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Friday, Aug. 22, 2014

Paw Prints: Pet Wellness Month

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

October has been tagged as a special month for many different causes, and one worth observing is National Pet Wellness Month which focuses on the importance of wellness examinations and disease prevention. As pet caregivers, we are responsible for our pets' health, and to ensure our dogs health, a few specific guidelines to help her stay happy and healthy are:

* Consistent, high-quality veterinary care is the foundation for your dog's overall health. . Responsible pet caregivers have spayed or neutered their dog. If your dog is intact, you are missing out on major health benefits, including a much lower incidence of uterine infections and breast cancer in females, and lower risks of testicular cancer among males. . Ideally, wellness exams should be performed twice a year, and dogs with special needs, chronic health conditions, or other illness should be seen even more frequently. Since dogs age at a faster rate than humans, many subtle changes can develop, and routine visits allow your vet to closely monitor changes before minor health problems spin out of control. Your vet will recommend what immunizations that your dog needs, and can also suggest any supplements that might provide additional nutrition to your dog. Developing a good connection with your vet will lead to long-term benefit for you and your dog.

* Wellness starts with what you put into your body, so take a close look at what you're putting in your dog's body. There are almost as many different dog foods as there are people cereals, and most of the highly marketed dog foods are NOT healthy. The FDA does not regulate the pet food industry which results in most commercial pet foods being made from less than high quality ingredients. Dogs have the genetic potential to live 20 years or more but we are robbing those years from their lives with inferior pet foods. Don't naively believe the slick marketing claims of the food manufacturers. Realize that green nuggets are NOT green vegetables: they are nuggets that are dyed green. Same with other colored kibble. Examine your dog's food label , remembering that the primary sources are listed first.

Good kibble should not contain generic fats such as "animal fat" which can be anything from recycled grease from restaurants to a mystery mix of various fats. What do you think is in "animal digest," or "animal by-products ," for example? A healthy product with top quality ingredients shouldn't need artificial preservatives, flavors or colors, or sugar or other sweeteners to entice them to eat! To quickly find out how different foods rate, please check www.dogfoodadvisor.com.

* Most animal caregivers underestimate their dogs' exercise needs. Destructive behavior may lead to a diagnosis of separation anxiety or other behavioral problems, and while these conditions do exist, in many cases the behavior is actually the result of an energy surplus. According to animal trainer, Jenna Stregowski, before you blame your dog for inappropriate behavior, ask yourself if she is getting enough exercise. Many dogs need at least one or two hours of exercise EVERY day, and with everyone's hectic lifestyle, most are lucky to get fifteen minutes.

Because dogs cannot talk, we must rely on the signs that they give us when it comes to analyzing our dog's health. Our dogs may show signs of health problems, and just like humans, mild illnesses may resolve on their own, but we need to be alert to signals of health problems and act appropriately BEFORE the illness spirals out of control.

Pauline Larsen can be contacted at Paw Prints, Box 373, Newell, Iowa, 50568 or by email at plarsen@rconnect.com.