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Tips for Keeping Your Dog Healthy and Happy This New Year

Tips for Keeping Your Dog Healthy and Happy This New Year

As the new year quickly approaches, many of us may start thinking about or being asked if or what our New Year's resolutions may be. Every year, the most common resolutions are related to improving one's overall health in some way. Regardless of whether you are a fan of New Year's resolutions or despise the idea altogether, it is never a bad idea to think about ways to improve your own health and your family's. We all know that dogs are definitely considered part of our families, and it is just as important to us to keep them healthy and happy. Since dogs depend on you to keep them healthy, here are a few reminders to keep your pup happy and healthy not only in 2023 but for many years to come!

Make Sure Your Dog’s Food Meets Their Nutritional Needs

Your dog’s nutrition is fundamental to their overall health. The foods they eat directly impact their weight, energy level, skin and coat, and overall digestive system function. The proper dog food for your pup will provide them with all the nutrients they need and the quantity they need. These are not the same for every dog since they are based on unique characteristics such as age, weight, health, and activity level. Therefore, if any of these characteristics have changed, it is crucial to reevaluate your dog’s food to ensure that these changes are reflected in an updated diet. 

Here are a few general tips for finding a high-quality dog food:

1. Make sure to choose “Complete and Balanced” dog foods

The label of your dog's food includes the phrase "complete and balanced" in the nutritional adequacy statement. Many people may think this is just an advertising slogan, but it is actually there to state that the Association of American Feed Control Officials has confirmed the product contains the specific nutrients and each of their recommended levels to meet the nutritional needs of a pet's diet. So this statement confirms that the food has all the different nutrients and the correct amount to meet your dog's daily nutritional needs. If your dog's food label doesn't include "complete and balanced" on the label, your dog may be deficient in one or more essential nutrients they need in their diet. 

2. Dog food should include more than just meat and meat products

Although meat certainly makes us the majority of a dog’s diet, it is important that they receive nutrients from other ingredients. Nutrients like grains, fruits, vegetables, and other non-meat foods are not simply fillers but valuable sources of essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber for domestic dogs. A high-quality and nutritious dog food will contain meat, vegetables, grains, and fruit so check your dog’s food label to see if these ingredients are included. 

Routine Exercise

We all know that there are numerous physical and mental benefits of routinely exercising. These benefits are not only well established for us but for our pets as well. Daily exercise not only keeps your dog at a healthy weight, but it also aids in their digestive tract and helps them burn off excess energy. Not receiving enough physical activity can lead to mental boredom, which often leads to destructive behaviors or anxiety. Even if you think your dog is pretty active, it is common for dog owners to underestimate just how much exercise their dog truly needs or let it fall off their list of priorities when life gets busy. Here are a few tips for getting in that routine exercise with your pup:

1. Exercise Together

Dogs want human interaction so choose activities you can do to get some exercise together. For example, taking your dog along with you on a hike or some outdoor trails is an excellent way to reap the benefits of exercise while having fun together! Try various activities until you find which you both enjoy doing the most. 

If you want to learn some tips for how to start hiking with your dog, you can find those here.

2. Establish a Routine

We all know that life gets busy, and for many of us, the first thing that gets pushed to the side with a long list of responsibilities and tasks is exercise. As enjoyable as a long walk along the trail with our dog may sound, it isn’t possible for each of us every day. However, it helps to determine the ideal exercise regimen for you and your dog and establish it as part of your daily or weekly routine. If it becomes routine, you will be less likely to let one missed day spiral into multiple or neglect it entirely. 

Annual Wellness Exams at the Vet

It is important to take your dog in for a veterinary exam on an annual basis, not just when something is wrong. Routine veterinary exams are essential for ensuring your pet’s long-term health and well-being, even if they seem healthy. These exams allow vets to assess your pet’s health and screen for emerging health problems, which are always easier to treat when caught early. Rather than saving your vet visits for when your pet is showing obvious signs of illness or injury, it pays to be proactive about preventative care. When you live with your animal daily, it is hard to notice any subtle changes, and since your dog ages faster, many subtle changes can develop over a couple of months. Routine visits allow the vet to closely monitor changes before your dog’s health gets out of hand.

1. Schedule out visits to the vet routine visits 

If you aren’t on a routine veterinary visit schedule already, get into the habit of scheduling regular wellness exams. Ask your vet how often they recommend coming in for a wellness exam, as these vary based on the various characteristics of your dog. Then, schedule them in advance and put them on the calendar, so it can’t slip your mind, or if something comes up, you have ample time to reschedule.

2. Make Sure Your Dog’s Vaccinations are up to date

One of the surest ways to protect your pup's health is by making sure they have all of the vaccinations they need. All dogs need to be vaccinated, but not all are suited to protect every dog's lifestyle and needs. It is good to confirm with your vet that your dog is updated on their shots, which may have changed due to health issues or where you live. Most adult dogs need to be revaccinated every 1 to 3 years, so it may be time to schedule them for another. 

3. Parasite Prevention

Along with regular vaccination, you should also ensure your pet is up-to-date on their parasite prevention measures. A host of parasites, including fleas, ticks, and heartworm, can cause serious health problems that are common in your area. So again, talk to your vet about which vaccinations your dog may need. 

We hope these helpful reminders and tips will keep your pet happy and healthy so you can enjoy many more years of fun adventures together! 

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