The best dog wellness plans begin at home. You and your family are the ones in charge of making sure your pet leads a life filled with fun times. When you accepted a new member into your family, you agreed to take care of that pup to the best of your ability.
Now, even though your dog may have convinced you on looks alone – who doesn’t melt when they see a small puppy?! – there’s much more to caring for a dog than food and clean water and all that shoveling.
But keeping your pet healthy isn’t overly difficult. Once you get a feel for how your dog responds to different things and situations, you’ll get to know each other and form a very strong bond. One of the strongest in the world, in fact.
And to live the best possible version of the dog’s life, your pooch requires some help from you. In between their 30+ naps a day, there are some basics you can provide.
In this post, we’ll go over the simple things you can do for your dog.
Here’s a quick primer video on what we’ll cover here:
And if dogs could talk, here are nine things they would tell us:
CATEGORY ONE: ACTIVITY & NUTRITION
"My Stomach Isn't a Garbage Can."
Just because you like to slather peanut butter on Twinkies then dip them in melted chocolate (try it if you haven’t yet!) doesn’t mean you need to pass poor eating habits along to your dog.
Happy, healthy dogs expend a lot of energy every day. Replace all those calories they burn with high-quality food. No fillers allowed! Would you want to eat compressed sawdust?
Your dog’s meals should consist of protein with antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. There are lots of fortified dog foods out there to fulfill this need.
Although eating junk food makes you feel good initially, shortly afterward it makes you feel worse than you did before you ate it. And you don't eat junk food for every meal, do you? Your dog shouldn't have to, either!
While a good diet is a fantastic way to keep your pet healthy, cannabinoid nutrition can provide an added boost. And hemp-based cannabinoids like CBD are especially relevant if your dog is on any type of medications.
"I Don't Want to Be Chubby."
Proper nutrition is only half of the puzzle when it comes to keeping your dog at its most svelte. You dog longs to be in tip-top shape and views themselves as super-dog.
Just like their human keepers, carrying extra body weight puts extra strain on your dog's joints and tendons. Maintaining an ideal weight helps keep those all-important body parts stress-free.
Your dog doesn’t want you to lift them up onto the couch. Your dog wants to leap up there and maybe lick the ceiling first, just for good measure.
Of course, there are aging dogs and lowrider breeds that don’t jump much, but I think you get the idea. Try to refrain from letting your pooch blimp up.
"Staying at Home All Day is Boring."
So, if diet is one half of the puzzle, what’s the other? You got it, exercise. Basic exercise. If you can find 20 minutes a day to take your dog for a vigorous walk, both of you will be much better for it.
Getting outside and moving and playing and enjoying fresh air isn’t just about the body, it’s about the mind as well. The brain needs new experiences and scenery to run smoothly.
Getting outdoors and enjoying improved air quality – in most regions, anyhow – is just as important for your pet as it is for you.
Regular exercise helps keep your dog’s bones, muscles, and tendons healthy and strong. Likewise, for you. The simple act of exercising your dog will help bring out the best in both of you.
And when you get the blood flowing and the heart pumping, you are enhancing the capacity of your cardiovascular system. Put simply, exercise increases the ability to process oxygen for both you and your pet.
You see, oxygen is the key to energy. The more oxygen a body can process, the more vibrant and energetic that body is going to be.
CATEGORY 2: BASIC HYGIENE
"My Tongue Can't Wash All this Fur."
You’ve no doubt seen your dog cleaning themselves, typically with one leg flying in the air. But have you ever seen your dog cleaning their own back? No, of course you haven’t because no dog’s tongue is that long.
And you know that feeling you get when it’s time for a shower? You’re greasy and smelly and don’t even want to change shirts for fear of totally funking up another one and subjecting yourself to even more laundry.
It’s an uncomfortable feeling. Now imagine feeling like that for days and weeks on end. No amount of Old Spice could ever mask that stench.
Give your dog a bath every two to four months.
That’s really not too much to ask, and your dog will love you for it. I know, some dogs despise getting wet and others love to shake themselves off in the worst possible places (“oh, did you get a new rug?”) but please, give that dog a bath!
