Having a new dog in your home brings happiness, as well as a host of responsibilities for their wellbeing. Be sure you know the key health tips that will keep your dog in the best condition and on track for a long life...
Vaccinations are vital to protect your pet from a range of potentially fatal diseases that are highly contagious in dogs.
Ideally, these should have been given at eight and 10 weeks old. Your dog will also require a booster every 12 months after the first injections to maintain immunity levels – and for your insurance too. If you are unsure of your new dog’s vaccine record or which vaccines they need, you should consult your vet.
Parasite control against fleas and worms will also need to be done regularly. Read our guide to treating parasites.
Get into good dental routines now to help maintain strong, healthy teeth and prevent painful gum inflammation, tooth loss and infections.
Ideally, brush daily after your dog has eaten, using a small bristle brush to suit the size of his or her mouth. Brush in a circular motion at a 45-degree angle towards the gumline, starting with the side teeth and working towards the front. Read our guide to cleaning teeth.
Use a toothpaste specifically for dogs that they can lick first to become accustomed to it. Talk calmly to them as you brush. Reward your pet with a small, healthy treat afterwards.
And finally, remember to book an annual dental checkup so that the vet can keep an eye on the health of your dog’s teeth and gums, and you’ll need this for your insurance too.
Ensuring a good diet
A correctly balanced diet that meets the nutritional and calorific requirements of your dog’s life stage (age and size for breed) is vital. He or she will develop and maintain strong soft and bony tissues, and a good diet will ensure your dog’s energy levels and general wellbeing now, and in later years.
Ask your vet for recommendations, and follow the portion size information on the packaging. You may have to adjust this if your dog starts to put on too much weight.
A healthy weight
Keep track of the healthy weight for your dog by using body-condition scoring – you should be able to feel your dog’s ribs and see their waist. Carrying too much weight can lead to problems such as arthritis or diabetes.
Be careful with treats – they can easily exceed your dog’s recommended calorific intake. Instead keep treats small and healthy – a small piece of carrot or apple is perfect. Or reward with attention instead of food.
Daily exercise is imperative for your dog’s health and wellbeing. It helps keep weight stable, maintain strong, healthy cardiovascular and immune systems and builds energy levels.
Make it interesting and varied, changing your walking route and pattern regularly. Include high-energy fetch-and-chase games and set out before your dog has eaten, not after.
Little and often is preferable for older dogs – around 30 minutes’ exercise, two to three times a day. This will keep them fit while avoiding causing joint damage.
The importance of neutering
It’s never too late to neuter your dog, so check with your vet if you’re not sure whether this has been done. Ideally, female dogs are neutered (spayed) at around six months old, while male dogs can be neutered (castrated) any time from six months, but it can always be done later.
Neutering females can prevent:
- Breast cancer.
- Womb infections.
- Bleeding when she is in season.
- Attention from male dogs.
- Unwanted pregnancies.
For males it can reduce:
- The risk of diseases such as testicular cancer and prostrate disease.
- The urge to roam.
- Aggressive behavior.
- The habit of urine-marking.
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