Keeping Your Dog Healthy

Important though it is, a balanced diet is just one aspect of caring for your dog's all-round health and happiness. Just as essential are good early education and training to prevent the development of behavior problems in the adult dog, the regular provision of strenuous daily exercise, and plenty of mental stimulation in the form of activity toys and interrelating games.

As a responsible owner, you should take your adult dog once a year to the animal hospital to receive its booster shots against the major infectious diseases. It is usual at this annual visit to have your pet thoroughly examined by the vet, to have it weighed, and its health records updated. Take this opportunity to raise any concerns you may have regarding your dog's development and behavior. Your vet will be happy to give advice on general health matters such as effective parasite prevention, neutering, mating, and breeding.

How Much Exercise?

The key to canine fitness is exercise. It's also good for the owner and can often be combined with an activity such as jogging. Ideally, your dog should have two or three walks a day, one of which should last at least 30 minutes. Allow some time for your dog to run off the leash, if you can. It will benefit from the freedom to explore and will travel three to four times farther than you do. But only do this if you are certain of being able to recall your dog on command, and if the park or open country is free of dangers and distractions such as cars, animals, children, joggers, bicyclers, and ball players.

Some breeds of dogs have higher activity levels than others and will become difficult to live with if their exercise is neglected. Medium-to-large dogs like Border Collies, Boxers, and Dalmatians fall into this category, but size is not always a guide to the amount of activity needed. A small energetic breed like a Jack Russell requires more exercise than a large but lazy Great Dane.

Routine Needs of an Adult Dog

  • Plenty of exercise. Most healthy dogs require two or three walks every day.
  • A balanced diet.
  • Fresh, clean water always available — make sure the bowl isn't empty, especially in warm weather.
  • Regular grooming, taking care to check for sore places, lumps, and bald patches.
  • An annual visit to the vet for booster vaccinations and an overall examination. Regular preventive treatment against parasites.
  • Companionship. A dog, especially a young one, should not be left alone for long periods.
  • A bed of its own, where it can be quiet during the day and sleep at night.

How can I tell if my dog is unwell or in pain?
As a general rule, dogs hide their pain better than humans. If your dog seems unusually restless, or is depressed and lethargic and has a “hangdog” expression, with ears and tail down, you should suspect something is wrong.

How are deworming tablets given?
Nearly always as tablets that can be crushed up and mixed with food. It can be difficult to get dogs to swallow tablets or capsules whole. One way of doing so is to coat the tablet with butter, which disguises the smell, and which most dogs like.

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