You love your dog and want to give her the best life possible. Good news! Amazing advances in veterinary medicine are making it possible for dogs to live longer, healthier lives than ever before. The quality of your dog’s health is the result of a partnership between you and your veterinarian.
When you first get your dog, be sure to have your veterinarian examine her within 10 days. In addition to getting baseline weights and measurements on her, your vet will want to check her blood and stools for illness and parasites. If you have never had a dog before-or at least within the last five years-this first visit is a good time to get an education in modern pet care. If you ask, your vet will be glad to give a demonstration in cleaning your pet’s ears and clipping her toenails properly.
A proper diet and sufficient exercise are key factors in keeping your dog healthy. You must make sure the food you give your dog is of good quality to provide her with the correct amounts of nutrients to keep her systems running. If you are confused by the variety of brands of dog food available, ask your veterinarian for some help. Don’t be embarrassed to tell him how much you are able/willing to spend for pet food. There are some excellent brands that are not very expensive, and some expensive brands that are not very good.
Exercise not only keeps your dog’s weight under control, it strengthens her muscles and enhances her immune system, and prevents many destructive behaviors. Some dogs are naturally active. Others need anywhere from a little to a lot of encouragement from you to get moving. If your dog seems to lean toward “couch potato,” you must take control. Set aside some dedicated time for activity each day with your dog, and she’ll be more inclined to get physical.
Yearly “well-dog” appointments with your veterinarian help track your dog’s health. A thorough going-over under the vet’s expert eye can catch early skin or eye conditions and other physical changes that you might not notice on a day-to-day basis. Blood and stool samples allows your vet to diagnose and treat disease and parasites before they reach a critical state.
The yearly vet visit is also a good time to mention any “strange habits” your dog may have developed over the last year. Often, these have simple explanations, but some behaviors, such as licking paint or eating strange substances can indicate a medical condition.
One of the most important aspects of the yearly vet visit is updating your dog’s vaccinations. These are not only required by law in many areas, they can literally save your dog’s life.
The process for selecting a veterinarian is very much like choosing your own personal physician. You want to find a doctor that you feel comfortable talking with, someone who encourages all of your questions and supports you in all the health care choices you make on your dog’s behalf.