Staying healthy

Listen to Dr Lisa as she talks about the important ways to keep your dog happy and healthy.

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Exercise – good for both of you!

Just like humans, dogs also benefit from regular exercise. Exercise helps support muscle strength, the immune system and your dog's overall sense of wellbeing. Things to think about when you exercise your dog include:

  • Finding an activity that you and your dog enjoy – this might be walking, jogging or taking it easy while your dog does all the running at the dog park!
  • Consider the breed - some dogs such as those with short noses (e.g. Pugs and Bulldogs) find it harder to cope with strenuous exercise than dogs with longer noses (e.g. Collies and Labradors)
  • Age can affect the amount and type of exercise you give your dog
  • Heat and humidity affects the amount of exercise a dog can tolerate so choose the cooler part of the day to go out
  • You can check with your local vet to ensure your dog's exercise is age and breed appropriate to their overall health
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Nutrition – top tips

Food plays a vital role in our health and that of our dogs. Whether you buy or make your dog's meal, you need to ensure your dog's diet contains a full range of nutrients and the size of the meal is appropriate to keep them healthy.

Remember:

  • When selecting a commercially prepared dog food pick a good quality, complete and well-balanced food, which means that nothing extra needs to be added. You can talk to your vet about the most appropriate diet for your dog too
  • Even though dogs seem to love drinking from dirty puddles, clean water is essential. Remember to ensure your dog always has access to fresh cool water
  • Try not to give human food from the table as a dog's nutritional needs are different to our own. There are several human foods you must never give your dog, including chocolate, grapes and onions
  • Be aware of sudden changes to your dog's diet as this can cause digestive upsets
  • If you are preparing home cooked meals, it is essential that the correct quantities of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals are included. It's best to consult your vet for advice to get started
  • If you give additional treats to your dog to help with training and positive reinforcement, make sure they are healthy dog treats – not human ones. 'Treats' that help to clean your dog's teeth and reduce halitosis or bad breath are even better!
  • Remember that food treats add extra calories so be careful to manage your dog's weight
  • Your vet and your clinic's vet nurse team can help with advice on appropriate nutrition and monitoring your dog's weight based on its age, breed and lifestyle
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Staying in tip-top condition

Grooming and dental health – Dr Lisa shows you how to keep your dog in good condition.

Grooming

  • Grooming is the perfect opportunity to check your dog for fleas and ticks
  • Brush regularly to remove dead hair which can tangle and matt the coat, especially if you have a medium or long-haired dog. This is also a good way to connect with your dog and get them used to handling, which comes in handy for vet visits
  • Remove mucus from the corner of your dog's eyes with a clean cloth soaked in warm water - gently wipe in a downward direction, away from the eye
  • Use a shampoo that's specially formulated for dogs – a dog's coat carries valuable oils so be sure to consult your vet for advice about the frequency of washing. The recommended time between washes varies based on the breed and your dog's skin type. Over-washing can strip oils from the hair and skin and actually damage skin barrier and coat quality
  • Gently check your dog's ear flaps and ear canal openings for any scabs, discharge or odours - if they are clean and odourless, leave them alone! Also look out for signs of ticks or foreign objects such as grass seeds
  • If there is anything unusual about the appearance or smell of your dog's ears or their eyes water frequently then see your vet for advice

Dental Care

  • Persistent bad breath in dogs is often the first sign of plaque & tartar build-up. Lift your dog's lips and have a look for plaque and tartar. Tartar (also known as calculus) in dogs is yellow or brown coloured and buildup should be easy to see. Plaque is typically colourless and can be hard to spot on white teeth
  • It's not always easy but try and brush your dog's teeth regularly and incorporate special teeth cleaning chews into your 'treating' options to help reduce plaque and bad breath. Similar to human dental care, you'll find a good dental program will help reduce the likelihood of your dog needing expensive extractions later in life
  • Regular dental checks and cleaning performed by your vet are an essential but only small part of your dog's oral health care. Try and make dental care a regular part of being a pet parent. Your local vet can help develop a program that suits you and your dog
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Protecting against parasites

Dr Lisa discusses parasites and how to help prevent your dog from getting them.

Dogs can easily pick up parasites, simply by socialising with other dogs, running at the dog park or even playing in the back yard. So it's essential to keep them protected all year round.

  • Fleas are actually very common so checking for fleas if your dog is showing signs of scratching and discomfort is the first thing you should do. See how I check my dog Nelson for fleas

  • It's really important, particularly on the eastern seaboard of Australia but also in newly identified areas such as the ACT and parts of Victoria including metro Melbourne, to protect your dog from tick paralysis. For peace of mind, use a tick preventative product– but also check your dog daily for ticks. If you find a tick, remove it immediately, and seek veterinary attention. Watch how I check my dog Nelson thoroughly for ticks

  • Reduce exposure to ticks in the environment by cleaning up leaf litter and debris, keeping grass mowed where possible and limiting exposure to tick habitats during the highest risk months
  • Regular worming of your dog is essential for reducing the risk of some worm infections transferring to humans, in particular children who we know love to play with their dogs and often come in for some serious licking! If your dog loves to play in places such as backyards, public playgrounds, beaches and sandpits, just like my dogs Nelson and Lucas do, these are likely sources of contamination, so monthly worming is really important
  • It's also important to remember that Heartworm Disease can be fatal, so make sure your dog's monthly parasite treatment includes protection against this nasty worm too
  • NEXGARD SPECTRA is the most complete protection against fleas, ticks, heartworm and common intestinal worms in one monthly chew
  • If you are concerned about hydatid tapeworm or you live in a farming area, you should discuss additional tapeworm protection for your dog with your local vet