10 Ways to Give Your Dog a Longer, Healthier Life

Dogs aren't called 'man's best friend' for no reason. Any dog owner can attest to how much love and affection dogs offer, and it's only fair that we give them just as much love in return. Thankfully, helping your beloved pet stay healthy and happy is easier than you might realize. 

Here are ten quick tips to help give your dog a longer, healthier life. 

1. Spaying/Neutering 

Male dogs have a tendency to try and escape to find companions or climb onto inanimate object - or their owners - to mate. Neutering eliminates that and other aggressive, territorial behavior that crops up around mating season. For females, spaying means they won't 'go into heat,' which entails a lot of yowling and urination.  Dogs that are spayed or neutered are also less likely to develop diseases like breast/testicular cancer, pyometra, hernias, and uterine/prostate infections.  The average age for spaying/neutering dogs is between 6-9 months of age. 

2. Vaccination 

Like humans, puppies receive natural antibodies from their mother's milk as they nurse. However, these antibodies only last about three months, and then your pet is vulnerable to all sorts of diseases. Talk to your vet about a vaccination schedule to keep your dog safe from rabies, Lyme disease, parvovirus, and other dangerous infections. 

3.Visit the Vet Regularly 

Remember those checkups you used to get for school? Your dog benefits from annual checkups too. Even if your pet seems fine, veterinarians can identify infections that might be in the early, symptom-free stages. They also evaluate your dog's diet, exercise schedule, and behaviors to make sure they stay as healthy as possible. A lot of pet stores have low-cost clinics if you have a small budget.

4. Declare War on Fleas and Ticks 

If your dog has fleas and/or ticks, act fast and act hard. Your pet may just seem a little itchy, but fleas carry diseases and parasites like tapeworms, and ticks can be even worse. Plus, these little pests can jump to your other pets or infest your house! 

Fortunately, pet stores are full of anti-flea and tick-prevention products with everything from special collars to monthly chews. Talk to your vet about the best defense for your dog and be prepared to treat all your pets during the warm months. 

5. Be Proactive with Heartworm 

Heartworm is one of the most dangerous diseases for dogs. The parasitic larvae are carried by mosquitos and are extremely difficult to treat once your pet is infected.

6. Exercise Daily 

Exercise is as important for dogs as it is for humans when it comes to controlling their weight, muscle strength, and overall health. The mental stimulation and energy expenditure of regular exercise also means your dog is less likely to engage in restless destructive behavior. Plus, it's a wonderful opportunity for you to bond with your pet and get in shape yourself.  Talk to your vet to learn what exercise is appropriate for your dog's weight, health, and age. 

7. Watch Their Weight 

Too much food and/or too little exercise leads to weight gain in dogs just as it does humans, and like humans, overweight dogs are subject to health issues like liver and coronary disease. However, unlike humans, dogs rely on their owners for their diet, so it's up to you to watch their weight and determine if they need lower-calorie food or more exercise. Talk to your vet if you have questions. 

8. Weekly Health Checks 

Once a week, take a few minutes to look over your dog. Check their skin for signs of flaking or swelling, their ears and eyes for redness or discharge, and their diet for changes in their eating/drinking habits. If you notice any significant changes, talk to your vet to get things sorted out quickly. 

9. Stay Away from Dangerous Food 

We all know chocolate is dangerous for dogs, but did you know that bacon, cheese, or even certain raw meats are dangerous as well? Don't let those puppy-dog eyes break you. It's for their own good, and you won't have to clean up their sick later.

10. Brush Those Teeth! 

Doggie breath is a thing all pet owners deal with, but be careful - bad breath can be a sign of tooth disease or decay caused by bacteria buildup, and if left untreated, infections can enter the bloodstream and your pet's whole body could be at risk. Inspect your dog's mouth regularly and talk to your vet about the best way to keep their teeth clean.


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