It's not surprising that the three most important factors in maintaining health in dogs are also applicable to their owners. Dogs' lifestyles are essentially guided and controlled by their owners, who transfer both good and bad aspects of their lifestyle to their canine charges.
Diet, activity level, and access to quality health care are the basic determinants of a healthy lifestyle for both dogs and their owners.
Diet is one of the factors in which dogs most emulate their owners. The quality and quantity of food consumed by a dog will often resemble the food choices of the owner. Unfortunately, dogs cannot choose the food that they consume. They also lack the discipline to stop eating when an overabundance of food is available to them.
The growing obesity epidemic in humans is being mirrored in their canine companions. Loving but misguided pet owners who often have issues with food themselves provide unlimited access to dry food to their dogs in addition to regular meals. Dogs are also provided with various types of canine snacks as well as food shared from their owner's meals or snacks.
Even mild cases of obesity in dogs can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, hip and leg problems, and various other maladies.
Quantity of Food
The recommendations for the daily food consumption for dogs is on the food container. It is based on body weight, but activity level may also come into play, so the quantity can vary slightly according to a dog's age and lifestyle.
However, leaving unattended food for a dog to eat between meals is not a good idea. Dogs will eat from boredom or just because the food is there. Reserve snacks for small rewards and share table scraps sparingly.
Quality of Food
Many commercial dog foods are loaded with excessive amounts of fillers such as rice and corn that can promote obesity and diabetes as well as expose some dogs to food allergies. It's important to understand the link between high-quality dog food and canine health, and the additional expense associated with healthy options, before deciding to bring a dog into your home.
Check the labels, read the reviews, and ask your veterinarian for recommendations before choosing a brand of food for your pet.
Dogs aren't people, and they shouldn't share food with their owners. Chocolate, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, grapes and raisins, and other foodstuffs consumed by humans can be deadly for dogs.
Regular exercise is essential to a dog's physical and mental health. Sedentary lifestyles promote obesity and the health problems with which it is linked, with low activity levels accentuating mobility and other health issues. Boredom from low activity levels can also contribute to overeating as well as behavioral issues.
Activity levels for dogs should commensurate with their age and physical condition. Consult a veterinarian before beginning any activity that might aggravate an existing health issue. Just as in humans, physical activity at any level provides both physical and psychological benefits.
Regular checkups are an important component in keeping dogs healthy, yet many owners will only visit a veterinary clinic when a dog is already sick or injured. Annual physical exams are important for preventing illness or treating it at early stages for greater success.
It's also crucial to keep dogs' vaccinations up to date with new vaccines or booster shots required to boost the efficacy of previously administered vaccines. Dogs can also be examined and treated for skin and intestinal parasites, which can be troublesome for both dogs and their human family members.
Many dog owners treat their pets as their children, which is often a double edged sword considering the rates of childhood obesity and type-2 diabetes. Responsible dog ownership involves maintaining a healthy lifestyle for the dog, whether or not it matches the owner's own lifestyle.
Dog owners in the Hayward, California area can count on Alta Vista Veterinary Clinic to be their partner in keeping the dogs happy and healthy through wise lifestyle choices and quality health care. Contact us today to schedule your pet for their yearly appointment.