We all want the best for our pets. We either rescued them from bad conditions, took them off a friend’s hands, or found them through a local or far away breeder. How ever we obtained our companions we want to make the best home for them. In this post, we will highlight the most common ways to create a happy pet environment for dogs.
Poor living conditions can result in bad behavior, unclean surroundings, and even health complications. This post will be the first of a series of 4 posts in which we will highlight the most common tips for enriching the lives of your pets. The following posts in this series will highlight happy environments for cats, horses, and birds.
Exercise not only promotes health but also creates an energy outlet for highly active breeds. One of the biggest benefits of owning a dog is the ability to play and interact with them. This play time can be incorporated into their daily exercise by throwing a ball or Frisbee for them and playing tug-o-war. Many breeds such as Australian shepherds, labradors, or heelers crave the opportunity to run and play.
Why not teach them new tricks like jumping through a hula hoop, running through an obstacle course, or playing hide and seek! They will let us know when they are worn out and ready to rest. They may start to slow down, pant heavily, and lay or sit down often. Research your dog’s breed and learn what they were bred to do. For example, beagles love to hunt. A great enrichment for them would be to hide food underneath cups or buckets around the house for them to find.
Boredom forms bad habits. Any dog should have at least two non destructable chew toys accessible to them when they are left alone for more than 2-3 hours. These toys should be rotated with other toys periodically to keep their interest peaked. Be cautious when leaving a dog alone with sqeaky toys, stuffed toys, or rope toys.
They can cause intestinal obstructions if ingested. There are many great toys and products to help fight boredom in dogs.
Kong toys are great to fill with peanut butter to keep your dog occupied for a period of time. Licking is one of the most common habits resulting from boredom. Dogs can develop what we call lick granulomas on their skin from excessive licking and chewing, which in turn, can cause secondary bacterial/yeast infections. Teach them new tricks and enhance their skills. Dogs love to have a job. They are hunters, explorers, and entertainers.
Dogs are most comfortable when they are free of mats and tangles that pull at their skin. Keep their nails trimmed to avoid discomfort as well. Brush long haired dogs daily and bathe them as needed. Most indoor dogs will need baths 2-3 times a month. Over bathing your dog may lead to dry skin with dandruff. Small, long haired dogs will need to be groomed once every 4-6 weeks. Did you know that dogs need their teeth brushed too? Daily teeth brushing is a priority to your dog’s well being and will minimize dental disease.
Water should be easily accessible to your dog throughout the day. Meal feeding is recommended opposed to free feeding to avoid over eating. Keep their “poddy area” clean to discourage inappropiate defecation and urination.
Dogs will always love us no matter what. This is what makes them “man’s best friend.” Let’s give them the life they deserve!
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Our practice is unique in that we provide medical care to multiple species in the greater Tucson area. Three of our veterinarians specialize in the care of dogs and cats and the other three veterinarians specialize in the care of horses and livestock.