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Staying healthy

Below are some tips about the important ways to keep your dog happy and healthy.


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

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.


  • 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

Grooming and dental health

Grooming and dental health


  • 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

Protecting against parasites

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.
  • 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

Staying safe

What to look out for around the home that could be a danger to your dog.

Dogs love to get up to mischief. Most of the time it's good healthy fun, but you do need to be aware of their safety - from having a fenced, dog friendly back yard, travelling safely on car journeys, to making sure they're not eating things around the home and garden that might be poisonous to them.


Around the home

  • Ensure all household chemicals are stored in a safe place and out of reach from dogs
  • Prevent your dog from scavenging food and items from your household bin and make sure you safely dispose of medicines, chemicals and food so your dog can't get to them
  • Foods that are toxic to dogs include onions and garlic – these can be hidden in our own meals, so avoid giving your dog leftover food, no matter how much they may beg for it
  • We love it, but chocolate contains theobromine and this is dangerous to dogs – cocoa powder and cooking chocolate are the most toxic forms, but even licking a substantial part of the chocolate icing from a cake can make a dog unwell – see your vet if your dog does manage to get his chops on chocolate
  • In the backyard, make sure insecticides and fertiliser containers are sealed, stored out of your dog's reach and are used strictly according to the manufacturer's directions. Dogs love 'blood and bone', even if it smells terrible to us, so keep them away from fertilisers and you can stop them getting ill
  • As dogs often like to chew plants, make sure you avoid plants known to be toxic. Refer to the list of common Australian plants that we know are toxic to dogs
    Plants that are toxic to dogs
  • Contact your vet immediately if you think your pet may have ingested a poisonous plant, chemical or food

Travel safe

Consider using a specially designed dog carrier, or a harness, depending on the size and age of your dog. Carriers should have good ventilation, a secure door and plenty of room – never leave your dog loose in the car. In the event of an accident an unsecured dog could not only seriously hurt themselves but could also be a danger to other passengers in the car.

For longer journeys, tips to help make the trip stress-free and enjoyable for you and your dog include:

  1. Don't feed your dog immediately prior to car travel
  2. Stop every 2 hours for some exercise and toilet break
  3. Take a water container for your dog to have a drink when you stop
  4. Use a window blind to shield your dog from the sun
  5. Never leave your dog unattended in a hot car

When travelling to tick prone areas be extra vigilant of changes in your dog's behaviour. Consider a preventative such as Nexgard Spectra to protect your dog from these nasty and potentially deadly parasites.

Your new dog

Thinking of introducing a new dog to your home?


Your new adult dog

When you're introducing a new dog into your home, it's important to be prepared. If they're an adult and you already have a dog at home, there are ways that you can make the introduction run smoothly.

  • Try to have someone take your existing dog for a walk while you let your new dog explore your house – even though they can smell your dog, there won't be the added stress of meeting while on unfamiliar territory
  • Once familiar with your property, take your new dog to the park to meet your existing dog, aiming to keep this first meeting relaxed and playful and on neutral territory
  • Bring treats to reward both dogs for good behaviour
  • When you take your new dog home, make sure that you have hidden any objects your dogs might compete for – toys, chews or food, and closely supervise while they explore the yard and house together
  • Provide your new dog with their own area for sleeping and eating
  • If you are concerned about introducing your pets, talk to your vet or contact your state/territory RSPCA or Delta Institute for a chat with their behavioural training staff

Your new puppy

Dogs, like children, need boundaries and rules. Remember, you are their leader and it's important that you focus on training using positive reinforcement to help them make better choices.

  • Behavioural training is important so that your dog knows how to behave with your family and the community
  • Dogs live in groups or 'families' in the wild, so help them feel secure within your family, by giving them clear and consistent rules – this way they can understand how they fit into your family group
  • The most important thing to remember is consistency – everyone in the family needs to treat the dog in the same way to reinforce the rules that you have set
  • Ask your vet or contact a positive reinforcement trainer, such as Delta Institute or an APDT trainer, for guidance with setting up a training program suitable for you and your dog