Communicating with your veterinarian is important. After all, your vet is your dog’s best friend in health! However, despite veterinarians’ knowledge on what is best for canine welfare, many pup parents tend to put up a fight when they are told how to properly care for their dog.
Following your vet’s advice is the best way to maintain your dog’s health. So, we’ve made a list of some of the key things your veterinarian wish you knew, or understood better, about caring for your pooch.
1. Proper Nutrition Is Vital
Nutrition is the single most important aspect of a dog’s health. Somehow, this is generally overlooked by pet parents, who have grown accustomed to the idea of dogs eating basic kibble, table scraps, and box store treats.
What your veterinarian, and many other dog owners, want you to know about nutrition, is that a healthy dog is a happy dog. If you feed your dog properly, ensuring that he receives all the nutrients he requires, and maintain a decent body weight, he will live a much longer life. Keep it lean!
The most common argument for not feeding your pup quality dog food is the expense. However, if your dog is properly fed and cared for, you will spend much less money on veterinarian bills and medication in the long run! Many generic foods and treats lead to cancer, obesity, diabetes, kidney, and liver failure.
If you are unsure of what to feed your pet, consult your veterinarian! They will be able to recommend a diet that suits your dog’s needs, as well as some awesome tips on maintaining a proper weight.
2. All Dogs Need Exercise
No matter what breed, age, size, or energy level your dog is, your dog needs exercise.
Exercising your dog can be as simple as taking him for a walk around the block, or walking him on a treadmill for ten minutes. If you have a low energy dog, or a dog with health issues, light activity is a great way to keep him in shape.
For more energetic dogs or developing dogs, frequent exercise is necessary to maintain their health. If you are unable to exercise your dog regularly, there are many services available that would be suitable for helping your dog get the exercise he needs – like dog walking, daycare, play dates, etc.
Even if you truly believe that your dog is a “house dog,” your veterinarian wants you to know that exercising your dog is one of the most important ways to keep your dog healthy.
3. Warning Signs For Serious Illnesses
Warning signs for serious illnesses aren’t always obvious. That’s why your veterinarian wants you to understand how to identify symptoms of illnesses, and how to act in an emergency situation.
For example, symptoms as simple as diarrhea or lethargy can be a sign of a life threatening illness. Bowel obstruction is one of the leading causes of fatalities in dogs, and often times, owners are not given much warning. If your dog is experiencing runny stools, vomiting, lethargy, or any ailments out of the ordinary, you should take him to see your veterinarian.
Even if you believe that your dog is “not feeling himself”, this could be a symptom of a life threatening sickness. It’s always “better to be safe than sorry”.
If you are concerned about your dog’s health or attitude, call your vet to ask if you should be concerned.
It is also important to understand that home remedies can only go so far!
4. When To Bring Your Dog To The Vet Or Specialist
As we mentioned before, warning signs for serious illnesses aren’t always obvious. That’s why you should always call your vet if you are concerned about your dog’s health. But when is it time to seek a specialist?
Just like human doctors, there are canine specialists as well. If your dog is experiencing a certain illness, needs special care, or has been experiencing an ailment for a long period of time, consulting a specialist is your best option.
“If your pet has a condition that isn’t improving, or requires testing or procedures beyond the scope of your veterinarian, consult a specialist.” – Dr. Mary Ann Crawford, Internal Medicine Specialist (Oradell Animal Hospital in Paramus, New Jersey)
Your veterinarian will usually refer you to a specialist if they feel further exploration is necessary, but it is always a good idea to research specialists in your area for reviews and information.
5. Annual Checkups Are A Must
Annual checkups for dogs are more important than annual checkups for humans. Though this may sound strange, the explanation is quite simple – your dog can’t tell you how he feels!
Even though we like to believe that we understand our dogs using their body language, and other forms of communication, there will be many times where your dog may not be able to communicate to you how he is feeling physically. Many ailments that affect dogs, minor or severe, are not physically noticeable, and may not have visible effects on your dog until much later. Certain forms of cancer are seemingly invisible to the average human, and tests are required to identify them.
Regardless of how healthy your dog may seem, taking him to the vet at least once per year is important, and strongly urged by veterinarians. Preventative health is the best way to ensure your dog lives a long time!
6. Dental Health Is Important
Dental health is important, and is often overlooked by dog owners.
Like humans, much of dogs’ health, and health related issues, revolve around their teeth. If a dog is suffering from dental health complications, this will affect every aspect of their overall health. Dogs rely on their mouths for most things – eating, drinking, communication, exploration, and panting. Poor dental health will affect your dog’s ability to perform daily tasks, and may prevent him from receiving proper nutrition. If his mouth hurts, he may not want to eat or drink.
Preventative care for dental health is very important. If left for too long, dogs may have to undergo extensive dental work later in life, which usually involves anesthetic. This causes other health related issues, and risk of heart failure.
Brushing your dog’s teeth regularly, and having your vet check your dog’s dental health annually will help prevent any dental related issues. Next time you book yourself a dentist appointment, book one for your dog too!
There are so many more things your vet wishes you knew! Next time you visit your veterinarian, be sure to ask questions and remain open to advice. They want what’s best for your dog!