You’ve probably heard people say that owning a dog saved their life. It’s true – owning a dog is an incredibly rewarding experience and can literally be life-saving. Dogs can be extremely affectionate and are great at reducing stress, anxiety, and even PTSD symptoms.
According to research published by Medical News Today, dog owners have a lower risk of heart disease, and owning a dog can reduce the risk of premature death by one-third.
While owning a dog can significantly improve your health, it’s important to keep them physically and mentally healthy. However, canine health isn’t always intuitive. Dogs have specific needs in terms of nutrition, grooming, and playtime.
What do dogs need to stay healthy?
Dogs need a variety of things to stay healthy, including food, water, exercise, playtime, and rest. While some of these might seem easy to manage, there are nuances you should be aware of to maximize your pup’s health.
- Food. Food is your dog’s main source of nutrition, and it’s critical to get the right food for your pup’s needs. If your dog has special dietary needs, you can find some of the best dog food brands online with flavor options that you’d have to special order in the stores.For example, limited ingredient flavors that cater to dogs with allergies are sometimes hard to find in the big stores. The limited ingredient turkey recipe from Stella & Chewy, for instance, isn’t popular enough for most big chains to carry. However, you can usually find this and other limited ingredient flavors online.Whole-prey foods are the best option since your dog will get the entire animal, including the organs and bones. However, if you can’t find whole-prey food your dog likes, you can always get freeze-dried organ meat toppers.
- Water. Obviously, your dog needs fresh water. However, they need more than a full bowl of water to thrive. Your pet’s water dish will accumulate slobber and slime over a short period of time. Sometimes that slime will be black. You don’t want your dog to ingest that slime.Keep your dog in good health by changing their water and washing their water dish every week.
- Exercise. Regular exercise is important for dogs of all sizes. If your dog is tiny, it can probably get enough exercise just by running around the house, chasing toys, or playing with you. However, if your dog is not a toy breed, you’ll need to provide them with plenty of exercise throughout the day.If you have a yard for your dog to run around in, they can exercise themselves. Otherwise, you’ll need to take them for at least one walk every day. Regular visits to the dog park are also a great way to let your dog exercise.If you need exercise, having a goldendoodle dog is a great excuse to get yourself moving! The average dog owner spends around 300 minutes each week walking their dogs.
- Playtime. Dogs need to play, whether they play with toys, you, or other dogs. Some dogs aren’t into toys, but do really well with dog puzzles. There are plenty of toys on the market designed to stimulate your dog’s brain, provide treats as a reward, and keep them busy. Some toys can double as meal dispensers to force your dog to eat slowly. Playtime is important. If you can’t get your dog to play with other dogs or toys, try taking them outside and running around until they chase you. You might have to get down on your hands and knees and act like a dog to get them going, but if you can get your dog to play, it’s worth the potential embarrassment.
- Rest. Rest plays a key role in your dog’s health and wellbeing. Dogs don’t need as much rest as humans need, but they do require a safe, secure, and dark sleeping space. It’s always tempting to let your dog sleep with you, but you’ll both get better sleep when they have their own bed.
Dogs generally enjoy sleeping in crates, especially when they’ve been trained from a young age to sleep inside of a crate. Dogs feel safe in small, dark spaces.
If you have your dog sleep in a crate, you can still have a sleepover on the weekends to let your dog sleep in your bed.
Your dog deserves the best health
You and your dog are a team – they deserve to be in the best health possible. Your dog depends on you for everything, so make sure to give them everything they need to live a long, happy, healthy life.