There’s no reason this year can’t be the year your dog gets a little healthier. Whether your pup is suffering the consequences of long-term bad habits or you simply want to stave off the effects of old age for as long as possible, there are a lot of things you can do this year to improve your dog’s health.
1. Make a Vet Appointment – An annual examination from an experienced veterinarian is – hands down – the best way to keep your dog healthy for years to come. Doubly so if it’s been over a year since your dog has been examined.
2. Consider New Food – Talk to your veterinarian about your dog’s ongoing physical issues (i.e. dry skin, occasional diarrhea) and decide together whether a specially-formulated food may help.
3. Explore Supplements – There’s a lot of evidence that over-the-counter supplements can improve common canine health issues such as achy joints or chronic ear infections.
4. Play More – Just 15 minutes of extra playtime each day can drastically improve your dog’s mental state which has a significant impact on their physical wellbeing.
5. Banish Boredom – Dogs who seem anxious or depressed are often just bored. Consider doggy daycare, lunchtime walk sessions, or even a companion animal for dogs who are home alone all day.
6. Walk the Talk – The healthiest dogs get at least 30-60 minutes of moderate exercise a day, usually in the form of walks. Add an extra walk or extend your current routine.
7. Check your Vaccinations – Not all canine vaccines need to be given every year; it’s easy to get off-schedule, so check with your vet to be sure your dog’s fully up to date. Also ask if there are any “lifestyle vaccines” your dog may be a good candidate for.
8. Get to Brushing – Daily teeth brushings can literally add years to your dog’s life. If you’re not brushing at all, start slowly. If you already are, aim for at least one brushing a day – and don’t forget the teeth-cleaning treats!
9. Wash that Stuff – Your dog’s gear can harbor billions of harmful bacteria. Regularly washing your dog’s bedding, toys, and bowls can help prevent exposure to everything from parasites to gastrointestinal viruses.
10. Teach a Trick – Yes, even to your old dog! Just like people, the healthiest dogs keep their minds “young” with constant challenges. Teach your dog a new trick or two each year to keep their synapses firing on all cylinders.
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11. Do the Diet – Half of all American dogs are overweight or obese. Is yours one of them? Losing just two to five pounds can make a huge difference in your dog’s quality of life, mobility, and even their life expectancy.
12. Clean the Eyes – Does your dog get “eye goo?” Most do. Be sure to regularly clean your dog’s eye area with a clean, moist cloth, keeping it free of gunky build up. This can help prevent everything from bacterial infections to scratched corneas.
13. Trim the Nails – Long nails aren’t just bad for your hardwood floors, they’re bad for your dog’s health. Trimming overly-long nails can keep your dog from getting in-growns, and it can even correct an arthritic gait!
14. Clear the Ears – Your dog’s ears can tell you a lot about their health. Chronically infected ears may mean your dog has food allergies; gunky, smelly ears could indicate Staph or some other kind of serious infection. Cleaning your dog’s ears weekly helps them stay healthy.
15. Express Those Glands – Did you know your dog’s anal glands can become impacted if they’re not emptying themselves fully? A dog with an itchy bottom can get an instant health boost from an expression.
16. Make Your Own Treats – Store-bought dog treats can be high in calories and low in nutrients. Making your own treats helps you control the ingredients…you may even convince your dog to eat veggies as treats!
17. Brush Fur – Daily fur brushings can ward off hot spots and dry patches by evenly distributing your dog’s natural oils across their body. The act of brushing also soothes many dogs, encouraging their bodies to release immune-supporting serotonin.
18. Elevate the Food – Some vets recommend elevated food bowls to improve dogs’ gastrointestinal function. If your dog is a fast eater or has chronic tummy troubles, an elevated food and water station may do the trick.
19. Praise More – The sound of your voice can actually cause your dog to release healthy endorphins! Loving praise and soothing rubs can do more than you think to improve your dog’s health.
20. See the Vet – Seriously, make that vet appointment. It’s time.
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