A dog can bring joy, love and fun times to your home as long as you keep your dog healthy. They will be your best friend and you'll want to ensure you give him or her the best possible care. Beyond that, you should be aware there are several diseases and parasites which dogs are exposed to daily. There are certain steps that should be taken if you wish to keep your canine friend healthy for a very long time.

So, in addition to your love, attention and companionship, here are some steps you should take as a responsible pet owner to keep your dog healthy:

healthy dogs playing

Keep your pet at a healthy weight.

A healthy weight is defined as one that matches your pet's frame, age, and activity level. Dogs often need to lose some weight if they have been overfed or have not been able to play due to weather or lack of open areas nearby. Avoid feeding your pet empty-calorie foods that provide little nutritional value. Feed your pet food that allows her to maintain a healthy weight.

Exercise will help keep your dog healthy.

Regular exercise is essential to keep your dog healthy. Most dogs need at least 30 minutes of daily exercise, but they may need even more depending on age, size, and activity level. A new puppy needs to exercise as much as he or she can; their metabolic rate is very high.

Begin training your dog soon or by the time they are 10 weeks old, if possible. Spend time playing and interacting with your pet. Dogs are social animals, so it is best to keep them from feeling lonely or abandoned.

Make sure to play and exercise your dog regularly so they stay happy and have the opportunity to socialize. Your dog will also benefit from a lot of mental stimulation and time with other dogs.

Feed your dog a balanced, nutritious diet.

There are a variety of nutritious dog food products in the marketplace. There are also some that offer less than desired nutritional value. Be certain to read the ingredients and don't hesitate to ask your vet for recommendations specifically for your dog's breed. Some options to consider include grain-free, raw food, and home-prepared pet food.

It's important not to show your love by overfeeding your dog. A properly fed dog is a happy one. Be sure to provide your pet with the moderate portions to keep your dog healthy. You can do this by portioning the food into equal servings or using feeding cups, which can control the amount of food your pet eats. The nutrients, protein, and fats in your pet's diet should support normal growth, development, and function. As your pet ages, he or she may need food specifically formulated for age and breed.

A yearly vet checkup will help keep your dog healthy.

It's important to make sure your pet is healthy on a regular basis in order to help detect problems earlier. Some diseases can be treatable or even cured if detected early before serious symptoms have developed. For example, intestinal parasites can eventually lead to serious illness or even death, and heartworm disease can be fatal in puppies.

You can usually tell when your dog needs an examination. If your animal displays any of the following symptoms for more than a day or two, call or make an appointment to see your vet: vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, unusual or unexplained behavior, dull coat or no coat, or skin or eye problems.

Keep your dog healthy by vaccinating them against potentially deadly diseases.

The most important vaccinations every dog should be given are for distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, and rabies. Other potential immunizations will be based on your pet's lifestyle. Living around other animals or breeds or traveling to places that are known for infections may also call for different vaccinations.

Keep your pet free of parasites like fleas, ticks, and heartworm. Consult with your veterinarian for the best over the counter or prescribed medications for your pet. Use flea and tick prevention products year-round.

Where you live and where you play will determine when and how often to use these products.


Watch for illnesses and other health issues

Dogs are vulnerable to a range of infectious diseases and other illnesses. Watch your dog for signs of injury or illness daily. Even easily treatable conditions such as ear infections, pink eye, and urinary tract infections can lead to more serious health issues if left untreated.

Summer is a good time watch out for a dog's eye and ear health. During hot or humid weather, a dog's eyes can dry out and become irritated and ears can become clogged or blocked by pollen, dirt, and other impurities.

To reduce the discomfort associated with these issues, your vet may recommend some eye drops for dry eyes or an ear cleaner. The bottom line is that dogs with allergies can suffer the same types of eye and ear problems as humans.

Watch for changes in your dog's behavior

Dogs show pain and suffering in different ways. Changes in the way your dog behaves could be an early sign of illness or pain. You can keep your dog healthy by watching out for breathing difficulty, vomiting, diarrhea, dragging or favoring limbs, uncontrolled urination, and loss of appetite.

