Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I have often wondered how to thank my dogs for all they give to me — and you probably have the same thought. How can we really show or tell our dogs how much we care for them? I think the answer is simple — it’s by how we care for them every day.
Lately I’ve been trying to find clear ways to explain my dog health beliefs and practices. And I have come up with some “rules”, which clients and students are finding very helpful. I believe these rules can help you have a happier, healthier dog, who is more resistant to disease, and can live a fuller life. Follow the rules, and increase the quality of life for you and your dog. Don’t follow them, and take your chances…
1. Feed your dog food that is fit for human consumption. (Note: This excludes virtually every commercial dog food! Yes, you should be feeding your dog “people food”, or as I call, it real whole food, in a considered and thoughtful way!)
2. Use a variety of foods. Face it, nobody should eat chicken for 30 days straight!
3. Give core supplements, which include a vitamin and mineral supplement, probiotic, and salmon oil on a regular basis. Start joint support supplements in any active or large breed dog by the age of 12 months.
4. Evaluate your dog’s body condition weekly. Adjust what you are feeding accordingly.
5. Keep you dog mentally and physically active. Do whatever training you enjoy to engage their mind, and some fun exercise for their body. (Stupid pet tricks count!) Expose them to new environments, people, and suitable dogs.
6. Stop giving unnecessary and potentially harmful vaccinations! Utilize titer testing if in doubt. Most dogs will not need a distemper vaccination after their first adult vaccine, typically given around 15 months of age. Allow me to reiterate — do not give your dog yearly vaccinations!
7. Use harsh chemicals such as flea and tick products only when absolutely necessary. Use heartworm preventative seasonally.
8. Bathe and groom frequently, and use those sessions to observe every inch of your dog’s body for abnormalities. Most dogs would benefit from monthly bathing, nail trims, etc.
9. Should a serious health condition arise, get at least two opinions. The second opinion should be that of a boarded specialist. You may also choose to consult an alternative medicine practitioner. Beyond the true emergency situation, there is always time to think and ask questions of many experts.
10. Take a few minutes each day to share with your dog. Make it a part of your schedule — play games in the yard, sit and watch a movie, go for a walk, whatever fits the day. Find the joy in each other. Even just five minutes of playing with your dog can put a smile on both of your faces.
Today, I am thankful for all the people and dogs who are part of my life, and all that they teach me.