Becoming a dog owner is a lifelong commitment, and you want to make sure you and your pooch live a long, healthy, happy life together. Mary Burch, the American Kennel Club’s canine good citizen director and a certified applied animal behaviorist, offers the following tips on how to keep your pup healthy and happy.
— Choose a veterinarian for routine care. First and foremost, you need to select a veterinarian with whom you feel comfortable. Your dog’s veterinarian will work with you to establish the best care plan for your pup, including a vaccine schedule, medical treatment when needed, and preventive care. Preventive care will improve your dog’s quality of life by protecting him from worms, ticks and fleas.
— Provide good nutrition. What you feed your dog affects his health over the course of his life. Feed your pup a high-quality food with the proper amounts of protein, fat, fiber, vitamins and minerals. If you are unsure of which food to select, your veterinarian can recommend a brand. In addition to food, your dog should always have access to clean water. If your dog stays outdoors for part of the day, be sure there is clean water outside.
— Provide daily exercise. Daily exercise is good for your pup’s heart, lungs, circulatory system and muscles. In addition, it will help him maintain a healthy weight.
— Groom your dog. Routine grooming tasks, such as brushing, bathing and caring for the paws, nails, eyes and ears, will keep your dog free of external parasites and skin infections. While bathing only needs to be done as needed, ideally, brushing should be done every day. Brushing helps keep your pooch’s coat in mint condition by cleaning the coat and stimulating the skin oils that create a gorgeous, healthy shine.
— Keep your puppy’s mental health strong. Using a positive reinforcement approach, AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy classes will help your puppy get started on the right paw in life. S.T.A.R. stands for Socialization, Training, Activity and a Responsible owner — all the things every puppy needs.