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Besides going in for routine vet visits, how can you keep your furry family member healthy? After being pet parents for almost twenty years here are our tried and true: 5 Tips on Keeping Your Dog Healthy.
Being a pet parent is a lot of work, but like having kids, it’s so rewarding. I know that I love coming home to their wagging tails, after being gone for a few hours, or after I’ve left the room for ten minutes. Ha! Y’all with dogs, know that even the shortest time away can make them super excited.
It was about time Charlie (the poodle) and Gracie (the doxie) made another appearance here. They are an essential part of our family, and they deserve a post full of their photos every now and then. We’ve been pet parents for almost twenty years. <— that is crazy! In all that time, we’ve learned a lot on how to keep our furry family members in tip top shape, and I thought that I’d share those tips with y’all today. Here are our 5 Tips on Keeping Your Dog Healthy!
1.) My first tip is making sure that you are feeding your pet a quality dog food. There are so many brands on the market, and it can be hard to know which one is best for your furry friend. My advice is to always read the list of ingredients. Not all dog food is created equal, and a quick peek at the list of ingredients will show you just that. Charlie was on a pricey high end food from the time he was a puppy until we got Gracie. We of course wanted Gracie to be on that same food. However, after a few weeks she wasn’t having the easiest of times with it. After doing some research we gave a zero grain free dog food a try, because from the troubles she was having, she may have a gluten intolerance. I am not a veterinarian, I just did some research online, and gave something a try that fit her problems. It seemed to do the trick, because after just a few days she stopped having issues. I didn’t just jump head first into the new food though. I read the list of ingredients, I wanted to make sure that there weren’t any artificial colors, flavors, or meat by-products since these were all important to us. If you want to read more about our choice, you can find that here.
2.) Hydration is so important! Of course keeping your dogs water bowl full is just part of life, but that isn’t the only time you should be thinking about offering water to your pet. So many of us take our pets with us on road trips, to dog parks, hiking trails, etc. Yet, we don’t always think about the thirst of our dog. Chances are, if you are thirsty, they are too. We have a small canvas water bowl that we picked up at a local pet store to take with us whenever we have the dogs out and about. I like this type of bowl because it will easily squish down to fit into a pocket, and there is even a belt loop in case you’re wearing a belt. A carabiner would be great to add to it to clip it onto a backpack as well. When we hydrate, they hydrate.
3.) Training your dog is another important part of keeping them healthy. Dogs love to “work” for their family, and be obedient. Just by teaching your dog to sit, lay down, and stay they are going to love that you’re not only giving them attention, but that they are making you happy. When we first got Charlie, when he was just a puppy, we signed him up for obedience classes at PetSmart. He learned just about all the basic commands, and we learned how to properly train him. When we got Gracie we weren’t going to put her in classes, so we used all the techniques we learned to teach her. If you don’t have the money to sign them up for classes, you can easily find videos online that show you the proper ways to do it. Working with them several times a day, everyday will help them learn the command.
4.) Of course you can’t forget exercise! Walking your dog is a great exercise, but some dogs just have a lot of pent up energy that they need to burn off daily (like our Charlie,) and walks aren’t enough. One thing you can do, no matter if you have a yard or not, is playing fetch. We may have a big back yard, but to be honest, Charlie isn’t fond of playing fetch in the yard. He much prefers to play inside in our hallway.
Charlie will fetch anything you throw from balls and frisbees, to stuffed squeaky toys. Gracie is a little more picky, and prefers only fetching the frisbee. You may just have to figure out what your dog likes the best, and go with that. Now, not all dogs just know how to play fetch, but I’m gonna give you our tips and tricks that we learned in case your dog doesn’t instinctively know. First you want to choose a toy that your dog already likes. We found to teach the concept to Gracie, a squeaky toy was the way to go. (of course she’s picky now!) Now you are going to have to act excited, like this toy is the coolest thing ever, because you want the dog to go after it once it’s out of your hands. By the way, have treats handy (see number 5 of our tips), because you will need to teach them to “drop it” once they have it in their mouth. I don’t recommend snatching the toy from them.
OK, get ready, with the dog by your side, while you’re acting excited, toss the toy a few feet away. Don’t throw it too far, you’re going to have to likely fetch it yourself at first. Once you toss it, you will want to say a phrase or word to mark what’s fixing to happen (be sure to use the same word or words each time you play). We use “go get it.” So toss the toy, say “whatever you choose to say”, and then if your dog goes after it, great! Go reward her with a small treat, if she doesn’t pick it up, she did at least run to it, and that is important. You may have to do this step a few times, before the dog will actually pick up the toy. If the dog picks up the toy, awesome! Now grab that treat and offer it to her, we use the term “drop it”, and when they drop the toy, give her the treat. Repeat as many times as possible to get the concept behind running after the toy, picking it up, and dropping it. Once they get the run, pick it up, drop it concept, you are going to toss the toy, only this time, you aren’t going with them. You are going to stand, and call the dog back to you, super excitedly, after they have the toy in their mouth. Do drop it with a treat, and repeat the process. You have now taught your dog to fetch! It’s not hard, it literally just takes practice.
You can do this outside, or inside. Like I said, Charlie likes to play inside. You don’t need a large space, if you have a small dog, they will enjoy it just the same in one room, tossing or throwing the toy across the room.
5.) My last tip for you is the type of treats you give your pet. I like to think of treats as little snacks for our furbabies. We are always mindful of what we ourselves snack on, and should be mindful of what we are giving our pets to snack on as well. This is why we buy Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® Oven-Browned Chicken Sausage Bites and Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® Beef, Chicken & Bacon Meatball Morsels. Just like the food we feed them, we always make sure to read the ingredients in treats as well. These Nutrish Treats are made from U.S. farm-raised beef and/or chicken depending on which Nutrish Treats you buy, and you’ll always find one of those as the first ingredient. They are tasty real meat treats, and you’ll never find any artificial flavors, meat by-products, corn or wheat. They are safely cooked in the USA with the world’s best ingredients, and never any ingredients from China!
We love these treats that are inspired by Rachael’s kitchen, and they are perfect for all sizes of dogs. Since we have small dogs, we break them into two pieces for them. Sometimes Gracie scarfs hers down, and will try and steal Charlies right from his mouth! If we are in training mode, we break them into even smaller pieces for their reward.
We shop for our Nutrish Treats at Target, we just grab them while we are grocery shopping. Right now in our store they are located on the end cap in front of the pet aisles. They are also available at several locations, including online retailers. For a list of places you can purchase, check out where to buy. Right now you can grab a coupon to help with your purchase!