How to Help Your Dog Live the Good Life

It's natural that you want to take care of your pooch so he will be by your side for years. The good news is that there are lots of things you can do to care for your dog. If you just added a dog to your family, congratulations! You've just signed up for one of the best experiences life has to offer--the love of a dog. To keep its tail wagging perkily and its eyes shining brightly the following are the tips for caring for your dog that will reward both of you with years of happy times with a loyal companion.

Keep Wellness Appointments--Schedule an appointment with a veterinarian at least once a year. If this is your first dog, ask others whose dogs look healthy for a recommendation.  Any pet store or a park where there are a lot of dogs will be sure to put you in close contact with owners who will be more than glad to give you the name of someone good.

Regularly scheduled visits to the vet help prevent problems like heartworms, conditions that result from fleas and ticks, as well as baseline numbers provided by having blood work done. Checkups also keep shots up to date which helps avoid diseases that are preventable. This ounce of prevention is way less expensive than a pound of cure and makes for a happier life for your dog too.

Groom Regularly--Different breeds require different amounts of grooming. Long hair generally requires more brushing and untangling than does short hair. Stick to a schedule of brushing and bathing that lets your pooch look and smell its best. Dogs like to look beautiful too; and remember, a clean dog will help your home look and smell clean too. Check with a veterinarian for shampoo and a schedule that will keep skin healthy rather than drying it out.

Feed a Healthy Diet--If you have a puppy, consult with your vet about what you should feed, and how much and often. Because they are still developing their nutritional requirements are very different from a mature dog. If you have an adult, find out what your breed's weight should be and stick to it. Unless your dog is a working dog on a farm or retriever that hunts with you often, the portions on many brands of dog food will lead to obesity very quickly.

Food that is low in additives and fillers is best. Try adding small portions of fresh vegetables, meats, pasta, and bread. You will find your dog has more energy, that you can see a waistline, and feel (not see) his ribs. Controlling weight from the beginning is one of the best things you can do to avoid joint problems and diabetes.

And of course, making sure fresh water is available constantly is crucial. Some will prefer toilet water. If so, make sure that you flush after each use and avoid using self-cleaning toilet bowl cleaners.

Schedule Exercise--Dogs (like humans) were never meant to be couch potatoes. So a schedule of daily exercise is good. It can be a walk with you or retrieving a Frisbee in the backyard, or a romp in a favorite park with other doggie friends. Exercise is not only good physically but will serve to strengthen the bond between you and your dog.

Know Your Dog' Habits--Part of the bonding process involves getting to know each other. Just as you will come to know what its likes and dislikes are, it will do the same for you. You will start to anticipate each other with just a look or a smile. This is a good thing because when your dog's behavior, appetite, or disposition changes it can often mean that there is a physical problem at the root of it.

Don't try to diagnose a significant change in your dog's routine. See your vet immediately. Waiting to see, rather than going for immediate advice from a professional often gives a problem time to grow.

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