Dogs tend to make people happier and healthier. There’s ample research that proves as much. But as pet owners, we have to consider whether we’re helping our dogs stay happy and healthy.
How to Keep Your Dog Happy and Healthy
Our dogs aren’t as different from us as we think. Yes, they poop in the grass, lick their paws, and bark at the mailman, but there are more similarities to us than we realize. At their core, they have feelings and needs. They want to be happy and healthy. The problem is that we don’t always help them in their pursuit. By resetting your focus, you can give your dog every chance to thrive.
In light of this, here are a few tips you can put into action:
1. Feed Healthy Food
A healthy dog is a happy dog and a happy dog is a healthy dog. Ensure your pup is living his best life by providing high-quality food with fresh ingredients and minimal filler. A good diet will improve digestion, provide healthier skin, increase energy, and limit the risk of diseases and chronic health issues.
How do you find healthy food? Carefully read the ingredient label on the package and look to see where the meat is listed on the label. If it’s tucked away in the middle or at the end of the list and just says “meat,” don’t buy it. The closer it is to the beginning of the label, the better. And it should list an actual title, like “chicken.”
Avoid dog food that has grains as the top ingredient and/or includes lots of food preservatives, added chemicals, and synthetic colors.
Unsure of what type of food to buy for your specific breed or where to find it? Your veterinarian can point you in the right direction.
2. Provide the Right Supplements
Your dog won’t get all of the nutrition it needs in a bag of dog food. So it’s important that you also provide the right supplements and treats. In particular, focus on omega 3 fatty acids for your dog.
Omega 3 fatty acids help condition your dog’s skin, reduce shedding and dandruff, produce a shinier coat, limit ear infections, reduce scratching and hot spots, increase immunity, strengthen nails, promote better mental health, help reduce weight gain, and improve overall health.
3. Exercise Daily
You might get away with not exercising all week, but your dog can’t live like this. It’s bad for his physical and mental health. Make sure you’re encouraging daily exercise – and preferably multiple times per day. Options include:
- Take a walk around your neighborhood – making sure to try different paths to mix things up for your furry friend.
- Play fetch in the backyard. (Bonus: You can sit down and relax.)
- Take your dog to a nearby lake and let him swim until he tires out.
- Go to a dog park and allow your dog to play fetch, run up and down ramps, etc.
While it depends on the dog’s breed, size, age, and personality, you should aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon.
4. Socialize Daily
Your dog needs socialization on a daily basis. Ideally, this means a combination of human socialization and dog socialization. Whatever you do, don’t leave your dog home alone all day. You can get away with this every now and then, but if it becomes a regular habit, your dog could become anxious, lonely, and depressed.
5. Get Regular Wellness Checkups
It’s not enough to visit the vet when your dog needs new heartworm pills or shots. Consider scheduling a wellness checkup once per calendar year. This helps identify major health issues earlier and limits the chances of a serious condition going unnoticed for a long period of time.
6. Groom Properly
Every dog has a very specific coat with very specific needs. Think twice before grabbing a set of clippers and shaving your shaggy dog. You could permanently damage their coat. (For example, golden retrievers shouldn’t be given puppy cuts. You might think you’re helping them cool down, but you’re actually just exposing more of their skin to the sun and heat.) For proper grooming, take your dog to a pet groomer.
7. Stand Up for Your Dog!
Your dog wants to be happy and healthy, but it can’t speak up for itself. It’s up to you, as the owner, to proactively identify their wants and needs and provide a healthy and supportive environment that enables them to live well. The hope is that this article provides you with a combination of motivation and insights so that you can act swiftly. Will you follow through?