The biggest responsibility in owning a dog is making sure that it stays fit and healthy during its lifetime. There are a number of different ways you can ensure your dog leads a happy, healthy and full life.
Read our complete dog health guide to see how many you are already doing and which you may need to introduce to your dog’s life.
If you’ve just got your first dog you should find this guide for new dog owners particularly useful.
A balanced and high-quality diet for your dog
In the same way that food affects how we look, feel and even behave, your dog’s wellbeing is strongly affected by what it eats. Providing your dog with a balanced and high-quality diet can help them maintain a good weight, improve their immune system and keep their joints and muscles healthy.
However balanced and healthy the diet is, just make sure your dog doesn’t get used to any bad feeding habits and that you aren’t underfeeding or overfeeding your pooch.
Weigh your dog on a regular basis
When you look, cuddle and, play with your dog every day it can be difficult to notice if they’re gaining or losing weight. As a general rule, you should be able to feel your dog’s ribs but not see them and they should have an hourglass figure.
One of our top dog care tips is to weigh your dog on a regular basis and keep track of its weight gains and losses in a small log book. Your vet will do this as long as you keep up with the regular dog check-ups.
Maintain your dog’s sparkling white smile
You should ensure that basic dental hygiene is followed for your dog. If not, it can result in serious illnesses such as a build-up of plaque and tartar, bleeding gums, teeth falling out and bad breath.
To get started on keeping your dog’s teeth sparkling white, pick up a pet-friendly toothbrush and toothpaste. If you want more tips on keeping your dog’s teeth in good health make sure to ask your vet the next time you visit.
Make sure your dog is getting regular exercise
The amount of regular exercise your dog needs very much depends on the breed. However, no matter which breed of dog you have, regular exercise is extremely beneficial.
While taking your dog for a walk do not limit the amount of physical stimulation it gets. Let your dog chase a ball in the park and run around the garden. Not only does this keep your dog fit but it means when you’re back in the house your dog will be more relaxed and sleepier, which also makes your life easier.
If you’re about to get a dog or already own one and aren’t sure how much exercise it needs check out our SuperDog Breed Guides for more useful information.
Walking in a winter wonderland
Cold, wet, dark December mornings may be a bit forbidding, but keeping up the dog walks during the winter is also important to your dog’s health. The change of scenery will keep your dog’s mind active and will also mean it doesn’t put on any weight during the winter.
Your dog will appreciate it and it will without a doubt strengthen the bond between both of you. When you do take your dog for a walk during winter, make sure your dog has a collar which reflects light and any clothing should be visible in the dark for safety. You could also invest in a waterproof coat to make sure their fur doesn’t absorb the cold and rain.
Make regular trips to the vet
Taking your dog for regular routine check-ups at the vet is highly recommended. Aside from being able to provide early diagnosis and treatments for any health issues, it will give you the opportunity to speak to your vet about dog vaccinations, weight management, parasite protection or any other general questions you may have.
Keep your dog’s bed clean
While a dog is a man's best friend, sleep is a dog’s best friend. Whether your pooch has rolled around in the dirt or jumped into muddy puddles, you should always make sure that its bed is clean. We recommend regularly shaking the bedding outside to remove any loose hairs and dirt before hoovering away the remaining dirt or dust.
Clean your dog’s towels and blankets every week to keep them smelling flesh and reduce the possibility of your dog catching fleas.
Pooch pampering days
Your dog loves a good day of pampering and should get used to being groomed and handled on a regular basis. Breeds with long hair will need more grooming than short-haired breeds but by combing or brushing your dog’s fur every day you’ll help prevent matting and keep it clean.
Top Tip: You should use the time that you pamper your dog to do a general check for lumps, bumps or parasites.
Don’t forget to check your dog’s eyes and ears for any irregularities as well as their paws. If you’re going to wash your dog at home, we recommend a mild dog shampoo with warm water.
How to mentally stimulate your dog
If you’ve not already realised thanks to the state of your shoes, dogs love to chew things. This type of behaviour is usually linked to boredom so for a longer-lasting and more convenient option, buy your dog toys made of rubber.
One of our favourite rubber toys has treats stuffed inside of it, which your dog has to try and retrieve. This helps to reduce your dog’s anxiety as it is distracted by a mentally stimulating task. Playing tug of war or fetch with your dog can also help to build a bond between both of you and provide your dog with the necessary exercise.
Get your dog a ‘play buddy’
Just five or ten minutes of playing with another dog during the day will have your dog ready for bed once it gets home. This high-intensity workout is a great way to keep your dog agile, active and sociable. It is also a great time for you to meet up with your dog owner friends to talk about all things pooch-related or catch up on your weekly gossip.
Give your dog an extra spring in their step
Every dog is unique in its own way not only in terms of its personality but also with regards to their nutritional needs. Add a vitamin supplement to your dog’s food to make sure it’s receiving all the nutrition, essential vitamins and minerals they need. You’ll be able to see the difference especially when you take your dog for a walk and they have a certain spring in their step.
If you’re not already in a routine of employing some of these tips it’s not too late to start now. The more time and effort you put into keeping your dog fit and healthy the more you’ll be able to reap the benefits of having a happy and healthy pooch.