Your pup is your pal, so of course you want to make sure your furry family member is happy and healthy. A content pooch leads to a satisfied pet owner.
“Dogs depend on us for shelter, companionship, love, and food,” says Crystal Litzenberger, a veterinary surgery technician, who also works for Lolahemp. “As pet owners, it’s our responsibility to make sure our dogs live happy and healthy lives.”
“A happy dog is a healthy dog,” adds veterinarian Georgina Ushi Phillips, who oversees an urgent care for pets and is with We Love Doodles. Providing your dog with the ingredients of a healthy life will pay off for everyone in the family, so here are some tips for how to make your dog healthy, and as a result, happy.
Signs your pup isn’t happy
Dogs are transparent. If they’re not feeling well, they’ll let you know. Here are some red flags to keep an eye out for.
Unhappy body language
“Our furry friends’ body language is quite self-revealing,” says Phillips. “Common signs a dog is unhappy and possibly feeling sick include a tucked tail, retracted ears, and stiff body positions.” Every dog is different, however, so take note of how your pup reacts to things it doesn’t like, whether it be the vacuum cleaner or a type of food.
Change in behavior
“Dogs are creatures of habit,” says Litzenberger. “If a dog is secluding themselves, crying, not enjoying their everyday routine, not eating, looking unsettled, or not coming to you when you call them, you may want to bring your dog to the vet.”
Behavior is a big cue of unhappiness, agrees veterinarian Sarah Wooten of Big Barker dog beds. “Signs your dog is unhappy include lagging behind during walks, sleeping more during the day, not enjoying activities they once used to, participating less in family time, and changes in temperament.”
How to make your dog happier (and healthier)
In addition to making your home life enjoyable, happy dogs tend to have less chronic illness like arthritis, diabetes, and obesity. Here are some dog health tips for how to make your dog happy.
1. Routine veterinary care
Ensure that your dog has an exam at least once a year. Annual vaccinations and prevention of heartworms, intestinal parasites, and fleas and ticks is important to a healthy life. If your dog has a chronic health condition or is aging, your furry family member may need more frequent vet visits.
“Routine visits to the veterinarian as dogs age are essential for good health,” says Litzenberger. “When dogs approach the senior years, it’s a good idea to get annual blood work done to detect issues not seen during routine physical exams.”
2. Daily exercise
“Regular physical activity is important to your dog’s health,” says Phillips. “Activities such as daily walks and visiting the dog park — where they can make new friends, which also contributes to their overall happiness — help your dog live a great life.”
“Taking your dog out for a quick 20-minute walk at the park, a hike on a trail or run at the dog park will help keep them in shape, let them socialize, and burn energy,” agrees Litzenberger. “Burning energy on a walk or playing hard in the backyard is absolutely essential for some breeds, because doing so keeps them from becoming anxious.”
Dog training can also keep your pooch in shape, says trainer Colby Lehew, founder of Dogletics. “Dog sports such as agility and disc frisbee exercise their minds and bodies,” she says, noting that overweight dogs should not participate in agility until their weight has been managed.
3. Regular dental care
Plaque and tartar buildup in your dog’s mouth can lead to serious health problems. If your dog has bad breath, it’s time for a professional dental cleaning. To prevent dental problems in the first place, brush your dog’s teeth, use oral rinses, and give dental treats.
4. Monthly grooming
Keep your pup feeling their best with regular grooming. Leaving their coats and skin ungroomed can cause long-term health issues that can easily be avoided. Most dogs thrive with a monthly nail trim and bath. How often your dog requires grooming will depend on breed.
5. High-quality nutrition
Proper nutrition is vital to keeping your pup healthy and happy. What your furry family member eats affects their skin, coat, weight, digestion, and energy level. The best way to ensure your dog is receiving a high-quality diet is to provide them with healthy, well-balanced food. Puppo’s quiz allows you to calculate a personalized feeding regimen that will keep your puppy happy and healthy and ensure they get the perfect meals, hand-picked specifically for them.
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