"Should I Just File My Nails on the Sidewalk, or What?"
Torn nails can be painful and uncomfortable. Have you ever torn one? I have and it really, really hurt. Now imagine your dog tearing a nail and then having to walk around on that nuisance all the time.
The first step is to find a good set of clippers. Since doggies come in all shapes and sizes, so do their nails. You’ll need to go online or visit a pet store to find some that work best for your dog’s unique nails.
Clip your dog’s claws regularly, being careful to not trim them too short.
Treat your dog’s nails like your own and you shouldn’t have any issues. And you might just come to find out that your dog actually looks forward to it.
"My Coat Would Stay Silky if I Could Hold a Brush"
Regular brushing benefits your dog in a number of ways. And it’s not just your dog that gets rewarded. Any fuzz that comes off in your brush is hair that won’t make its way into your carpet, your furniture, your car, or your bowl of cereal.
But brushing does much more than ridding your home of unwanted fur. Routine brushing also helps maintain the coat’s natural shine.
Brushing also stimulates the surface of your dog’s skin and removes any dead cells that may be lurking beneath the hair. This is also a great opportunity to check for fleas and ticks and other parasites that may be catching a free ride in the fluff.
Your dog’s hair is like a filter and that filter needs routine cleaning, just like in your car and your home’s central A/C.
And maybe best of all, dogs usually fall in love with whoever is brushing them.
"Hello? Hello? Can You Check My Ears?"
If you’ve been a dog owner for any length of time, you’ve probably gone through an ear infection with them. You know, when one of their ears is gross and puffy and tender.
You may even have to install one of those lovely satellite dishes on their neck so they won't scratch their ear off.
Sure, ear infections happen from time to time. But there’s a simple way to lessen their frequency. And all it takes is a just a little maintenance.
Every once in a while, use warm water to wet a washcloth. Wring it out so it’s damp, not drippy. Use the washcloth to wipe down the outside as well as the inside of your dog’s ears.
No need to go too deep! You don’t shove Q-tips way down inside your ears, do you? And while you’re at it, take a good look around for anything that seems unusual so you can tell the vet about it on your next visit.
"Don't Forget About My Mouth."
You may not enjoy the aroma of stale dog breath but it’s important to do a little investigating. And if things smell really funky in there, it may be a sign of a bigger problem.
Nobody is suggesting you embark on a hunt for organic turkey-flavored doggie floss but don’t altogether neglect your dog’s mouth.
Take a peek at the teeth and gums regularly. Some diseases crop up in the mouth and you may find warts, tumors, or even inflamed gums.
Your wily friend may even have splinters or thorns in there from gnawing on everything in sight. Regular at-home exams are the best way to catch problems early and stay familiar with any changes within your dog’s mouth.
CATEGORY 3: QUALITY TIME TOGETHER
"Hey, Wanna Play? Hey, Wanna Play? I Wanna Play!"
Up to this point, we’ve covered the basics of keeping your dog’s body firing on all cylinders. But something that’s often overlooked by dog owners is mental health. A happy dog is a healthy dog and vice versa.
You know that happy dance your dog does when you come home from work? That’s a true sign of love and devotion. Your dog misses you when you’re away. And, dogs get so excited because someone is finally available to walk or play with them.
Point is, your dog thrives on mental stimulation. And the best way to stimulate your dog’s mind is by spending quality time with them.
Play tag with them. Play fetch with them. Chase them. Pet them. Talk to them. Brush them. Teach them tricks. Take them for regular walks. Shower them with the same love and appreciation that they give to you and you are sure to enrich both of your lives.
Now that you know what your pet wants from you, it’s time to put these ideas into practice. And hopefully, you've been doing most of these activities all along. It doesn’t take too much effort on your part to get into a routine that helps your dog stay healthy and strong with a zest for the dog’s life.
Set your dog up with a good nutrition plan – including cannabinoids to boost overall wellbeing – plus exercise, basic hygiene, and lots of quality time together.
Plan to give your dog at least one hour of attention, every single day. The more, the better, but devote at least an hour.
Give it some time, put these tips to use, and maybe, just maybe, your dog will trim their daily nap count to 20.