Dog and Puppy Health: It Pays to be Proactive
Dog health care and the various problems that can befall these furry friends of man are wide topics with multiple layers to them. Senior dog health problems, for instance, may not always be the same as the more common issues associated with younger dogs, and caring for these pets can thus require different approaches. Dog health problems and symptoms can vary in severity but also in nature. Just like people, dogs can suffer both from physical and mental ailments. Luckily, most common dog health problems, whether mental or physical, can be avoided if you put in the effort and take the right steps.
We will acquaint ourselves with the basic steps and measures that every responsible dog owner can and should implement in order to ensure that their pooch lives life to the healthy fullest.
The Basics of a Healthy Dog Lifestyle
Depending on how one looks at the issue, probably the most holistic and natural health care for dogs is simply catering to his few, but crucial natural needs. Of course, we are not talking about food and water here – that much is a given. What is at hand is the almost as important needs most dogs have, which are sometimes overlooked or not taken seriously enough.
- While this may be a somewhat breed-specific issue, it’s worth noting that many dogs have a need for exercise and playtime on a regular basis. It is, of course, your responsibility to get informed about the specific requirements of your pet’s particular breed, but almost all dogs will require at least some daily activity and exercise. Just taking your dog out for a ten-minute walk once a day usually won’t suffice.
- The best dog exercise is going outdoors for a hike or visiting a dog park, if your pet is friendly. Of course, playing with your dog outside with a game of fetch or tug-of-war is always healthy and beneficial, especially if your dog’s breed is one that naturally likes such activities. Toys specifically designed to go along with this are also a good idea.
Apart from just preventing issues like obesity, diabetes, and other ills, exercise provides essential mental stimulus. It is absolutely paramount that you mentally stimulate your dog if you are to avoid numerous potential problems, such as boredom and the destructiveness and frustration that are caused by it.
A great portion of behavior problems can be traced back directly to a lack of stimulation and fulfillment in a dog’s life. This is especially the case with highly intelligent and competent breeds of working dogs, such as Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds. These dogs need a purpose and they must have their wits utilized. Otherwise, they can become a real problem.
In that regard, you would always do well to think up your own brain-stimulating games to play with your dog. There are many interesting toys on the market that can help you with this too, such as the puzzles designed by Nina Ottosson. This is a well-established brand of quality puzzles that make excellent dog brain game toys that can challenge even the smartest pooch while still remaining perfectly solvable and engaging.
Finally, perhaps the best and surest way of having a content, well-balanced dog is to train it in a task that his particular breed was bred to fulfill. Dogs are at their happiest when they are working toward a goal and when they can feel that they are on a mission for their owner.
Needless to say, another building block of good dog health care is maintaining hygiene and keeping your pet clean and groomed. These are the most essential aspects of this part of doggie life and how to deal with them.
How to Clean a Dog’s Ears
This is a simple enough process that is more important for some dogs than others, but it is universally beneficial. Apart from the various ear cleaning products for dogs on the market, you can also use your own solutions.
- A common approach is a combination of half a teaspoon of boric acid, a few drops of alcohol, and around two ounces of white vinegar, applied to a piece of cotton or bathroom tissue.
- Wipe the inside of your dog’s ear with this solution and then once more with nothing but water. It’s particularly important to clean a dog’s ears after a swim or extensive outdoor activity.
How to Clean a Dog’s Eyes
First and foremost, if your dog has an eye infection, then that is a job for a veterinarian. If you simply want to tidy your pooch up and remove nasty eye discharge, there isn’t much to it.
- You should either use a marketed, natural solution or clean, tepid water applied to a piece of fine cloth. Cotton balls may not be ideal here, as they can leave bits in your dog’s eye.
- Either way, you should make sure you are gentle when cleaning a dog’s eye and that everything you use is as clean as possible.
How to Clean a Dog’s Teeth
This is an aspect of hygiene both you and your dog can participate in. As far as your role in the process is concerned, make sure that you use a dog toothbrush and, if you wish to use paste, never apply human toothpaste as it can be poisonous to your dog. There are special toothpastes available for your dog.
Cleaning the outward-facing sides of teeth and gums will suffice but pay special attention to the canines and upper molars while brushing with gentle pressure and motion.
Provide your dog either with durable, high-quality chew toys or tough but natural treats that it can chew on a regular basis. Dogs chew on things as a natural way of exercising their jaws and maintaining oral hygiene by suppressing plaque and tartar buildup.
How to Trim a Dog’s Nails
The need for nail trimming is a side effect of modern living because if dogs spend a lot of time outside, running on rough terrain, digging, and clawing, the nails will stay short on their own. Otherwise, the nails will grow too long, and, as a general rule of thumb, you can tell they need to be cut if you can hear them scraping on the floor when your dog moves around.
In essence, it’s a simple process, but you do need to be careful not to cut too far and into the so-called “quick”. Unless your dog’s nails are black or really dark, you should be able to identify this as a pink area not far from the tip of your pet’s nail.
Your pooch won’t die if you accidentally quick his nail, but there will be quite a bit of bleeding and pain, which is never pleasant. For this reason, you are perhaps better off using a grinding trimmer instead of clippers, as it allows more room to test the waters. However, if you do decide to use clippers, make sure to purchase styptic powder in advance to help stop any bleeding when cutting too far into the “quick”.
Generally, it’s preferable to get a dog used to trimming from an early age because most dogs won’t like the process. After a few successful attempts with no blood involved, you will be able to remember how far you can go and stay safe.
Trim away only small bits of the nail for the first few times and make sure they are definitely too long and need trimming in the first place. You can always request that your veterinarian trim the nails.
How to Brush a Dog’s Coat
Depending on your particular dog’s fur, you may need tools such as brushes, combs, and undercoat rakes. It’s important to go through all layers of the fur as many dogs have two layers of fur. In that respect, an effective method is to brush the hair against its natural flow and then comb or brush it back into place. Be very gentle around your dog’s belly and ears and pay special attention to your dog’s particularly thick hair around the neck and shoulders, if he has it. Such areas are usually very long and wavy, which necessitates a comb or rake if you are to even reach the skin.