Dogs are our greatest companions, loyal to the end and we also know that we always wish the saying 1 human year = 7 dog years perhaps wasn’t quite so giving us much longer with them.
However, with the saying in mind, when you put it into a different context and say; ‘for every day you live, your dog has lived the equivalent of a full human week’ it means the health, happiness and wellbeing is never far from our minds on behalf of our canine friends.
Courtesy of DogMagazine.net, we bring you 50 great hints and tips to keep your dog in top-shape and hopefully keep their tails wagging for many a year to come…
1. Feeding raw, fresh foods on occasion can really invigorate your dog’s diet. Commercial pet foods have come along way but, like us, dogs benefit and thrive on variety.
2. Believe it or not, all supplied pet food should be fit for human consumption therefore you should look out for food which may contain unwanted by-products. By-products include intestines, which carry diseases.
3. Garlic occasionally given in your dog’s diet can improve heart condition and has some other healthy side-effects. Don’t be fooled into thinking this herb is a cure-all though. Garlic does have some very beneficial effects on health but, contrary to some opinion, it will not remove worms if your dog is infected. Instead, go to your vet and he or she will more than likely supply you with a pharmaceutical solution, which will clear your dog of worms.
4. Valerian Root is wonderful for animals that are stressed or hyperactive. This herb is naturally found in pastures and animals love it.
5. Tooth decay and diseased gums produce bacteria that get into the animal’s bloodstream. It can result in problems to any of their organs but in particular, the valves in the animal’s heart can be damaged. Kidneys are also very vulnerable and this could be one of the major killers of older dogs. Don’t use human toothpaste but entice your pet with the beef or chicken flavoured varies because you need to keep your dog’s teeth clean for more reasons than ‘the dog-breath issue’
6. I would never have thought of applying sunscreen to a dog, but pale or white dogs are very susceptible to skin cancer. A quick smear of sunscreen on the vulnerable areas; tips of ears and nose, could be a very simple way of saving your animal’s life.
7. The health of a dog is based on a lot of factors including genetics, exercise, and regular checkups, to name a few. But the number one factor affecting the health of a dog is the kind of food that it consumes. There are many types of commercial dog foods and diets on the market today, from BARF (bones and raw food), to steam-extruded products. Get to know your pet food labels, read the label and avoid products with chemicals and unnatural additives. You will likely avoid allergic reactions and skin problems in your dog.
8. Health begins in the kitchen. I believe the single most important thing you can do, after loving them, is to feed your companion animals fresh, wholesome, human grade, preservative free foods daily. Feeding companion animals an all natural diet will, most certainly, improve their overall health and increase their longevity.
9. Dogs like to play all types of games and have loads of energy to burn off. It’s important though that your dog learns to calm down and “chill out” as much as how to burn off energy. Otherwise they get stressed with the constant anticipation and over excitement. So, teach your dog the equivalent to sitting down and having a cup of tea by putting a command on quiet and relaxing times.
10. A fit dog lives longer. Obesity amongst pet dogs is a growing problem. If a dog is overweight it puts extra strain on various parts of the body and may well shorten the dog’s life.
11. Dogs kept in a one dog family with perhaps older owners seem to age more than dogs in two dog
households and/or younger owners. To keep your dog mentally active try to involve your dog in training or agility classes or, if your dog loves people and is of a calm disposition, apply for him to be a PAT (Pets
As Therapy) dog so he can visit people in hospital.
12. Chewing a long lasting bone or non-chemical dog chew is an excellent way for a dog to burn calories, keep teeth healthy and, very importantly, keeps the dog happy and occupied.
13. Groom your dog regularly. At least once a week with a good ‘massaging’ rubber dog brush. This will help stimulate circulation and manipulates weary muscles.
14. Toys are a great way to entertain a young dog. As your dog gets older you may find their choice or even desire to play with toys declines. If this is the case, look for new products that come on to the market which are likely to appeal to your dog’s personal sense of fun, whether it be tugging toys, hollowed out toys in which food can be placed or funny-noise making toys. Dogs love toys, you might just have to shop around to discover exactly which ones your dog likes as they grow up.
15. Happiness – make your dog happy! It sounds so simple but with a ‘holistic’ viewpoint on health means a happy, active, joyous mind will have positive effects on the physical well-being. Scientifically proven. So you can either take your dog to see Cannon & Ball in concert at Blackpool Pier or play with them several times a day, whichever they’d prefer.
16. Glucosamine – a tablet or two a day (depending on how big the dog is). This will help the cartilage develop and could help stave off arthritis and other problems.
