Thursday, 3 February 2011

4 Factors that Contribute to Optimum Dog Health

Is your dog receiving optimum care to prevent common canine maladies? Learn what to be mindful of in raising a healthy, able-bodied pet

Everyone knows a dog brings a sense of warmth and joy into its owner’s lives. The mutual love and honor between the two is a tradition that has been around for generations. And while your pet easily displays these innate mannerisms of loyalty, when it comes to your pet’s health the signals may not be so transparent. Understanding and acknowledging your dog's diet and environment are a couple first steps to creating a happier and more satisfied pooch.
Below is a list of factors to consider in your dog's daily routine:

What are They Really Eating?

Have you taken a look at the label of ingredients in your dog's food? Clinical studies show that the most common food allergens aren't what one typically would think of: Beef, dairy products, and wheat comprised 68% of cases while ingredients including chicken, chicken egg, lamb and soy rounded out 25% of cases. Creating a diet free of allergens can eliminate food allergies. If your pet is experiencing symptoms correlated with a food allergy such as excessive scratching and skin infections, it will be worthwhile to put him on a food trial and elimination diet. Doing so could eliminate the allergen by exposing the dog to a novel source of protein and carbohydrate for 12 weeks. If, when going back to the original diet after the 12 weeks is up, the dog experiences the same symptoms then an official diagnosis of food allergy is confirmed.

Some seek to return their animals to a raw food diet, citing its many benefits such as a boosted immune system and healthier teeth while providing all the nutrients your pet needs. Still others are drawn to the ease and convenience of processed foods but at the price of minimal nutrition. Whatever you decide for your pet, it is best to consult with a veterinarian before altering your dog's existing diet.

Medicines and Supplements

There's nothing more trying than an animal that fights through a serious medical condition. Establishing a trust-worthy relationship with your veterinarian is essential in the health and prevention of illnesses in your pet. Regular checkups aid in building your knowledge about canine maladies and may help you catch treatable diseases faster.
When administering a medication to your dog take note of the prescribed name, forms, storage, dose, uses, and side effects. And always use them with care and under the supervision of your veterinarian. Your dog’s size, health condition, and age can determine the dosage so these factors weigh heavily before administering the treatment.

Acknowledging the Environment

Your very household can be a minefield of dangers for your pet. Toxic substances are lurking just around the corner so it's up to you to keep your pet out of harm's way. Human medications, Insecticides, people food, and plants are a sampling of hazards to watch more closely. A plant as innocuous as a Lily is especially toxic to cats and a major contributor to life-threatening kidney failure. Additionally, household cleaners such as bleaches and detergents can cause serious gastrointestinal distress and irritation to the respiratory tract. Being mindful of the harm apparent in everyday household products is the first step to having a safer environment for your dog.

General Health Issues

Being mindful of your environment significantly reduces the risks of health-problems later on. And still there are threats to your dog’s health that you should be aware of. The most urgent and notable ones being Canine Distemper, Parvovirus Infection, Dog Poisoning, Rabies, and Lyme Disease. Many of these health risks can be avoided by keeping your dog up-to-date with vaccinations and by maintaining a healthy environment for your dog.
Above all, the well being of your dog is important not only to you but to your veterinarian. Being conscientious of the food and medicine you administer to them, as well as the everyday environment they are exposed to will give you a piece of mind and ensure your dogs health is at an optimum level. This will help in creating a long, trusting bond between the two of you that will last for years.
For further information about animal nutrition and safety:

If your pet has been poisoned call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435. Also have on hand the number of a local, prominent veterinarian.

Read more at Suite101: 4 Factors that Contribute to Optimum Dog Health

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