The average lifespan for a domesticated dog if 10-13 years. While there are a number of factors that can affect the lifespan of a dog, such as breed, pre-existing conditions, and size, for the most part, dogs will live longer if they live a healthier life, just like humans.
The occasional table scrap here and there isn’t going to ruin your dog’s health, just as long as you are doing other things to make sure their health is in check.
And this means more than just taking your dog to the vet once a year.
So, just what do you need to do to improve the health of your dog so they can live a long and happy life?
Read on to learn the top easy ways to improve your dog’s health.
1. Schedule Daily Walks
You know how exercise helps to boost both your mental and physical health? Well, the same thing goes for dogs.
Walking is the best way to keep your dog in shape, and it’s as easy as strapping on a leash and taking a few laps around the block to get your dog the workout they need. By walking your dog on a regular basis, you help to:
- Lower their risk of obesity
- Improve their cardiovascular health
- Lower their risk of liver disease and osteoarthritis
- Build up insulin resistance
Plus, it’s no secret that walking a dog can make it very happy. Your dog loves being stimulated by new sights and smells, and they’ll definitely show it through their wagging tail and a big smile.
Also, let’s not forget that owners also benefit from walking their dogs. Studies show that dog walking helps to reduce stress and high blood pressure. Plus, walking, in general, is good for your overall health.
In general, you should aim to walk your dog for 30 minutes, 5 times a week. And, make sure you bring fresh water along with you on the walk for both you and your pup.
2. Keep Your Dog On a Schedule
Believe it or not, dogs actually love routine. Dogs are very smart creatures, and when they’re on a schedule, they have a higher sense of comfort and security.
Of course, life is going to get in the way and your dog isn’t always going to be on the same schedule. But in general, you should try to wake up around the same time every day and start it with a walk with your dog.
If you don’t have a lot of time in the morning, even a 10-15 minute walk will do. You should also try to let them out at the same time every day to go to the bathroom, feed them at the same time, give medication at the same time, and play with them at the same time.
The more of a routine your dog is on, the happier and healthier they will be.
3. Treat Your Dog to a Spa Day
Just like humans, dogs also love to be pampered, and they like to keep up with their hygiene (of course, partly because they want to look good for the other dogs at the dog park).
To keep your dog feeling pampered and hygienic, you should do the following:
Oral disease is the number one medical condition among both cats and dogs.
To keep your dog’s pearly whites shining bright, you should brush their teeth a few times a week. If your dog is not used to having a toothbrush in their mouth, start by using a gloved finger.
Once they get used to the sensation, you can move onto using a dog toothbrush. Also, make sure you choose a toothpaste that is specially formulated for dogs. Never use human toothpaste, as it contains fluoride, which is poisonous to dogs. Plus, pet toothpaste comes in special flavors that they’ll love, like chicken and fish.
You should also try to give your pup soft toys to chew on, as this can help to clean out little bits of food.
Another great trick is to put dog mouthwash in their water bowl every once in a while. Dog mouthwash can help to remove bacteria and plaque and improve gum health.
Dog acupuncture may sound like an extreme form of puppy pampering, but acupuncture can actually be super beneficial to your dog’s health.
Acupuncture can help your dog with skin problems, respiratory problems, and musculoskeletal problems. Click here to learn more about veterinary acupuncture.
It’s also very important that you brush your dog’s coat on a regular basis. Not only will this keep your dog looking fresh, but it will also help to promote circulation.
Plus, brushing your dog’s coat is a great way to keep an eye out for bumps, lumps, scabs, and cysts. If you notice anything unusual on your dog’s skin, then you should get in contact with your vet.
While grooming your dog, you should also check for fleas, ticks, and mites.
4. Keep Your Dog On a Healthy Diet
One of the best things you can do for your dog to ensure they live a long life is to keep them on a healthy diet.
For starters, you should avoid feeding your dog human food as much as possible. We know it’s hard to turn down those puppy eyes, but trust us, human food can wreak some serious havoc on your dog’s health, especially if it’s processed food.
In fact, certain human foods can actually kill your dog. These include:
- Yeast Dough
That being said, dogs can handle some types of human food. But, you should make sure to only give these foods to your pup as treats and in small amounts. Human foods that your dog can handle include:
- Cooked sweet potatoes
- Canned green beans
- Canned peas
- Baby carrots
When it comes to actual dog food, it can be difficult to figure out what to buy for your dog. After all, there are thousands and thousands of different dog food brands out there. How do you know which one is best?
In general, you’ll want to look at the first five ingredients listed on the dog food to gauge whether or not it’s a healthy choice. The first few ingredients should be meat (not meat by-products) and vegetables. Lower down the list should be grains.
Ingredients to avoid in dog food include:
- Corn Syrup
- Animal By-Products
- Propylene Glycol
Also, be aware that your dog may have a food sensitivity or allergy. After trying out new dog food, make sure to watch out for vomiting, diarrhea, and skin conditions.
Also, make sure that your pup always has a supply of fresh water.
To make sure that your dog’s diet is going well, you should try to weigh your dog on a frequent basis. Weight gain may suggest that you need to feed them less, or that you need to switch them to a healthier dog food.
5. Mental Stimulation
When we talk about a dog’s health, we often tend to focus solely on their physical health.
However, their mental health is just as important. We already talked about how walking can boost your dog’s mental health, but there’s more you should be doing.
As we said earlier, dogs are very smart creatures. This means that they need to be mentally stimulated on a consistent basis. If they’re not, then they may start displaying aggressive and destructive behaviors, such as biting or chewing on furniture.
To stimulate your dog’s mental health, you can:
- Build mazes for them to crawl through
- Use a food-dispensing toy so that your dog has to work for their food
- Allow your dog to sniff and explore on walks
- Get your dog an interactive puzzle toy
- Teach your dog new tricks
- Play some nose work games with your dog
- Teach your dog commands in another language
- Play interactive games with your dog, such as tug or fetch
6. Take Your Dog in For an Annual Check-Up
Last but not least, make sure you take your dog in for an annual check-up with their vet.
Even if your dog appears to be in great health, an annual check-up is still important.
There are so many health issues with dogs that can completely slip under the radar, and the only way to catch them is to take them to the vet so the appropriate tests can be performed.
So, there you have it. These are the best ways to improve the health of your dog! If you have any questions about improving your dog’s health, please comment below.