17. Keep teeth healthy with regular chewing of a good chunky bone at least once a week. Knuckle bones are ideal, most pet shops will sell bones that are suitable for dogs – beware of bones that could splinter or cause choking. Marrow is good for dogs and there are few dogs who don’t enjoy gnawing down on a solid bone once in a while. Be careful where they bury their bones though, beautifully maintained flower beds are not appreciated as much by a bone carrying dog as the keen gardener who created them!
18. A good bed – sleep is undervalued by people if not by dogs. Somewhere warm and comfortable and out of draughts – even if it is your sofa – a dog knows the benefits of sleep so make sure they have somewhere ultra-comfy, warm and dry to enjoy this most beneficial of canine pastimes.
19. Training – not only will regular dog training sessions keep a dog’s mind active, it will improve your relationship with them. No dog is ever too old to enjoy being challenged. Find out what your dog enjoys and work with it. Play and training should be pretty much one and the same thing if you are doing it right.
20. Water – free and unrestricted access to water – clean water should ALWAYS be available. Some people have, in the past, suggested that water should/could be given at regular intervals and water in-take monitored – this is universally regarded as incorrect now. Clean, fresh drinking water should be on-hand whenever the dog needs it. Monitor if you think your dog is drinking excessively and speak to a vet.
21. A natural diet can do wonders according to Jacki Bunn, HNC Canine Behaviour and Training. Plain and simple foods such as chicken and rice and vegetables, with as few additives as possible. It’s true for you so it’s equally applicable to your dog.
22. Mental stimulation through training can greatly reduce the symptoms of dementia in old age. Although it may not seem obvious to go back to basics with a dog who’s been there, seen it and eaten the t-shirt, regular training exercises with adult dogs can do them a power of good.
23. Too much stress in the home can affect the dogs’ health as much as any other family member. Keep stress in the household to a minimum or make sure you have your domestic disputes outside the earshot of Fido.
24. Be choosy about treats. If your dog is overweight take some food from his daily ration add a clove of garlic and keep in a little pot.
25. Regularly check you dog for lumps and bumps. Cancer is a big killer in dogs the same as it is in humans. If any unusual lumps are found don’t be afraid to take your dog to the vet to have them properly looked at. Early detection of cancer is key to successful treatment so don’t worry about appearing over concerned when you find something on your dog’s body which wasn’t there before.
26. Teeth which are not used are not cleaned and consequently plaque accumulates. Poor teeth and gums can be prone to more serious diseases. If your dog, like many, is one of a growing group of pets who is only ever exposed to commercial pet food, treats and snacks etc, then their oral health could be at risk. Bones, chews and toys will put your dog’s teeth to good use.
27. Supply raw chicken wings, chicken necks or ox tail to young/small puppies when they most want to chew and explore. This will reduce the risk of gingivitis, which lasts into old age and makes eating too painful.
28. Use Arnica at times of stress. This homeopathic remedy called Arnica Montana to be given orally at a dose rate of 30C – three doses every four hours for two days. Arnica Montana is very well known. It is often used for some kind of trauma, emotional or physical. It is good for muscle aches, sprains, strains, and injuries. Arnica is given to patients prior to coming to the surgery for examination or operation. The vet must be told of any drugs your dog has had. The Arnica will produce a calmer dog that settles quickly and is less anxious. Especially good for highly strung dogs.
29. Spaying and neutering can prevent testicular tumours amongst male dogs and a series of health problems in females. The procedure can also reduce a dog’s desire to roam. Castration is not a behavioural cure-all. If you don’t intend to breed from your dog then consider this option on medical grounds. Poor behaviour should be addressed by a suitably qualified dog trainer or behavioural expert not the surgeon’s knife.
30. Stop your dog becoming over-weight by feeding raw chunks of carrot instead of fattening treats. Dogs seem to love the crunchiness and raw carrot is not only healthy, it keeps their teeth clean – an ideal reward/treat.
31. D.A.P diffuser will reduce levels of stress which will help your dog live longer. DAP stands for Dog Appeasing Pheromone. Pheromones are natural chemical messengers which bitches with puppies produce from the mammary glands. These pheromones re-assure the pups that the breast area is a safe area. Pheromones are released into the dog’s environment via a plug-in diffuser. It does have an obvious calming effect and is good to use at times of stress i.e. house move or if you leave an anxious dog home alone. They are available through Vets.
32. Secure your home against dog escape. It sounds obvious but no matter how secure you think your garden might be, until it’s been put to the test by a truly determined escape-minded animal, it could always be more secure. Consider an extra set of gates if possible whereby a dog would have to escape through two sets of gates rather than one, which could lead directly to freedom if they are left open by mistake. Consider high fencing. Again, until the day arrives when your garden security is actually put to the test by the dog, you may never know how safe it is – really study your garden and ask some searching questions; “Could he clear that wall if he really wanted to?”, “Could she dig her way under that fence if she was absolutely determined to?” – remember, one escape could be the last time you ever see your dog.
