How to Give Your Dog a Longer, Healthier Life (5 Steps)

If you’re like us, you’re continually amazed by the many benefits of dogs.

In addition to being our cuddly companions and faithful sidekicks, dogs have been shown to promote heart health, reduce feelings of loneliness in seniors and act as stress relievers and motivators for children.

Something they can’t do, however, is plan for their long-term health and happiness. And that’s where you come in.

As you’re making New Year’s resolutions for yourself, why not make plans to improve your pup’s quality of life, too? Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Dog playing in the snow with owner

1. Exercise your dog’s body (and mind)

Obesity is on the rise in the pet population. In fact, according to Banfield Pet Hospital’s State of Pet Health Report, one in three dogs in the U.S. is overweight or obese.

And those extra pounds can lead to health issues, including osteoarthritis and other joint conditions. The good news is that slimming down to a healthy weight can be relatively simple.

Regular walks, jogs through the park, games of fetch and other forms of exercise will help keep your dog at an appropriate weight.  And as an added bonus, it’ll keep you active, as well.

(Pro tip: Not sure how heavy your pup should be? Check recommended weights for hundreds of breeds here.)

Just as physical activity is important, mental exercise is a critical component of your dog’s overall health. When dogs receive mental stimulation, they’re less likely to get bored (and bored often equals destructive). Reinforcing basic obedience training, using puzzle toys and playing hide-n-seek are a few ways you can engage your pup’s brain.

Smiling dog

2. Brush up on at-home dental care for your dog

Regular dental care for your dog does more than whiten teeth and freshen breath. (But the latter is a big perk!) Dental disease in dogs is very common and can put your pup at increased risk for infection and heart- and kidney-health problems.

Professional dental cleanings are the best way to keep your dog’s teeth and gums in good condition. But between cleanings, you can do your part by regularly brushing your pooch’s pearly whites. It may take a little practice—and patience—to establish a good routine, but it’s worth it since a clean mouth supports long-term health.

Dog wearing Whistle health tracker

3. Monitor unusual behavior with a pet health tracker

Many pet parents leave their dogs at home when they go to work. If that’s the case for you, you probably don’t have much insight into what your pup does during your workday hours.

A Whistle GO tracker can help fill in some of the blanks. These pet wearable devices monitor licking, scratching, activity and sleep so that you can immediately detect any changes in behavior patterns. This information can help you and your veterinarian stay on top of your dog’s preventive care.

Woman sitting with dog

4. Commit to quality time with your pup

Your dog loves together time as much as you do. So, to benefit you both, carve out a little time each day to just be present with your pet.

Whether it’s a few extra minutes curled up on the couch or an evening stroll in the neighborhood, your dog will appreciate the opportunity to bond with you.

Woman reviewing DNA test results with dog

5. Dig into your dog’s DNA

The more you know about your dog’s breed ancestry and genetics, the better you can plan for preventive veterinary care, dietary requirements and more.

Such knowledge can also help you determine the best approach to training and behavior modification because you’ll be aware of your dog’s natural tendencies and dispositions.

Curious to learn more?

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The mission of WISDOM HEALTH™ veterinary science and research is to facilitate responsible pet care by enhancing the well-being and relationship between pets, pet owners, breeders, shelters and veterinarians through valuable insights into pets as individuals. Through the genetic testing of dogs and cats we aim to make advances in science towards a better world for all pets so their owners can love them longer.

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