Ways to Keep Your Dog Healthy:by Wendy Rose Gould, Demand Media
Accepting the rewarding role of pet guardian brings with it many responsibilities. "Most people don't realize how life can change when your dog becomes ill," said Nikki Moustaki, dog trainer and pet expert. Stay on top of your pup's health and address medical issues as they arise.
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Dental issues can lead to other health problems, so make sure your dog's teeth are in good shape. "Have a professional dental cleaning every two or three years," suggested Moustaki. She also suggested using an over-the-counter doggy toothbrush and dog-specific toothpaste to keep your dog's teeth healthy between professional cleanings.
Choose Appropriate Food
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Select age-appropriate grub for your dog and make sure he's getting a healthy, balanced diet. "Feeding a dog a combination of a premium dog food, some cooked food, healthy table scraps -- and even some raw foods -- on a regular basis can alleviate allergies, sensitivities to preservatives and other ailments," said Moustaki.
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Get up and get moving with your pooch, and you'll both reap the rewards. Dr. Jules Benson, veterinarian and vice president of Veterinary Services at PetPlan Insurance, said that exercise is a mandatory part of pet care. "Like humans, when dogs are in good shape, they have fewer health problems and feel better overall."
Annual Vet Visit
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Schedule a yearly checkup appointment at your vet as a form of preventative care, advised Moustaki. This gives the veterinarian a chance to look at and feel your canine companion to make sure her health is in order. If there are any health issues, you're also more likely to catch them before they become too serious.
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"Spaying and neutering not only help control the dog population, but it can also help your pet avoid certain health problems," explained Benson. He said that spaying can reduce their chances of developing malignant mammary, ovarian and uterine cancers. Neutering reduces the risk for testicular cancer and limits the development of prostate disease.
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Obesity in pets is becoming more commonplace and is a catalyst for dangerous medical conditions, including arthritis, orthopedic disease and diabetes, Benson said. Make sure you're following the vet's orders when it comes to feeding your canine and don't give in to your pup's (adorable) begging.
Head to Vet at Signs of Serious Illness
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You know your dog well, so if he starts acting strangely, head to the vet right away. Putting off a visit makes your pup suffer longer than he needs to and, depending on the issue, can be life-threatening.
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Block out time in your daily schedule to focus on your dog. You can play with toys, go for a walk or even cuddle. It's especially important to do this if you work all day long or if you're planning a long vacation. Your pooch is less likely to suffer from anxiety if she's worn out from playing.
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