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Your Dog’s Basic Needs

As a dog owner, you need to know that you’re meeting your dog’s basic needs to ensure its health and well-being.

Like humans, dogs need food, water and shelter to survive. Also like humans, dogs need physical care and nurturing in order to thrive. Here’s how to help keep your dog healthy and safe while meeting its basic needs:

Proper Nutrition is Vital
A healthy, balanced diet is essential. Feed your dog the highest quality food that you can afford. Carefully read the labels on all new dog foods you’re considering for your dog’s diet. Buy from companies that pledge to use high-quality ingredients instead of cheaper fillers. Then, choose a good-quality diet with a taste that your pet likes.

Many dog food companies will provide samples you can try without buying a whole bag. This is a great way to test new food on your dog. Other companies offer money-back guarantees if your dog does not like their food. If you decide to feed your dog a homemade diet, talk with your veterinarian first about all the ingredients you plan to use to be sure what you make will be safe for your dog. Then, make small batches of the homemade food until you are sure your dog will eat it.

When you change dog foods, check to see how your dog handles its new diet over the first few weeks. A noticeable drop in your dog’s energy level or a dulling of its coat may indicate a need to change the diet. When you change your dog’s food, always do it gradually to avoid gastrointestinal upset. Consult your veterinarian if you notice any changes in your pet’s health.
Always be sure your dog has access to plenty of fresh, clean water.

Home is More Than Just a Shelter
Dogs are pack animals. They’re not happy if excluded from the family unit. Sometimes circumstances require dogs to live outside, but most dogs are healthier and happier indoors. A dog needs its own crate or bed. This teaches your dog to have respect for his own space and yours. Set down ground rules, being sure to train your dog to understand which areas are off-limit in your house.

If your dog likes to spend a good amount of its time outdoors, install a doggy door or a temperature-controlled doghouse. Never leave your dog unattended outside without shelter during very hot or cold weather as this can severely endanger its life.

Physical Maintenance
Keep your dog healthy with regular exercise and preventive veterinary care. Set up a regular exercise routine for your dog, even if it’s just a casual walk around the block every morning and evening. Set an appointment with your veterinarian at least once or twice a year for a general check-up. It benefits both your dog’s health and your wallet to discover potential problems before your dog shows any signs of illness or disease.

Every dog needs basic grooming, including bathing and nail trimming. Dogs with longer hair need regular haircuts. If you can’t afford grooming services, learn to groom your dog at home. Nail grinders, shampoos and other necessary grooming supplies can be purchased at a pet store like Petco.

Nurturing Your Dog
Dogs need structure and discipline in their lives. Obedience training is essential to your dog’s quality of life. Decide on a training program and follow it regularly. You can join a training class taught by a professional instructor, or learn about proper dog training on your own. Whatever method you choose, you need to establish yourself as the boss, reinforce good behavior, and lovingly correct misbehavior. If you are consistent you will reap positive results.

Maintaining the human-canine bond is important to your dog. Set aside time for petting your dog, showing it love by talking to it. Most dogs really enjoy riding in the car and it’s a great way to be close to your dog while running errands or traveling.

Following these guidelines for your dog’s basic needs establishes the foundation for a long, happy life together with your dog. Dog ownership should not be seen as or considered a chore, but should be an experience that enriches your life and that of your dog.

Keep its tail wagging and you will be happier too.


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