Keep Man's Best Friend Healthy - Healthy Pets | All About Pets Special Section
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Fitness for Fido
Keep Man's Best Friend Healthy

Dog owners are well aware that caring for man's best friend has taken on a greater responsibility in recent years. Perhaps that's a result of the popularity of the cable channel Animal Planet or the television show "The Dog Whisperer," each of which has helped to educate dog owners about caring for their canines.

Caring for a dog might be a daily responsibility, but it's one that's often enjoyable for both dogs and humans alike. Dog owners concerned about their best friend's health or those simply hoping to avoid problems down the road can adopt a daily routine that ensures Fido stays active and healthy for years to come.

* Freshen up the dog's water. While this might seem obvious, keeping fresh water in a dog's bowl is something many owners overlook, sometimes leaving the same water in a dog's dish for days on end. Unfortunately, when that happens owners are allowing dirt and dust to build up in the water, which can also become stagnant and prove a great breeding ground for insects if the bowl is outdoors. Humans need a certain amount of water each day to stay healthy, and so do dogs. Change the dog's water at least once per day and twice if the dog eats two meals per day. Also, keep an eye on the water bowl and refill it whenever it's empty. Be sure to clean inside the water bowl at least once per day, and pay attention to any dirt buildup on outdoor water bowls and clean accordingly.

* Feed the dog healthy pet food. Though it might seem fun and friendly to feed a dog directly from the dinner table, it's best to only feed the dog high quality dog food. All dogs are different, and dog owners should consult their veterinarian as to which food is best for their particular breed. While less expensive dog foods might be appealing, keep in mind such foods might be the equivalent of fast food restaurants for humans, which often provide little or no nutritive value.

* Take the dog out every day. Few animals on earth are as naturally active as dogs. Dogs need daily exercise to stay healthy both physically and mentally, so owners should make certain their dog gets substantial physical activity every day. A walk around the block might suffice for smaller breeds, while a trip to the dog park where Fido can run, jump and play with other dogs might be best for medium-sized or larger breeds. Avid outdoors people should take their dog along for hikes through the woods or along for any other excursions they feel their dog can handle. Consult a veterinarian for the recommended daily amount of exercise depending on the breed, but know that all breeds of dogs need exercise as part of their daily routine.

* Play with your dog. A healthy dog isn't one that's just physically healthy, but one that's mentally healthy as well. Dogs need attention on a daily basis, as most breeds are highly susceptible to boredom. Make time to play with your dog every day, as play time with a dog can help it avoid feelings of boredom while providing stimulation for the dog. In addition to playing with the dog, try to include an activity such as teaching the dog to fetch the frisbee. Such activities pull double duty, providing the dog both exercise and mental stimulation, not to mention fun for the dog owner.

* Give the dog some freedom. The conventional wisdom that a dog can be chained in the backyard and left there for hours has thankfully fallen by the wayside. Nowadays, such behavior from dog owners is commonly viewed as abuse. Dogs should not be chained for extended periods of time, and exposing dogs to the elements of nature for prolong periods is potentially very dangerous. A dog's fur, regardless of its thickness, can only protect it against winter weather for so long, and dogs can overheat very quickly in warmer climates. If the dog must be chained, make sure the chain is long enough to allow for significant mobility and do your best to minimize the amount of time the dog is on the chain.