Never give your dog medicines made for humans

Only use medicines that have been prescribed for your individual dog and never use human medicines. Certain everyday items found in most homes are poisonous to dogs, so keep these well out of reach.

For example, chocolate, raisins, grapes and onions can be poisonous to dogs. Keep medications out of reach, including household products such as cold medicines, cough syrups, and vitamins.

Be aware of what your dog needs as they age

Your dog may need more rest and comfort as they get older. You might need to move to a special diet and purchase a nice comfortable bed that is away from busy activities, visitors and cold air to keep them comfortable and healthy.

Having said that, it's important to not rush your dog into semi-retirement. Dogs can get lonely when left alone for too long and that can have a negative effect on their emotions and health.

older but healthy dog

Keep your dog healthy by checking their teeth

Check your dog's teeth regularly for plaque or infection and visit your vet if you're worried about what you see. Their gums should be pink. If they are white, red, or swollen, you might want to schedule a visit to the vet. Their teeth should be clean without brown tartar buildup.

You can buy special dog toothbrushes and doggie toothpaste to help keep their teeth and gums healthy. Use a soft bristle toothbrush and wipe off the excess toothpaste from your dog's mouth. Always be gentle and don't press too hard on their teeth -- this can damage their teeth and gums.

An important question: to neuter or spay your dog?

You should consider getting your dog neutered (male) or spayed (female) at some point unless you intend to breed them and are able to care for both parents and offspring. The social issue involved here is that over 6 million dogs are given to shelters every year.

There are a number of health pluses and minuses for taking this step, so it is a good idea to not rush into the procedure too early. However, you'll discover there are clear advantages to this procedure for a number of breeds.

Some benefits are based on scientific research while others still do not have conclusive evidence.

The state where you live may have laws pertaining to this step and without a doubt you should get the advice of your dog's veterinarian.

Microchips are in these days

Make sure your dog can be identified both on their collar and by microchip so that they can be returned to you quickly if they become lost. Microchips are an increasingly popular form of identification for dogs. Since they are implanted in your dog's skin, they cannot be removed and are a permanent form of identification. Make sure to register your dog's microchip as soon as he or she been implanted. You'll rest easier once that is done.

Keep your dog's coat clean

Ensure your dog's coat is kept in good condition with regular grooming. You don't want to bathe your dog too often as it can dry out and irritate their skin, but be on the lookout for matted, dirty and stringy fur that needs attention.

Brushing your dog frequently is a good way to keep them healthy and clean and most dogs love it. Some other steps to take include trimming around the ears and clipping the dog's nails. 

Pet insurance can help keep your dog healthy.

Everyone with a pet asks themselves if pet insurance is worth the cost. It is a personal decision, so there is no way to say what is best for your dog and situation. You can click here to see some of the most popular and helpful plans on the market.

It is a growing industry, so obviously more people are doing it. A good insurance plan will generally cover diagnostic exams, medications, surgeries and hospital stays. Some plans offer several vet and hospital visits and emergency coverage, which can prove invaluable in an emergency situation. Some are more limited or require a higher deductible.

Your vet may offer an in-house plan and there are hundreds of options to choose from. In fact, your home and auto insurance provider may have a plan to offer you. It pays to talk to your vet and then research and compare the top two or three options.

Keep your dog healthy and enjoy years of fun and companionship.

These are some of the best ways to keep your new dog - actually any dog - healthy. There is nothing better for an upbeat family life than having a fun loving and healthy pet in your life.

Be sure to take your dog in for yearly health checks. Many vets provide health care packages that work alongside your pet insurance to help manage the costs of check-ups and preventative treatments. Ask your vet if they offer a health care scheme.

About the author, Grover

Grover is an affectionate border collie with endless amounts of energy. His name comes from a combination of Grrr & Rover. Grover is the most intelligent and intuitive dog we’ve ever known. He is super intelligent and can always tell when things are happy or stressful around him. He needs lots of physical exercise and mental activities to be truly happy, but is always a fun and loyal companion.

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