Your Dog’s Health: Three Ways To Prevent A Visit To The Animal Hospital

As a responsible pet owner, you want to keep your dog happy and healthy and out of harm's way. While there are many things that might warrant a trip to the pet hospital, you can reduce the risk by following a few simple guidelines. In addition to choosing the right diet and safe toys, you need to be aware of potential health risks before a problem arises. Here are three ways to keep Fido in peak health and prevent an unexpected visit to the emergency vet:

1. Select a Healthy Diet

Your dog should consume a balanced diet containing protein from meat and poultry, as well as vegetables and grains. You'll want to avoid fillers and by-products, so read the labels and avoid ingredients marked as "BHT" and "BHA" or propylene glycol. Choosing the correct amount of food to feed your dog is important as well. Your vet can give more information on your pet's nutritional needs throughout every stage of life.

Equally important, you must know what not to feed your canine pal. Most pet owners know that offering their dogs sugary and salty foods is not a good idea. It's also not a secret that chocolate and alcohol is dangerous for your pet. However, there are other potentially harmful foods that inexperienced dog owners might not suspect, including:

  • Grapes and Raisins: While not every dog will be subject to the harmful effects of eating grapes or raisins, there is a risk of toxicity and possible kidney failure if consumed in even a small amount. To be safe, don't offer your dog this fruit. If your pet has consumed grapes or raisins, be aware of the symptoms of toxicosis, such as vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite and lack of energy. If you suspect your dog may be affected, seek emergency veterinary treatment at once.

  • Avocado: Keep that guacamole dip out of your pet's reach. A substance known as persin is present in avocado, and this may cause toxicity in dogs. Be aware that this potentially toxic substance is not only present in the fleshy part of the fruit, but in the seeds and leaves of the plant as well.

  • Seasonings Containing Onions and Garlic: Whether onion or garlic is freshly minced, chopped or in powdered form, consumption may be harmful to your dog. Both onions and garlic have been attributed to canine anemia and a reduction of red blood cells.

  • Macadamia Nuts: Consumed in even a small amount, these nuts may be toxic to your dog. In addition to digestive upset, consuming macadamia nuts may cause neurological disturbances including convulsions or paralysis in your dog.

  • Meat or Poultry Bones: It's not a good idea to offer your furry friend a bone. Bones can splinter and become a choking hazard.

  • Raw Dough: The yeast in raw dough will expand inside your dog's tummy, causing extreme pain or possible obstruction.

2. Choose Safe Toys for Your Dog

Because a product is labeled as a "dog toy," it does not necessarily mean it is completely safe for your pet. For instance, there are many toys that contain rawhide, and some may pose a choking hazard. Instead of a rawhide bone, offer your dog a synthetic nylon bone-shaped toy. Rubberized toys that are virtually indestructible are good alternatives as well.

Never give your dog a toy with string or frayed fabric, as your pet may choke or ingest the threads. If your dog plays with rope toys, inspect it frequently for fraying. Also, if a plush or fleece dog toy has become torn, discard it.

3. Care for Your Dog's Teeth and Gums

Good dental hygiene is essential for your dog's health. Plaque and tartar built up may lead to painful gum disease, tooth loss and inability to chew correctly. It's a good idea to bush your dog's teeth each day using a soft toothbrush or a "finger brush" that slips around your finger. Use a canine toothpaste formulated for dogs. Also, ask your vet about canine dental chew treats and have your pet's teeth cleaned regularly by a professional.

Be vigilant and observant when it comes to your dog's well-being. Through proper care and common logic, your pet may may enjoy a happy and healthy life. Here's to many years of companionship for you and your furry best friend.