33. An eggshell contains lots of calcium and if given in a dog’s food once in a while can provide a crunchy little extra that will do the dog some good. Eggs themselves contain protein which is essential to maintain a healthy immune system, essential fatty acids for hormonal, skin, kidney, heart, liver, reproductive, coat and brain health. They also they contain vital anti-oxidants, which help protect the eye and reduce the effects of ageing. Use very occasionally amongst older dogs, more frequently with a puppy’s diet but remember – they can cause laxative like effects.
34. Be alert when it comes to your dog’s health. Some conditions, such as gastric torsion can take fatal effects within hours. If your dog is behaving oddly, take the ‘better to be safe than sorry’ approach and call the vet.
35.Use Vaseline to help maintain healthy pads and noses. In the winter and summer dog’s noses and pads can become dry hard and cracked. (Just like ours) Vaseline moisturises and cares for keratinised areas really well.
36. Dogs will eat grass if they feel nauseous – the grass makes them sick then they feel better. Some dogs eat grass anyway even when they feel well – it does them no harm but excessive grass consumption could be a warning that your dog may have a gastro-intestinal upset.
37. Insure your pet. Simple. Do your research on policies by all means but don’t consider insurance as an option. Unless you don’t think your dog is worth more to you than your car, you should insure every year, without fail.
38. Tailor your dog’s exercise regime to his age. An old dog will not benefit from too much exercise, in fact when winter comes, old dogs will benefit from having a little extra bulk on them.
39. Learn as much as you can about the dog you own. Whether you own a Pedigree Poodle or a rescued ‘bits n pieces’ dog. Learn what you can about the breed, learn what you can about parents (if possible), learn what you can about known health problems within the breed, known health problems within the family line and so on. A little acquired knowledge and the dog you share your life with can go a long way to you having a happier co-existence.
40. Surveys show that about 50% of dogs get lost every year. Most are quickly found but over 100,000 end up in stray pounds. Many cannot be returned to their owners as there is no identification on the dog. Permanent identification with a microchip allows dog wardens to find a stray dog’s owner quickly and is an essential supplement to the legal minimum of a collar and tag. –
41. Bones can harbour harmful bacteria, always boil any bones before you give them to your dog to chew on.
42. Plastic feeding bowls are more difficult to clean thoroughly. Bacteria can remain and cause the dog to become ill. Food odours can remain on the plastic for longer, if you have a fussy dog, the lingering smell of decaying food stuffs can cause him to be even fussier.
43. Antifreeze has a very tempting smell for dogs. Be mindful during the winter months of areas where it may have leaked onto the ground. Your dog may lick it and the effects of the substance can be fatal.
44. Never feed a dog chocolate. It contains theobromine, which is a potentially fatal toxin to dogs and is also high in sugar. There are plenty of chocolate alternatives.
45. Many dog owners make the mistake of giving commands in long sentences that only another
human being would understand. You get certain inflections in the dog’s bark or whine, but only another dog understands “dog talk.” Why should you expect your dog to understand all the words you use? True, your pet will love to hear you talk. Still, it is your tone that reaches and pleases him. Make sure commands are short and sharp, like ”sit” and ”down”.
46. A spot of rubbing alcohol on the paw pads is an excellent way to cool down an over exerted dog.
47. Nails must be kept short for a dog’s paws to remain healthy. Long nails can affect a dog’s gait, which can lead to hip problems. Regular walks on concrete usually keep nails in trim naturally. If you dog’s nails do become over-grown, a trip to the vets or dog groomers for a quick trim could also be the ideal time for a general K9-MOT/Health Check!
48. If you are going to trim your dog’s nails yourself, always use a specialist clipper as they have a device which prevents trimming above the ‘quick’, which is where the blood vessels are located. Never use normal household scissors for this job. If you do accidentally cut to the quick, Styptic powder is useful as it helps to stem the bleeding.
49. As a guide to nail length, if you can hear the nails clicking on the floor they are too long.
50. If you lead a busy life with little or no spare time – make sure your dog doesn’t suffer. It might sound daft but here is a great tip for professionals or people with hectic schedules – enter times each week called ‘dog time’ time that you must spend playing, fussing or relaxing with your dog. You are lucky that a dog will work to your schedule so whatever you do, don’t leave them off it all together.
Let us know your own top tips and stay tuned for the next post in our series of dog dental care expert advice.
>> Worth a look: Find out more about Dog Insurance and protect your dog’s health today!