10 Healthy Dog Tips for Very Happy Dogs & Cute Little Puppies
Your dog’s health and happiness go together. A sick dog is miserable and unhappiness in your dog often leads to illness. Here are some tips for keeping your dog happy and healthy.
People get bored when they are stuck in the same daily routine. The same applies to your dog. Getting out of the house for a least one walk a day is great. And varying your route is even better. When you walk your dog routinely you have the opportunity to train your pooch as well. A sedentary dog gains weight and loses muscle strength so make sure your dog gets out for at least one walk a day. But what if you’re not at home or if you have health issues that keep you from taking long walks?
Use a dog walking service and make sure to tell them to take two or three different routes during the week so that your dog doesn’t get bored with the same streets. Another advantage of a dog walking service is that they may have other dogs, and not just your pooch, on the leash which gives your dog a chance to socialize with other dogs as well as get some exercise and explore the world.
Many municipal parks offer dog running areas. You can take Rover on a leash along the street and then let him or her run with other dogs in the park. Take along a ball or stick for playing fetch as well since this game lets you rest while your pooch gets more exercise.
How to Tell if your Dog is Overweight
If your dog isn’t getting enough exercise and is eating too much he or she will become obese. Overweight dogs become sick dogs. They live shorter lives which can potentially be filled with misery. Dog health problems related to obesity include osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes, heart and respiratory disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure and cancer.
How can you tell if your dog is overweight?
Here are a couple of tips. You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs under a thin layer of fat. If you can see the ribs your dog is too skinny and if you cannot feel your dog’s ribs he or she is too fat! The same applies to the spine shoulders and hips. You should be able to feel them under a thin layer of fat and, if you can’t, you have an obese dog. When you look at your dog from the side there should be an abdominal tuck. That means the abdomen should be thinner than the rib cage. If your dog’s waist is wider than the hips or ribs he or she is massively overweight.
So, what do you do about an overweight dog? First of all, walk your dog and if you don’t have the time, utilize a dog walking service. Dogs need exercise to burn off calories. And make sure that your dog isn’t eating too much. Be careful about following the directions on the bag of dog food. Typically, dogs that eat exactly what the directions say become fat unless they are constantly active.
Exercise for Dogs
An active dog is a healthy dog and a happy dog. Make sure to walk your dog and if there’s an area where he or she can run free, go there and let Rover burn off calories and tone up those muscles. And if you’re into jogging, why not take your dog with you for a great workout for both of you. You may exercise to stay in shape for competitive sports like tennis and your dog can be a competitor too!
Flyball is a competitive sport for dogs. They race on a course jumping over four hurdles while holding a tennis ball in their mouth. The game is usually a relay with more than one dog per team. This can be a great workout and a lot of fun. And what about letting your dog express his internal bloodhound? Not all breeds are trackers but all dogs have a great sense of smell and can compete in competitive tracking events. Do you ever wonder why your dog repeatedly wants to investigate something to the side of the route that you are taking? Walk your dog after a light snowfall and you will see that he or she is following tracks and scent of birds, mice, etc. Tracking events can be a source of good, natural exercise for your dog. And, of course, fetching is a time honored way to give your dog exercise and get rid of home bound restlessness.
Parasite Prevention for Dogs
You may be doing everything right in terms of food and exercise but your dog can still get sick from fleas, ticks and mosquitoes. How can you avoid these problems and what can you do if your dog gets bitten?
How to Protect Dogs from Mosquitoes
Dogs have one advantage over humans when it comes to mosquito bites. They have a lot of fur. Nevertheless dogs, can get bitten and get sick. Staying away from mosquitoes helps. Avoid taking walks in swampy areas where mosquitoes breed. Do not use commercial insect repellants used for people.
They will make your dog sick! Use a product like K9 Advantix which you apply to the dog’s ears, nose and areas where hair is short. It lasts a month. And if you have dogs and cats, don’t let your cat groom your dog when he has this product on him or the cat will get sick!
What happens if your dog is bitten by a mosquito? The first concern is heartworm. This parasite lives in infected animal’s hearts and circulatory systems. The mosquito carries blood from an infected animal to your dog and inoculates the infection with its bite. Other mosquito born infections include West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. However, these later infections are rare while a quarter of a million dogs in North America have heartworm infections.
Heartworm Prevention for Dogs
Your dog should be tested for heartworm every year even if taking preventative medicine. Heartworm prevention is usually achieved by avoiding mosquito bites and taking medication once every month. If your dog tests positive for heartworm it can be treated but treatment is difficult, lengthy and not always successful.
How to Protect your Dog from Ticks
Tick bites are like mosquito bites in that the tick carries a disease that it transmits to your dog. The list of tick borne disease is long and includes Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis and tick paralysis.
