Top 10 Tips to Keep Best Friends Happy and Healthy

Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on Sep 29 2011

Last week was National Dog Week – a week that definitely went to the dogs! Since we already talked about how to make cats happy in the post on Happy Cat Month, I thought it was only fair to address how to increase the happiness level in our dogs, too (who we all know really do need more than just a week for celebrating!)

We all know how happy dogs can make us, and unlike some cats, dogs seem to show their joy quite readily. Big, happy smiles and wagging tails will bring a smile to your face and brighten your day. Consider the following tips a Top 10 “wish list” for keeping your best friend as happy as possible!

10. Food, water and shelter. These are the basics, folks. Allow access to fresh water and feed a good quality diet. Feed the right amount of food to keep your dog trim. Ask your veterinarian for guidance. If your dog spends a lot of time playing outdoors, make sure there is proper shelter from the elements.

9. Regular trips to the vet. Physical exams help your vet stay on top of your pet’s health.

8. Identification. Proper ID is key to the return of your dog if she gets lost. A collar with a name tag is good, but a collar AND a microchip is best.

7. Proper grooming. You may have a low maintenance dog who requires very little grooming, but if you have a breed of dog that needs grooming, be sure to stay on top of it. Shaggy hair can form painful mats that tug at the skin.

6. Training. Every dog (and parent) needs training. Without training, dogs can easily get out of control, and that’s no fun for anyone. Rules should be established early in life to keep the peace in your home.

5. Maintain dental health. You brush your teeth, but may not give much thought to your dog’s teeth. Poor dental health can cause pain and other systemic illness in your dog. Talk to your veterinarian about developing good oral health habits, including regular brushing.

4. Prevent parasites. Fleas, ticks, heartworms and intestinal parasites (worms) can all run rampant in your dog. Luckily they are all easy to prevent by administering the proper monthly medications.

3. Make sure your dog is spayed or neutered. Unspayed female dogs are more likely to develop breast cancer and uterine infections, while unneutered males are prone to fighting and urine marking. If your pet is not used for breeding, it should be spayed or neutered. And before you bring more puppies into this world, consider how many dogs are euthanized every day because they don’t have homes.

2. Maintain your dog’s vaccines. Some vaccines are given every three years now, so it may be hard to keep track of when vaccines are due. Your veterinarian keeps track of this for you, but if it’s been a while since your dog has had shots, be sure to ask. Even the most meticulous office can make mistakes.

1. Have fun! This is KEY for mental happiness! Play games with your dog and incorporate 30 minute walks into every day. Nothing brings a smile to my dog’s face faster than seeing her leash come out! When you aren’t home, provide opportunities for fun (such as treat filled toys) to keep your dog out of trouble.