10 must-dos for a healthy dog:
1. Annual wellness vet check
Dogs age much faster than we do – at around one year for every seven human years. Veterinary health checks are strongly recommended every six months to identify any health issues for your dog’s wellbeing. Preventative health measures are the best way to ensure your dog maintains great health into their senior years.
During this visit, your vet will carry out a thorough physical examination to check for any pre-existing or developing conditions. Our Animates Vetcare teams are skilled in understanding and addressing any concerns you have, such as teeth, weight, behaviour, skin, or any other issues that your beloved dog may have.
2. Feed a complete and balanced diet
Feeding your dog a complete and balanced diet is one of the most important things you can do for their health. For optimal health, we recommend feeding your dog a complete nutritional diet. Superior Nutrition dog food provides your dog with a complete, balanced, and scientifically formulated diet to support the needs of various breeds of dogs at different stages of life, and should be used as your dog’s everyday diet. This means your dog will get all the nutrition they need and in the right proportion at every meal (when following the feeding guidelines on the packaging).
3. Exercise your dog regularly
From helping your dog maintain a healthy weight, reducing weight-related stress on their joints, to meeting their mental health needs and much more – keeping your dog active (at least 30 mins per day) is very important for their overall health and happiness!
Note: The amount of exercise your dog requires depends on their age, health, and breed. Daily exercise may not be recommended for some senior dogs & pets with particular health issues, so check with your vet first if unsure. If you have any concerns or queries about your dog’s health & fitness level, book an appointment at your local Animates Vetcare clinic for tailored advice.
4. Monitor your dog’s weight
To understand if your dog has a healthy weight, take it to your vet who will review their current weight and provide guidance for optimal health.
Based on their weight recommendations, then you can then make any adjustments your dog requires - whether it’s a food portion or diet change, a treat change, or changing their daily exercise regime for improved health.
5. Spay or neuter your dog
One of the best ways to maintain your dog’s good health is to have him or her desexed. These procedures prevent many illnesses and conditions related to a dog’s reproductive organs as well as help to eliminate many unwanted behaviours. They also prevent unwanted litters and help to reduce animal overpopulation.
6. Keep an eye on physical or behavioural changes
Since our furry friend’s can’t tell us when they’re feeling unwell, it’s important to keep an eye on any behavioural or physical changes like lumps and bumps, coat condition, appetite, behaviours and more. These changes can indicate an underlying health issue that needs veterinary attention.
7. Recognise the need for diet changes as your dog ages
A dog’s life stage is one of the most important considerations when choosing a dog food.
- In the early stages of life, puppies need higher levels of protein, vitamins, minerals (especially calcium) and sufficient calories to help their bodies grow.
- During adulthood, dogs require the right blend of nutrients appropriate for their life stage. i.e. puppy food has the incorrect balance of calories and nutrients for adult dogs, which may cause weight gain.
- As your dog enters their senior years, their activity levels decrease and nutrient requirements change - they require more fibre for their digestive tract to remain healthy & function well. Senior dog food has an appropriate balance of nutrients for a senior dogs’ lifestage, including those that support their joint function and metabolism.
8. Parasite prevention
It’s hard for your dog to enjoy life when they’re scratching at fleas! While the fleas and ticks you find in their fur create a world of mental and physical discomfort for your dog, prevention for internal parasites, like worms, is equally as important to their health and happiness.
With parasite control, taking a proactive prevention approach is the best way to keep your dog flea-free. If your pet already has fleas, you’ll need to treat your pets and home to eradicate all stages of the flea lifecycle. Chat to your local Animates Vetcare about the right product for your dog.
9. Keep your dog’s vaccinations up to date
Regular vaccinations for pets is essential to protect them from contagious and preventable diseases. Some of these diseases can be fatal and many don’t have a cure, so vaccinating your dog is very important to keep them safe and healthy.
At your dog’s annual exam, your vet will review any necessary booster shots and updates to your dog’s vaccination schedule.
10. Polish those pearly whites
Believe it or not, taking care of your dog’s dental health is just as important as looking after your own! Proper dental care for pets is critical to your pet’s overall health and wellbeing. Dental disease, if left untreated or detected, can cause tooth abscesses and bacteria which can result in heart, liver, and kidney health problems that impact quality of life and longevity.
During your dog’s annual vet check-up, our vets will carry out a thorough examination of your dog’s mouth, teeth, and gums to determine if there are any signs of gingivitis, plaque build-up or infection. This examination will identify if your dog requires a professional dental scale and polish, or some simple at-home preventive measures to maintain healthy teeth and gums.
11. Lock up household hazards
From electrical cords to rubber bands to plants, there are hazards lurking all over your house. In general, keep all potentially dangerous items out of your dog’s reach, and safely store lotions, soaps, cleaners, and chemicals. If you think your dog has swallowed a non-food item, call your veterinarian immediately.
12. The scoop on poop
Your dog’s poop is a great indicator of their current well-being - including whether they’re being fed the right diet. If your dog’s toilet habits change (urinating more frequently or inappropriately) or if you notice a change in the appearance or odour of your dog’s poop, take your dog to the vet as soon as possible.
Note: A healthy dog will poop around 1-3 times a day. Food with a higher fibre content passes through your dog’s system more easily, resulting in more frequent poos. If your dog has not pooped in 24 hours or is pooping more than 3 times a day, it’s best to contact your vet as they may be dehydrated, constipated or have another issue that needs to be checked.
13. Regular grooming
Every dog needs grooming. A healthy, clean coat is often the indication of a healthy, happy dog – indeed, a lack of grooming can even lead to health problems over time. Grooming should therefore be a routine part of the health care of your dog.
There are five routine grooming habits you can do at home to help maintain your dog’s health, including:
- Regularly brushing their coat
- Washing your dog
- Cleaning their ears
- Trimming their nails
- Clean tear stains around their eyes
Taking the time to groom your dog at home in between visits to one of our Animates Grooming salon will help keep them healthy, tidy and clean.
Did you know different breeds have different grooming needs? Visit our How to groom different dog coat types article to find the recommended products and grooming techniques for your dog’s breed.
14. Anal sac expression
Is your dog scooting across the floor on his behind? Or just seems to be sitting uncomfortably? It might be a sign that your dog needs their anal sacs expressed. Sometimes a dog’s anal sacs fill with fluid and they need help releasing it. Our Animates Vetcare Vets can perform the expression for your pup to help eliminate their discomfort hygienically.
15. Keep human food out of reach
Dogs can be great opportunists when it comes to getting their paws on tasty treats, but not all everyday food and drink are safe for them. Here are some of the most common household foods your pets should never get their paws on:
- Onions & garlic (cooked and raw)
- Grapes and raisins
- Caffeinated drinks
- Xylitol (in sugar-free drinks, certain spreads and sweeteners)
- Mouldy food
- Dough or raw bread
If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please contact your vet clinic right away.