These diseases produce symptoms in a week or two after a bite and require treatment. To prevent tick bites check your dog routinely for ticks, especially after an outing in the woods, meadows or other natural habitats. You can kill ticks on your dog with products called acaricides. Ask your vet about these. Some kill ticks on contact and others absorb into the blood stream to kill ticks that attach and feed. And, as with mosquitoes, you can use repellants to keep ticks away. The most common products are called pyrethroids. Ask your vet about these. And remind the person who walks your dog to stick to the path and not let Rover run loose through the woods and brush without checking for ticks immediately afterward.
Fleas on Dogs
Fleas on your dog are more likely to cause a rash called flea allergy dermatitis than a serve infection. But there are diseases that dogs can get from fleas. These include murine typhus, mycoplasma haemofilus, tapeworms and plague! These are also diseases that you can get from Rover if he is infected. There are topical and oral flea treatments that you can get from the vet but a more effective approach is to use a flea collar. These devices either contain a gas that repels fleas or a medication that kills fleas on contact or when they bite. Some of the ingredients in flea collars are toxic to pets if overexposed (ask your vet). So in those cases only have your pet wear the collar when romping in the woods.
Vaccination Schedule for Dogs
Has your dog had his shots? Just like your kids, your dog needs his immunizations. In the case of vaccinations an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Always make sure when you see the vet that your dog’s shots are up to date.
Here are shots that your puppy will need in the first year of life.
Recommended shots are for distemper, measles, parainfluenza, DHPP (combined vaccines for distemper, adenovirus [hepatitis], parainfluenza, and parvovirus) and rabies.
Optional vaccines are for bordetella, coronavirus, leptospirosis and Lyme disease
The law in your state may require rabies vaccination and the diseases for which shots are recommended are ones you really need to get for your dog. But how about the other, optional vaccines? Bordetella vaccination is an optional vaccination. Bordetella causes kennel cough and is highly contagious. If your dog is around other dogs and especially if it is kenneled with other dogs this vaccination is a good idea. It is given twice a year usually and can either be an injection or via a nasal vaccine. And how about when you are on the road?
When traveling state to state and especially country to country make sure to have proof of your dog’s vaccinations for rabies as well as other shots. In fact when you travel with pets it is a good idea to plan ahead and have the names, addresses and phone numbers of two or three vets in the area where you’re going.
What Foods are Dangerous for Dogs?
Dogs like treats but not all foods are good for your puppy. In fact you should only give doggie treats to your dog. Giving them human food encourages begging and makes them fat. And there are specific foods that are dangerous for your dog. Here are foods that you really need to avoid giving to your dog.
- Garlic and onions
Large amounts of onions, garlic, chives and leeks are poisonous to dogs.
- Grapes and Raisins
Grape and raisin toxicity has been well documented in dogs.
The food is safe to eat but the risk is choking on the large seed of the fruit.
- Macadamia nuts
Signs of macadamia nut poisoning include muscle tremors and paralysis.
Small amounts cause an upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea while large amounts cause muscle tremors, seizures, internal bleeding and heart attack.
- Caffeine from any source
Signs of caffeine poisoning include hyperactivity and restlessness followed by vomiting, a fast heart rate, high blood pressure, tremors, hyperthermia, seizures and collapse.
- Chemically treated water
Chlorinated water in swimming pools is dangerous if the dog doesn’t have another source of water and drinks too much. Rover will get severe abdominal pain and may have difficulty breathing.
- Artificial sweeteners
The artificial sweetener xylitol is not dangerous to people but can send a dog into hypoglycemic shock (a precipitous fall in blood pressure) and cause liver failure.
And these plants are poisonous to dogs.
- Dieffenbachia (not poisonous but caustic and makes the tongue swell, which could block the throat)
And remember to tell your dog walking service to avoid these things and only give your dog bottled water or water that you have provided.
First Aid for Dogs
What can you do immediately when your dog gets hurt or sick? What are the basics of first aid for your pooch? Here are things you want to have handy for doggie first aid.
- A box of cotton wool
- A box of sterile absorbent gauze
- Bandages – a roll of self-adhesive or crepe bandage (5cm width)
- Conforming/open-weave bandages (2.5cm width)
- Some non-adhesive absorbent dressings (5cm x 5cm) to cover open wounds
- Surgical sticky tape
- Blunt ended scissors, preferably curved
- A thick towel
- An Elizabethan collar (the cone shaped collar that keeps Rover from chewing and removing sutures after surgery
- Small bottle of hydrogen peroxide for cleaning wounds and for inducing vomiting
What do you do when your dog is hurt? Remain calm and assess the situation before responding. If the situation is dangerous to you and others, deal with that first. Then remember that an injured animal might just bite the first person, especially a stranger, who tries to help. Staying calm and deliberative is important.
It’s a good idea to have your vet’s name and phone number on your phone or in your wallet. Contact your vet as soon as practical. Have a pen and paper handy because another phone number may be given and/or the vet or his office help will often give you several steps to follow.
