commercial or homemade diet, your dog deserves to have quality, balanced food that provides plenty of energy for them to run, snooze, bark out the window, and steal socks. Commercial food must meet the standards provided by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA).
Good dog food contains a balance of meat, vegetables, fruits, and grains. Unlike wolves, dogs are not strict carnivores, and plant products provide essential minerals, vitamins, and fiber that help keep them healthy and their immune systems strong. Your dog’s nutritional needs may vary based on their age, size, health, and activity levels. For example, if your dog is a puppy, they should receive more calories than an adult of similar weight.
One way to ensure that you’re not leaving any nutritional needs unfulfilled is by adding a good multivitamin to your dog’s food. Deley Naturals 15 in 1 Multivitamin Chews combine 15 powerful nutrients together to support your dog’s immune system, digestion, and joint health, while keeping your dog’s eyes, skin, fur, and cognition healthy.
Watch your dog’s weight
There can definitely be too much of a good thing. While some dogs are capable of portion control, dogs in general have a reputation for being voracious eaters that stuff themselves stupid and then ask for seconds. One of the best and most effective ways to manage your dog’s health long-term is to keep them lean.
How much can weight really impact your dog’s health?
The answer is…a lot. A 14-year study found that dogs kept at lean body conditions from puppyhood onwards lived approximately 15 percent longer than the control group. The benefits didn’t stop there: they had healthier hips, stronger immune systems, and greater insulin sensitivity. Most importantly, rates of osteoarthritis went down significantly in the lean-fed dogs, and those that did develop it had less severe symptoms overall.
Get outside and exercise
Not only does exercise help your dog maintain their weight, it also lowers blood pressure, builds muscle, and strengthens the bones.
Keep in mind that walks aren’t just about physical exercise. Sniffing and exploring provide your dog with unmatched mental stimulation that alleviates boredom, reduces stress, and improves mood.
Depending on your dog’s breed and activity levels, they may need to run and jump to get their energy out. Providing them with a hip and joint supplement can protect the cartilage in their bones and prevent or delay the onset of canine osteoarthritis. If your dog is already showing signs of arthritis, a good supplement can keep them comfortable so that they can continue to move and play freely. Deley Naturals Advanced Hip & Joint Supplement contains glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, both proven to support cartilage and connective tissue development and offer relief from arthritis-related pain.
Brush your dog’s teeth
Keeping your dog’s teeth clean does a lot more than freshen their breath. Regular brushing stops food particles from getting trapped between their teeth and prevents plaque and tartar buildup.
Plaque forms naturally on your dog’s teeth after they eat something. If it isn’t removed, it eventually turns into tartar, which forms a surface that traps bacteria and provides a place for it to grow. From there, the bacteria can cause inflammation of the gums, also known as gingivitis. Over time, gingivitis can lead to periodontal disease, which is linked to tooth loss.
The bacteria attracted by tartar can also travel through your dog’s bloodstream to other organs like the heart, the liver, and the kidneys. The bacteria implicated in heart disease can be found in your dog’s mouth, leading vets to suspect that certain types of heart disease may be linked to poor dental hygiene.
In the wild, the act of chewing raw bones would scrape plaque off your dog’s teeth naturally. If you’re not in the habit of giving your dog meaty bones to chew, a dental chew or regular tooth brushing will remove buildup from your dog’s teeth and keep their mouth healthy and clean.
Take your dog to the vet annually
Finally, last but not least, annual vet visits help catch disease early on and keep your dog up-to-date on important vaccinations. As your dog ages and transitions into seniorhood, veterinarians recommend bringing them in every six months for regular blood and urine tests. Your vet may also wish to monitor your dog’s liver, kidney, and thyroid.
The annual vet visit is also a good opportunity to bring up any questions you have about your pet’s health. Common topics of concern may include: disruptions in sleep schedule, changes in poop color or consistency, or changes in appetite. Although these questions may be small, sometimes they can point to a deeper health issue that your vet may not otherwise be aware of.