There are several things we need to focus on in order to bring our dogs to optimum health. While we cannot cure all disease and prevent any sickness or injury, we can absolutely strengthen our dogs' bodies and give them everything they need to fight off illness, ward off disease and prolong their precious lives as a beloved member of our family.
There are several things we must focus on in order to create balance in health and wellness. By addressing all of these things, we provide our dogs with the opportunity to thrive.
Diet and nutrition is the key to nourishing the body, providing the utmost bio-availability of nutrients on which our dogs can thrive. When we feed our dogs every day, we put food into their bodies meant to nourish and fuel them. Food helps living things grow and survive and a high quality species-appropriate diet can mean the difference between sickness and health. If we feed our dogs a poor quality diet that their bodies are not designed to thrive on, they will become weak and susceptible to sickness and disease.
A raw food diet for dogs is the most nourishing, species appropriate diet we can offer to our dogs. If you are unable to feed raw, the second best option is a homemade diet for dogs. Next in line is grain-free, high protein, whole food kibble. The following links will provide you with the in-depth knowledge I have to share on the topics of raw feeding, homemade diets and high quality commercial kibble diets:
- The Incredible Raw Food Diet for Dogs
- Dogs and Wolves: Why dogs are designed to eat raw!
- Raw Feeding Frequently Asked Questions
- A Guide to Raw Feeding eBook
- The Best Dog Foods
- Homemade Dog Food Diet Recipe eBook
Provide only wholesome treats and snacks for your dog. Read the ingredient list on the back of treat packaging and be aware of where the ingredients are sourced from and where the treats are made. Read this article to learn more about selecting the right dog treats for your dog: How to choose healthy treats for your dog! Also consider making your own homemade treat recipes! I provide many healthy, easy and inexpensive treat recipes here on my blog under the "homemade treat" category!
Supplements are another excellent way to provide extra nutrition. While they are not necessary, they can provide a fantastic nutritional boost and target key problems that could occur in your dog. For example, supplementing your large breed dog with a joint supplement such as glucosamine can help prevent or alleviate joint issues at any point in the dogs' life. A multivitamin such as Nupro Gold, Solid Gold Seameal or Carmspack's Feed-sentials can promote overall general health.
There are several things you can do to help prevent disease and illness in your pet, all of which are simple concepts to implement into your dogs' healthcare.
The first thing is to attend your dogs' annual veterinarian check-ups, allowing a general examination to be done yearly to be vigilant over your dogs' health. When you allow a veterinarian to examine your dog yearly, your veterinarian can establish what is normal for your dog so that if problems arise they have a foundation to work with!
A minimal vaccine schedule is an excellent way to prevent bombarding your dogs with toxic substances, harsh chemicals and potentially useless anti-bodies that will overstimulate and greatly stress your dogs' immune system. Studies show that immunity from vaccines can last anywhere from 3-7 years for pets, sometimes longer, and giving your dog vaccine boosters annually is both unnecessary and potentially dangerous. The minimal vaccine protocol established by the highly reputable Dr. Jane Dodd includes vaccinating ONLY for parvovirus, distemper and rabies. After the initial set of puppy vaccinations for only those three diseases, dogs should be titered every three years to check levels of immunity in the body before making the decision to re-vaccinate.
Heartworm treatment and flea and parasite preventive/removers are harsh pesticides that veterinarians recommend be administered every month. There are two important things to understand about those monthly pills or topical treatments: The first thing is that these are pesticides your dog is ingesting monthly, while they can prevent parasites they work by effectively killing parasites, whether or not it is or isn't present in the animal's body, at every dose. This is very, very hard on the dogs' body and the chemicals present in the treatment are not exactly supportive of health in our dogs. The second thing to remember is that the heartworm/flea industry is a multi-billion dollar industry - reality is that they may not have your pet's true well-being at heart. It is important to do your own research, determine if your area has a high incident of heartworm, and use these treatments at your discretion. Many treatments don't need to be used every month, but can be extended to every other month. Use all-natural treatments where you can and just be aware of what is going into your pets' body. Voice your concerns with your veterinarian and bring research and an informed opinion to the table when it is time to discuss it.
When it comes to vaccines, heartworm treatment, and parasite prevention you should do your research, decide what will work for your lifestyle, your dog and your budget - then make informed decisions on whether or not to use any of the methods of prevention. The important thing is to be informed about what is done to your pet.
Exercise will help keep your pet in good physical condition, while promoting mental stimulation and happiness. There are many different activities you can enjoy with your pet to keep them fit, help energize the body, drain energy and promote emotional wellness.
Consider long walks, running or jogging, bicycling, trail hiking, or off leash hiking (only in appropriate areas, and only if your dog has good obedience and will come when called!).
Dog sports and training such as obedience, agility, flyball, dock diving, herding, Schutzhund/IPO, tracking and rally-o are fantastic ways to stimulate your dog's body and mind, while creating a strong bond between dog and handler. Giving your dog a "job" or "sport" to do will be very fulfilling you both you and your best furry friend!
Simply including your dogs in your everyday activities, especially with the family, can provide your dog with the love and enjoyment that will nourish their spirit.
You can influence your dogs' health substantially by providing proper nutrition, being an active and informed advocate in their health care and by providing healthy exercise and mental stimulation. Let's not forget love and companionship... the greatest gift we can give the dogs who give us all of their unconditional love is to welcome them into our homes to enjoy the warmth, comfort and happiness of our family.
Please do your research and never stop learning. Cross reference information and ask questions!
If you have any questions, are seeking guidance, or would like to schedule a nutritional consultation with me please visit my contact me page or click here to e-mail me.