OCTOBER IS NATIONAL PET WELLNESS MONTH
It's only natural that you want to take care of your Greyhound so he'll be by your side for years. And it’ll come as no surprise that the same things that help us to thrive also help our pups to live long, enjoyable lives. These include a good diet, plenty of exercise, preventive medical care and a loving environment. Here are some good ways to keep your dog healthy and happy:
A well-nourished dog makes for a happy one. While our pets may be family members, they are not people when it comes to food and their special needs, so table scraps are never a good idea. Many commercial dog foods are formulated based on the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), but make sure the dog food you choose adheres to these standards perfectly. Opt for high-quality ingredients and fewer preservatives: choosing a high quality food for your dog is your best bet for optimum health. If you prefer a home-prepared diet, talk to your vet and make sure your pup has the best diet for them, and includes all necessary nutrients.
A sudden change in dog foods can cause diarrhea or even vomiting, so switch over gradually unless otherwise directed by your vet. Once you choose a diet, watch your dog’s response to it over the next four to eight weeks. If your dog's response to the diet is poor, it may be time to look into other foods.
EXERCISE BODY & MIND
Regular exercise keeps the animal's muscles, tendons, and bones strong. It also provides a measure of mental stimulation. Exercise burns calories directly and also can provide a boost to the metabolic rate that lasts for hours after the dog has stopped to rest. In addition to exercise, make sure you're giving your dog plenty of enrichment to stimulate their brain. For instance, teach them to solve puzzles and do tricks, or practice agility and obedience. Here are some games for mental stimulation.
There's another benefit: it may also help to reduce tendencies toward behavior problems. A bored dog with excess energy can act out, often with destructive behavior. This may lead to a diagnosis of separation anxiety or another behavioral problem. In some cases, the undesired behavior is actually the result of an energy surplus and not a true behavioral condition. Spend some time exercising with your dog -- walking, playing, and enjoying the outdoors. It will do you both a world of good!
FIND A VETERINARIAN YOU TRUST
One way to give your dog the best health possible is with regular visits to a doctor. Not sure how to find a Greyhound-savvy vet? You can apply most of the same methods when researching and determining who will provide regular care to your dog. Tap your network to find who your friends and family use to treat their pups. Social media and adoption groups’ chat/email = greyt resources of information. Observe how your dog reacts to the vet and the doctor’s bedside manner. Once you find a doctor you and your dog like, don’t miss an annual visit (seniors benefit from two visits a year). Regular exams can help detect cancers, diseases, and other issues early on. Early detection leads to simpler, less costly treatments and higher rates of survival. If you’re behind on vet visits, schedule a comprehensive wellness exam today.
If your dog is afraid of the vet’s office, check out this article: My Dog is Afraid of the Vet
Dental care is an important part of pet wellness and proper dental care can extend your dog's life. Some pets will tolerate brushing their teeth, which can be quite helpful, but be sure to use toothpaste that has been cleared for dogs. Some human toothpastes can be very toxic. Watch for excessive tartar, abnormal gums (reddened or bloody) or loose teeth. Unchecked dental disease can lead to kidney problems, painful periodontal disease or nutritional problems if the pet cannot chew normally. If you see signs of oral disease, it's time for professional help from your veterinarian.
Grooming is an important part of wellness, so groom your dog regularly. Brush your dog's coat to keep it shiny and healthy. This will also encourage good circulation. Note any new lumps, bumps, or cysts on the skin and bring them to your veterinarian’s attention. Scabs, redness, or itchy skin should also be addressed by a veterinarian.
Bathing too frequently will dry out a dog's skin, so unless your Greyhound has rolled in something smelly or gotten very dirty in some other way, a bath every six months should be sufficient if you're brushing your pet regularly.
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Many dog parents are intimidated at the thought of clipping a dog's nails, but overgrowth can be uncomfortable for your pet. If you can hear the "click" as your dog crosses the floor, the nails are probably too long.
Clip or grind your dog's nails only if you know how. While it may take a little time for your dog to get used to, clipping the nails can become a routine part of grooming. Just be careful not to cut the "quick," the part of the nail that contains sensitive blood vessels and nerves. This is impossible to see if the dogs nails are black and he will need the vet tech to do it. If you aren’t sure how to clip the nails, have your veterinarian technician show you how to clip your dog's nails. Using a dremel type tool to grind the nails makes this a little easier.
Clean ears feel good to your dog and are important for preventing ear infections. Examining the outside of the ears also alerts you to the presence of wood ticks, fleas, or anything unusual. To clean your dog's ears, use a cotton ball, piece of gauze, or a baby wipe with an ear-cleaning solution or use a solution of half white vinegar and half rubbing alcohol-- water won't work because it evaporates too quickly. Wipe the inside surface of the ear, going down only as far as your finger easily fits. Never force it, and don't use a Q-tip or put anything else further down the ear canal that could cause a painful injury. Shaking the head excessively, scratching or pawing at the ear, odor, or discharge (waxy, fluid, or brown) is not normal. If you think your dog has an ear infection or other ear problem, take him to the vet.
Happiness is an important component in your dog's overall wellness, so don't underestimate the benefit of spending time with your best canine friend. Left alone without companionship or mental stimulation, animals can become depressed, act out in destructive ways, or even become lethargic.
Your pet is a family member. Interact with them -- talking, walking, playing together, petting, and giving the affection and attention they so deserve. Your dog will benefit and reward you with unconditional love.
Our job as good pet parents is to make sure we monitor our dog’s health, keep them clean, get them adequate training/exercise, and feed them properly. And whether you’re dealing with a newly adopted puppy or a senior dog, regular vet visits and wellness exams should be scheduled to get important information about your pet’s health, as well as to detect any illness in its early stages.
Overall, it all boils down to YOU, its beloved mum or dad/caretaker, to maintain and keep doing the things that will set your dog up for success. A happy environment that only you can provide will help keep your pet in good mental health as well. Let National Pet Wellness Month be a reminder to give our dogs the extra love they need.