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Canine Health: How to Keep Your Dog Happy and Healthy

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You may not be surprised to find out that one of the most important things you can do to maintain canine health is to help your dog stay at a healthy weight for his breed and size. Obesity in a dog is not adorable or desirable; it will shorten your pet’s lifespan and could lead to the same serious health complications that obese humans face.

Canine Obesity

You can do a simple visual and touch test at home to see if your dog is overweight. Look to make sure there is an indention at the dog’s waist, and make sure you can feel the ribs easily. Dogs who are overweight won’t show a waistline and will have a layer of fat over the ribs that makes them difficult to feel.

If you suspect your dog is above his ideal weight, take him to the veterinarian for a complete exam. The doctor will most likely check his thyroid function. Malfunctioning thyroid or adrenal glands can affect your pet’s health and weight. Most of the time obesity is caused by over-eating and inactivity, but there are some health conditions that will be ruled out during your visit.

Dietary Considerations

If no underlying health conditions are affecting your dog’s weight, take a closer look at what and how much he is eating. There are some foods that are of low quality and do not contain the proper nutrients for canine health. The vet will likely recommend a high quality food in the proper quantities to help you maintain his weight. Some of the high quality foods come at a higher price, but you’ll find it’s worth the money to keep your dog in good shape.

If you and your vet do decide to change your pet’s food for health reasons, you’ll want to make the switch gradually over a seven day period. Sudden changes in diet can cause stomach upset, vomiting and diarrhea. Be sure to follow your veterinarian’s advice every step of the way. Remember to never feed table scraps to your dog, and to cut down or eliminate treats if your dog’s weight is not under control.

Exercise

Canine health and human health both depend on a good deal of exercise. An hour a day is a good goal to have, and you can break this up into two thirty minute walks or runs in the park. If you have an hour, take him out to play fetch, romp with other dogs or take a walk with your friends or neighbors that also have dogs. If you have children, encourage them to play with your dog, too. They’ll both enjoy fetch, Frisbee or simply chasing each other in the back yard. In that way you can maintain your dog’s health as well as your family’s health.

Regular Veterinary Check Ups

Of course, keep up with routine vet visits, exams and vaccinations. Preventative flea and heartworm medication is an absolute must. Any changes in your dog’s behavior should be followed up on; persistent changes such as lethargy, limping or lack of appetite are all reasons to go see your veterinarian for a thorough check up.

Making sure your pet gets the proper nutrition and has an active lifestyle from the start is much easier than coping with disease or obesity. A little prevention, exercise and healthy living go a long way toward canine health and longevity.

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