If your dog is upset and is at risk of biting you or others, use one of your bandages to muzzle him or use the Elizabethan collar.
Even if a well-intentioned person offers human medication never give it to your dog.
Drive to the vet with someone else holding your dog and, if someone gets bitten, be sure to seek treatment immediately.
And when should you worry?
If your dog is weak, cannot get up, has difficulty breathing, is vomiting repeatedly or seems dull and depressed you need to take him or her to a vet and not procrastinate. If your dog is bleeding put a bandage on the wound and apply pressure. If your dog seems to have broken a bone do not try to splint it. For burns, run cold water over the burn for five minutes and call the vet. If your dog may have been poisoned call the vet. Usually you want the vet’s advice before inducing vomiting but if you need to make him vomit, ipecac works as does hydrogen peroxide (2ccs will cause a dog to vomit in 15 minutes or less).
Poison Control for Dogs
The first step in poison control for dogs is to adhere to the recommendations from our “dangerous foods” section of this article and never feed human food to your dog. And if you have a dog in the house you should avoid having holly, mistletoe, amaryllis, daffodils and lilies. And avoid dieffenbachia also known as dumb cane. This plant is not poisonous but its sap is caustic and causes the tongue to swell if your dog, or child, chews on it.
And don’t give the wrong medications to your dog. Never give your dog Tylenol or ibuprofen (Advil), but buffered children’s aspirin (80mg) is safe for dogs.
And remember that dogs are very accomplished explorers so make sure that tasty but dangerous things like rat poison are on a high shelf or preferably behind a locked door.
If your pet gets into something, try to identify what it was. If it was pills find the bottle and read the label. What was the drug and how many did Rover likely ingest? If it was a commercial cleaner or other product the approach is the same. What was it and how much did Rover ingest? Remember that for a poison to hurt your dog it needs to be absorbed from the intestinal tract. So, if you suspect a problem but your dog seems OK you still need to assess the situation and watch to see if he starts getting sick.
Once you’ve determined that your dog likely ingested something harmful you need to call a pet poison help line. These folks will help you find out if your dog ingested something dangerous and whether or not you should induce vomiting.
Do not medicate your dog unless told to by a veterinarian. Many “home remedies” can be worse than the initial problem or can make it worse.
Always have the name, phone number and address of your vet or closest pet emergency facility handy and, after first contact and instructions, take your dog in to be treated.
Drinking Water for Dogs
Repeated changes in a dog’s source and quality of water is hard on them. So give your dog clean drinking water of consistent quality. This is especially important when traveling with your dog. And make sure that your dog walker only uses the water you provide or only uses acceptable water sources when out walking your dog.
Diarrhea in Dogs
Perhaps the most common cause of diarrhea in dogs when traveling is changes in the water. City water may have way too much chlorine and hardness (mineral content) can vary greatly from city to city. Bottled water is not all that expensive (less than a dollar a gallon at Walmart) and thus is available almost anywhere. If you are out camping and hiking your dog can drink from lakes and streams that don’t have a chlorine level and are basically rain water runoff so that the mineral content is low. But when you stay at a hotel it’s best to stick with bottled water. This is a good way to avoid the most common reason for doggie diarrhea when traveling. But what else causes diarrhea in your dog and how can you prevent it?
Does your dog eat grass? How about garbage or spoiled food? There is no good reason why your dog eats these things except that he is a dog. Keep Rover away from too much roughage and clean up the mess. And if the problem occurs after dog walking make sure that your dog walker is paying attention.
But what if the problem recurs? Changes in diet may be an issue or food intolerance or allergies. Pay attention to what foods precede the problem and go to your vet if the issue persists.
More serious and or persistent problems include parasites, poisonous plants, bacterial infections, viral infections and a host of system illnesses for which you need to take your dog to the vet.
GPS Microchip for Dogs
Keeping track of a wandering dog can be a chore. If you have a large, distinctive dog like a happy St. Bernard who wanders the neighborhood, the kids down the block may simply walk him home if he seems lost. But what happens if you’re traveling and you’re separated from your dog? Or what if Rover wanders off and gets hurt and cannot make his way home? Modern electronic science has an answer. It’s the Global Positioning System. A network of satellites orbiting the earth send exact details of their positions back to earth. The system is used to track airplanes and ships and even UPS delivery trucks. And now a GPS chip can track your wandering dog. You can get a GPS chip that attaches to your dog’s collar and you can get chips that are implanted under the skin. The range of these devices varies from a hundred feet or so up to much greater distances. However, the quality of these devices and systems vary. Ask a friend who has a tracking GPS chip for their dog how it works. And you might even ask for a trial in which you have someone carry the chip out of the store to see if it tracks correctly. Some systems are set up to warn you if Rover leaves the premises which is probably better than having to track him down when he has already followed a rabbit for a mile into the woods!