In addition to keeping your dog healthy with regular visits to the veterinarian, a healthy diet, and plenty of exercise, here are a few simple things you can do every day to keep your dog healthy and safe.
Wash the treat dispensers. Peanut butter in a Kong, dog food in a Kibble Nibble. Dog owners know that they can keep their dog busy for a while with toys that dispense treats. Even if your dog licks all of the peanut butter out of his Kong, you still need to wash the dispenser with warm soapy water to get rid of any food particles and germs.
Wash the dog bowls. Like the toys, even when Fido is licking his bowl clean, there’s food residue that needs to be washed away. Don’t forget to wash the water bowl, too. Standing water can make the water bowl slimy, so once a day, give both the food bowl and the water bowl a quick wash. And make sure your dog has a fresh bowl of water available all day.
Check the dog toys for signs of wear and tear. No toy is indestructible, so you need to check your dog’s toys regularly to make sure that pieces aren’t missing, ropes aren’t unraveling, and toys are still in good condition. Some toys, like Nylabones, are made so that very small pieces, like the little nubby bumps on some toys, can pass through your dog without problem. But if your dog manages to chew off and swallow a big piece of a rubber toy or a long strand of string, you could be in trouble. Those can get stuck in his digestive tract and cause serious problems. If you have any questions, toss the toy.
Pet your dog. That sounds so simple, but the very act of running your hands all over your dog every day is not only comforting for you, but it also offers you the opportunity to notice changes in your dog’s coat and skin. If you’re feeling your dog from head to toe everyday, you’re more likely to notice bug bites, scratches, cysts, and other minor changes hidden under fur. Grooming your dog also helps his circulation, and it’s a good bonding experience for you both.
And maybe the toughest, but one of the most important ways you can keep your dog healthy:
Pick up the poop. Cleaning up after your dog does more than just ensure you come in the house with clean shoes. It keeps your yard free from feces that can carry parasites that spread illness to you or your dog. When the kids play in the yard where dog poop has been left for a while, for example, they can pick up parasites, like hookworm or roundworm. And don’t wait for spring to scoop that winter poop. Christopher Houck, from Pooper Scooper, Inc. in Rochester, explains that when the dog poop freezes in winter, “Dogs think it’s a treat and it’s not uncommon for them to eat it, and then end up with worms.”
If you don’t want to scoop the poop yourself, you can hire someone to do it for you. Find a kid in the neighborhood who wants to make a few extra dollars, or hire a service like Pooper Scooper. You can reach them at 585 458-7667 (that’s 458-POOP). Their rates vary depending on what kind of dog you have, but start at $4 a week, and their service area covers a 50 mile radius around Rochester.
(c) 2010 Joanne Brokaw all rights reserved. For permission to reprint, visit me at www.JoanneBrokaw.com. And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter!