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As a dog owner, you may adore your dog as if he were your own flesh and blood. Just like your children, you want to make sure you are given the best possible care so that your dog can live a happy, healthy life.
If you aspire to be an excellent pet parent, here are some dog care tips to help you along the way.
Meet your dog’s basic needs
As a dog owner, it is essential to understand and meet your pet’s basic needs. Whether you are a novice pet parent or an expert, you will need to prepare the ground for your new puppy. Your dog’s basic needs consist of nutritious food, water, treats, toys, and bedding to make your pup feel at home.
When you bring a new dog into your home, it’s best to make a trip to the vet ASAP. Your vet can help you determine the right type and amount of food and other important things you need to know about caring for your new friend.
Monitor food consumption
More than a third (34%) of dogs have been diagnosed with obesity, according to the latest data from Banfield Pet Hospital, which includes more than 1,000 veterinary hospitals in 42 states. This is an increase of 108% from 2011 to 2020.
Unfortunately, overweight canines are at risk for many health risks such as metabolic abnormalities, cardiovascular disease, or a weakened immune system. While you may want to spoil your pet, avoid spoiling them with food.
Provide enough water throughout the day
All dogs need access to clean, fresh water at all times of the day. Make sure to replenish the water and wash all food and water dishes so they don’t contain bacteria.
Groom your dog regularly
Grooming the pet regularly ensures that it is clean and free of pests. While some dogs only need to be bathed every few months, others need regular grooming. If your dog sheds, you will need to brush him more often.
Nail trimming is also a must. Neglecting to trim your dog’s nails can cause health problems such as tendon injury and deformity of the feet.
Maintain your dog’s health with routine grooming
Proactively looking after your pet’s well-being and health care ensures that they live the best and healthiest life possible.
If you have pet insuranceYou can usually offset the cost of routine care by adding a health package to your plan. For example, the average cost of a vet office visit is about $61, according to a Forbes Advisor analysis of vet costs, while the average cost of a series of vaccinations (bivalent influenza, Bordetella, DAPP, leptospirosis, Lyme disease and rabies) ) costs about 202 dollars.
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Schedule annual check-ups with your vet
One of the best ways to keep your pet healthy is to visit your vet regularly so they can check your dog for any health concerns.
Find flea, tick and heartworm prevention solutions
Fleas and ticks put your health and the health of your pet at risk because they can transmit diseases such as Lyme disease, plague, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Heartworms can damage your dog’s arteries, heart, and lungs.
Talk to your vet about preventive measures, such as topical and oral medications.
Maintain proper vaccinations
Vaccinations help protect your dog’s body from invasive diseases. Standard canine vaccines usually include parvovirus, tuberculosis, rabies, and hepatitis C.
If you groom or sit on your dog, you may also need a vaccine against Bordetella bronchiseptica, which can cause kennel cough. Your vet can help you decide which vaccines are right for your dog.
Consider spaying or neutering your pet
Spaying and neutering pets isn’t just about population control—it can help protect your canine companion from certain diseases.
For example, spaying your dog can reduce her chances of developing uterine infections and mammary tumors. It can protect male dogs from testicular cancer and prostate concerns.
Brush your dog’s teeth
While often overlooked, dental care is also essential to maintaining your pet’s health. Regular brushing of your puppy’s teeth can help prevent dental diseases that can affect your dog’s kidney and liver function.
A dental cleaning may also be recommended, but it can cost a few hundred dollars to $1,000, depending on your location. Some pet insurance companies, such as Lemonade Pet Insurance, sell add-ons to help offset the cost of dental care, including routine dental cleanings.
Related: Pet dental insurance explained
Stimulate the dog’s brain and body
A balance of physical and mental stimulation plays an important role in your dog’s health. It can also encourage good behavior while discouraging harmful behaviors that can damage patience and home.
As the saying goes: a tired dog is a good dog.
Exercise the dog every day
Regular exercise promotes healthy bones, joints, muscles, and organs. Walking can also combat boredom and provide mental stimulation. You can also create an exercise routine with your pet, such as climbing stairs, taking walks, or jogging in the backyard.
While different sizes and breeds of dogs require different levels of exercise, establishing an exercise routine with your four-legged friend is essential.
Challenge your dog’s brain
Man’s best friend benefits from mental stimulation. Teach your dog new tricks, play new games and make puzzles. Since dogs have such a heightened sense of smell, they like to use their noses to explore. Try scattering treats around the house for your dog to find.
Schedule slow meals
Some dogs like to gobble their food in one gulp. But eating too quickly may lead to digestive problems or lead to vomiting.
Slow down your dog’s eating habits. Consider a mealtime puzzle feeder or put a tennis ball in their food bowl so they have to eat around it.
Keep your pet safe
There are dangers lurking inside and outside the home that could cause harm to your dog. Here are some tips for keeping your dog safe and out of trouble.
