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10 preventative healthcare tips for keeping a healthy dog

Jack Russel runs across a field with a ball in his mouth advice © Pexels

The best way to maintain a dog healthy throughout its life, is preventative care.

By Justine Seraphin

There are many simple ways you can prevent illness, injuries, premature ageing, and a variety of other health problems in dogs. Remember dogs age much faster than humans. The equivalent of you going for a check-up once a year is going to the vet’s 4 to 5 times a year for your dog! The following article will provide you with a few care guidelines in order to set up an effective preventative healthcare plan for your pet.

1. Perform home-based check-ups regularly

You are closest to your dog, so you’re in the best position to know if something’s up. Note any strange changes in behaviour and talk to your vet about it. You can check your dog for minor injuries or pain by visual and physical examinations. If you see or feel anything strange, you should contact your vet (and not Google).

2. Take your dog for vet check-ups regularly

A healthy adult dog should see a vet at least once a year for a check-up. This should happen more often if your dog is very young, elderly, or has a past of diseases/illnesses. An examination by a professional will help nip any issues in the bud.

3. Get your dog vaccinated

In the UK, the core vaccines recommended for all dogs are Adenovirus, Canine Parvovirus, and Canine Distemper. Leptospirosis is not enforced but highly recommended. Boosters are usually required for most vaccinations, and depending on the vaccine, should be administered between 1 and 3 years after the last one.

If you are registered at a good vet clinic, your veterinarian should be sending you regular reminders of when your dog’s next vaccinations are due. However, make sure you are keeping track as well, and take your dog for regular check-ups to be positive you’re not forgetting anything. Vaccines can protect your dog from extremely serious and often fatal diseases.

4. Parasite control: ticks, fleas, and worms

As an adult, a dog needs to be taking worm medicine at least once every 3 months to avoid intestinal parasites. Fleas and ticks are more common during the warm summer months, so you can use treatments in prevention of that time period. These come in various forms: pills to swallow, shampoos, collars, even home-sprays.  

Ticks and fleas, though small, can carry serious diseases, and worms can even be fatal to your dog. Preventative medicine is vital to keep your dog safe.

5. Test for diseases

Your vet will normally recommend an appropriate schedule for bloodwork, urine testing, or even x-rays, but you can ask for this as well. Some diseases do not show symptoms in the patient until they are very advanced, and this should be avoided at all costs. The earlier a disease is noticed in an animal, the earlier and the better it can be treated.

6. Brush your dog’s teeth

Get your dog used to having his teeth brushed and do it regularly. You can also add special ‘mouthwash’ to your dog’s water, and purchase bones made to prevent the development of tartar. If you need a little extra push, you can ask your vet to clean your dog’s teeth, although this often involves anaesthesia, and can therefore be quite stressful for your pet.

However, if your dog doesn’t receive dental care, he can develop dental diseases which can cause pain, infection, and inflammation, so it is vital to keep those pearly whites clean.

7. Keep your dog fit

Follow the portion instructions recommended by the brand you are using. Split this daily portion into two meals a day. If you are giving your dog lots of treats during training, make sure you adjust his meal portions. Exercise your dog appropriately in accordance with his breed and age.

You can ask your breeder/shelter/vet for advice on this, and weigh your dog regularly to keep track of how he’s doing. Overweight animals can suffer from diabetes, heart and respiratory disease, cancer, and arthritis to name a few. While feeding him tasty treats seems nice, it should really only be occasional, as you could be putting your beloved pet in danger.

8. Groom your dog

This is especially important for dogs that have a very thick coat, as matting can cause sores to develop. Grooming also controls external parasites from spreading. Cleaning the eyes and ears will avoid infections developing in those sensitive areas (particularly for wrinkly friends), and clipping the nails will avoid any pain or your dog from adopting bad posture.

9. Spay or neuter your dog

This is not only an effective solution if you are experiencing behaviour problems, but it can also help prevent diseases such as pyometra (uterine infection), and mammary, uterine, and testicular cancer. It also helps prevent unwanted litters from ending up in shelters, which are already over-flowing with residents.

10. Microchip your dog

Getting your dog microchipped will ensure you get your dog back as soon as possible if he ever gets lost, or even stolen. Make sure the data on the micro-chip is recent, and if you ever have a doubt, you can always ask your vet to ‘check the chip’. This should be done regularly anyway to make sure the chip still works.

We love our dogs more than anything. They are our best friends and would do anything for us, so why wouldn’t we do the same for them? Keeping them healthy throughout their lives will not only make them happier, but it will also keep them with us for longer, so do ensure you follow a preventative healthcare plan for your four-legged friend.