Healthy Habits for Dogs and Their Owners

Dogs are the lights of their owners’ lives. And keeping our puppies healthy is key to extending the warmth and love for years.

Dr. Ernie Ward, nationally renowned veterinarian, pet author and founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, offers his ‘Top 5 Healthy Habits’ for dog owners to help ensure their dogs stay happy and healthy throughout the year:

Healthy Eats and Treats

The most important decision you make each day regarding your dogs health is what you feed them. When choosing dog food, look for meat as one of the first few ingredients, and avoid by-products, artificial flavors, colors and preservatives whenever possible.

When it comes to treats, look for low-calorie options that provide health benefits. Treats that help maintain healthy joints, clean teeth, skin/coat health and multivitamins are recommended. If you’re going to give treats, make them count!

Brain Boosters

Most people love puzzles — and so does your pet! One of the best ways to feed and treat pets is with a food puzzle. These clever devices hide your pet’s food or treats until they unlock the secret to get to their goodies.

These tools engage your pet’s brain and help with boredom while you’re away. An alternative to peanut butter-stuffed toys; these toys stimulate thought and don’t pack on the pounds!

Power Play

Walking your dog and playing with him or her each day keeps them trim, healthy and mentally alert. Dogs that don’t receive enough physical activity have the highest rates of weight-related diseases such as obesity, arthritis, diabetes and often have behavioral problems due to having too much pent up energy.

For dogs, 20 to 30 minutes of brisk walking each day benefits both ends of the leash. Don’t worry! Walking with your dog can be fun! It not only provides exercise for you and your pup but nurtures the bond between you and your dog.

Paws Together

It’s more fun to play with other dogs! Socialized dogs are simply better behaved and more fun. Visit a dog park, take them to a doggie day care, enroll in training classes or become active in serving your community. There are endless ways to get you and your dog to interact with other pet lovers. Share the fun and join a new pack!

Dogs and Vets

Somehow Dog owners started believing that the only time you need to go to the vet is when something is wrong with your pet. The secret to a long and healthy life is routine vet visits even when everything appears fine.

A pet owner’s primary goal should be to prevent disease, not only treat it. Changes in diet or lifestyle, giving nutritional supplements and exercising more are straight forward solutions. Your veterinarian is your pet’s voice; let them speak for your pet by visiting once or twice a year for puppies and 2-3 times yearly for senior dogs over the age of seven.

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