Whole Life

While nutrition is of the utmost importance to health, we should always consider the whole dog. Since longevity, good health and quality of life are the goals, we need take a more holistic approach to our dog’s lives. Consider the following and how they impact your dog’s overall health and well-being:

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There are a number of pollutants and toxins that our dogs encounter daily and though we might not have control over all of them, we can actually eliminate many. Consider washing your floors with natural soap or vinegar. Wash your laundry, including pet beds in unscented, natural detergent. When bathing your pet always use an unscented, natural shampoo. Chemical air and fabric fresheners will not only drive your dog up the wall, the toxic fragrance will stick to his fur, food and water, and therefore be ingested. Try essential oils instead.

Flea treatments are pesticides. Many naturally fed dogs do not attract fleas, but it is still in your best interest to prevent them as best you can. It may seem like a hassle, but the effort is worth it if you can avoid treating your dog with harsh chemicals. Frequent baths, vacuuming of carpets and floors (empty bags/containers immediately), laundering of pet beds and using natural repellent sprays (apple cider vinegar mixed with 50% water), will go a long way to prevent and control fleas.

Stress

Minimize and eliminate stress because it harms the body. Figuring out what stresses your dog out can be tricky if you don’t know how to read their signals. So that’s the first step. From there you can help alleviate what raises their cortisol by avoiding the situations, or providing them with the tools to cope. This can be anything from a DAP collar to counter-conditioning.

Training

Speaking of training, the methods you use to train your dog are more important than you may realize, and they should never involve punishment. It can’t be stressed enough the importance of using positive reinforcement training. +R training is science-based and cruelty free. This is the way to a confident dog who trusts you. It’s also the way to a great friendship. Here’s how to choose a great trainer. A small pop on the leash or an alpha-roll may seem harmless, but I assure you it’s causing stress.

Vaccines

To titer is better. Absolutely your dog needs his core vaccines. But in lieu of regular boosters, I encourage you to ask your veterinarian for titer tests. These tests will tell you if your dog has retained immunity; research is proving that vaccines last much longer than once thought. A titer test is more costly, but considering the alternative, they’re well worth it. In veterinary medicine, evidence is mounting that vaccines can set into motion immune-mediated and other chronic disorders. Dogs who should never be vaccinated are those who have had a negative reaction in the past, are sick, elderly, or suffering from chronic allergies or disease.

Treats

Provide wholesome treats. Ones with ingredients you recognize, that are completely free of colouring and flavour enhancing agents.

Weight

Canine obesity truly is an epidemic. Overweight dogs have more joint and health problems, and do not live as long. Many factors impact obesity, and these can be addressed, but first, you need to determine whether or not your dog is overweight. This is a difficult task to ask of most pet owners who have become accustomed to seeing dogs who are slightly overweight, to obese. Ask your vet, and look objectively at this Body Condition Scoring Chart.

Wash Food & Water Bowls

They might be licked “clean, but they’re anything but. Dogs salivate while they’re eating and this creates a film on food and water bowls. Use glass, ceramic, or stainless steel bowls and rotate them in your dishwasher if you don’t want to hand wash them. Wash food bowls daily, change water daily, and wash water bowls at least every other day.

Second Hand Smoke

If you smoke, don’t do it in the house or in the car with your dog. They’re not immune to second-hand smoke, and they ingest it when they groom themselves.

Regular Check ups

Hopefully your dog is healthy and frequent veterinary visits aren’t required. However, even if everything looks good on the outside, your dog’s yearly check up is important at every life stage. Your vet will draw blood and do a thorough physical exam, both of which can help identify certain health issues.