Register your puppy
State and local pet laws often require dog owners to register their pets. Check with your local municipalities so you can be sure your dog is properly licensed. You’ll want to attach the license to his collar to prove that your dog is registered in case he gets lost.
Consider a microchip
If your dog gets lost, a microchip can help you locate your pet. Microchips are painless when implanted and contain your contact information. These can usually be scanned at animal shelters and veterinary offices. Some pet insurance plans cover the cost of microchipping.
Secure trash, chemicals, and toxins around your home
Dogs are curious creatures, but sometimes their curiosity can put them at risk of injury or illness—especially when exploring your home. To keep your dog out of harm’s way, secure litter, poisons, and other chemicals around the house.
Create a safe space for your dog
Dogs can become anxious or stressed under certain situations, such as the sound of thunder or the hustle of house guests. Creating a safe space can provide your pet with comfort and security when they need to retreat. Have a place in your home with some amenities like a bed, blanket, toys and fresh water.
Clean up the dog’s things
Washing dog toys, blankets, and bedding removes germs, dirt, pollen, and other things that can irritate your pet. Some dogs suffer from seasonal allergies, so be sure to wash your dog’s bedding on a regular basis.
Keep food out of your dog’s reach
Food items such as avocados, chocolate, and onions are toxic to dogs. Keeping these items out of their reach can help avoid some serious health consequences.
In general, you should not give your puppy “people food” such as your leftovers. But some “people food” like regular chicken, plain rice, and canned pumpkin may be recommended to you by your vet for specific issues, such as digestive issues.
Use the leash when in public
By always using a leash in public, you can help your pet avoid accidents and injuries. For example, if your dog spots a squirrel and then nails it, your dog may be at risk of being hit by a car.
Training and bonding with your dog to strengthen your relationship
Bonding and training a dog go hand in hand. By doing both, you build a relationship of respect, connection, and companionship.
Prioritize for once with your pup
Dogs thrive on the love and affection of their owners. Prioritizing daily interactions with your pet strengthens your bond. You can do this by petting, playing, and giving your dog treats.
Be patient and steadfast
Training a dog requires a lot of patience and fortitude. Dogs can sense negative energy, so if they make you feel angry or agitated, it may not be doing well. If you are struggling to train your dog, see a professional or seek guidance from your vet. Remember, training your pup won’t happen overnight, so stick with it – the results will be worth it.
Consider positive reinforcement training
Positive reinforcement training means that you reward your pet for good behaviors and ignore the bad. This method of training builds your dog’s confidence, encourages cooperation and increases tolerance. Moreover, it can enhance your relationship with your dog.
Seasonal care tips
Changing temperatures and weather conditions can affect how you care for your furry best friend. Here are some tips to keep in mind whether it’s winter, spring, summer or fall.
Monitor the time your pet spends outside
In the winter, freezing temperatures can cause frostbite on a dog’s ears, paws, and tail. In the summer months, heat can dehydrate your pup and cause heatstroke. Be sure to keep an eye on the weather and limit your dog’s time outside in inclement weather.
Pay close attention to your dog’s feet
In the winter months, salt and ice can contribute to cracks in the linings of your pet’s paws. During the summer months, hot asphalt or concrete can cause burns and cause pain. Consider using booties to protect your dog’s feet, or try walking on the grass.
Stay away from toxic algae
When hiking, walking, or just venturing around your property, entering water containing toxic algae can make your dog very sick. Check with your local Parks and Recreation department for bodies of water that could contain harmful bacteria or toxins that could be harmful to your dog.
Avoid leaving your pet in a hot car
Never leave your dog unsupervised in a car. Even if you think the weather outside is comfortable, temperatures can quickly reach dangerous levels, putting your dog at risk of serious illness or death. The temperature inside your car can rise 20 degrees in just 10 minutes, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Plan for unexpected vet bills with pet insurance
Even with the best planning and preventive measures, unexpected accidents and illnesses can still occur, which can result in large veterinary bills. For example, your dog may tear his cruciate ligament while chasing a ball or he may develop a serious disease such as cancer.
Pet insurance is a good way to help offset your vet bills. And it may be more affordable than you think. The average cost of pet insurance for a dog is $35 per month, according to a Forbes Advisor analysis of pet insurance rates. This includes $5,000 annual coverage, a $250 deductible and a 90% payment level.
If you’re not sure if pet insurance is worth it, here’s a scenario to consider: Your dog tears his anterior cruciate ligament and needs surgery. Vet bills – $4,000. If you had pet insurance with a $250 deductible and a 90% benefit level, your out-of-pocket costs would be $375 ($250 deductible + 10% of $3,750 = $375).
You can find a good rate by comparing pet insurance quotes online or by speaking with an independent insurance agent.
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