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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016 3 years ago

Give your dog the gift of good health

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A guide to dog gifts
by: Sherri Cappabianca Staff Writer

Are you looking for a gift for your dog that will benefit you both? How about the gift of health? With so many dogs who are overweight and out of shape, giving the gift of heath can not only prolong your dog’s life but give him a better quality of life as well. If you’re looking for ideas, here are some suggestions.

• Look at the food you’re feeding and change it if necessary. If you don’t already know what’s in your dog’s food, learn about ingredients, what’s good or bad, what fillers are, and what the calorie count is. Then you’ll know if you need to switch to a better quality food. Buy the best quality food you can afford.

• If your dog is overweight, feed the amount recommended for the weight you want your dog to be, not the weight he currently is.

• Give your dog raw marrow bones to chew on – the ones you buy in the grocery store. A vet told me years ago that chewing on marrow bones is the best way to keep your dog’s teeth clean. I’ve seen it work. Just make sure they are big enough so your dog won’t swallow them. And throw them away when they become brittle. Celery works well also, plus it’s very low in calories.

• Regularly brush your dog. Brushing removes loose hair, prevents matting, and gives you an opportunity to check the health of his skin and fur, and to look for fleas and ticks. Plus it’s a great way to bond with your dog.

• Don’t bath him too often. Bathing your dog too much can deplete a dog’s natural oils.

• Improve your dog’s exercise regimen. Most dogs need more exercise than they currently get, which is one reason why so many dogs are overweight. Jog with your dog (great for both of you), play fetch, take your dog swimming, or enroll in classes you and your dog may enjoy, such as agility.

• Engage your dog’s mind. This can happen through classes such as obedience, tricks, or agility, by teaching him new tricks or commands, or by giving him puzzle type toys, where he has to solve a problem to get a treat. You can even “hide” puzzle toys around your home while your away, giving your dog the fun and excitement of hunting for the treat.

• If you lead a busy life, consider taking your dog to a good doggie daycare, at least once or twice a week. Carefully research doggie daycare facilities and find one that will be a good outlet and fit for your dog. Not all dog daycare facilities are created equal.

• Look for social opportunities for your dog if he gets along with other dogs. Dogs are social animals by nature and many like to spend time with other dogs. Dog parks, doggie daycare facilities, friends and family with dogs are all great ways to give your dog the socialization he needs.

• Finally, spend quality time together. Your dog loves you and wants to be with you. Take a walk, sit together in a park, play a game, go out to dinner (sitting outside of course), or take your dog to farmer’s markets or other outdoor events.

By giving the gift of health, you in turn will be richly rewarded with a loving, loyal, and healthy companion.

Bio: Sherri Cappabianca, an expert in the field of canine health and fitness, is the author of two books on canine health, and co-owner of Rocky’s Retreat, an intimate and personal boarding, daycare, hydrotherapy and fitness center, and Barking Dog Fitness, a Gym for Dogs, both located in Orlando. For more information, visit rockysretreat.com or barkingdogfitness.com.

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