Lately, we’ve all been trying to eat better at my house. For the human folk, that means cutting out processed foods, carbohydrates, and junk, while eating more whole foods, vegetables and lots of water instead of soda. But the two-legged members of our household aren’t the only ones who need to watch their weight! We decided Bear would take the Purina One 28 Day Challenge because we want our pets to live long, healthy, happy lives too!
Bear is my wonderful, smart, loving companion. He can be a pain in the tush at times, but I adore that dog. No exaggeration, he’s absolutely a part of our family. We love to go for walks, and whenever we take him out in the neighborhood or for a walk to our local park, he always gets attention. People see this big fluffy beast with his tongue happily flapping in the breeze, prancing down the street, and everyone wants to stop and pet him, or ask questions about him, since he’s kind of a unique looking dog. Since he’s such an integral part of our family, we do our best to keep him happy, safe and healthy. It’s important not only to feed your dog quality food, but there’s lots of other things you can do to help improve the safety, health and well-being of your dog.
Forget “sit and stay”, how about “get up and move“. Your dog needs plenty of exercise throughout the day. Most experts suggest at least 30 minutes of activity per day for a dog and many breeds need more than that. Not only is this beneficial for your furry friends, but its great for people too. If dragging your butt to the gym doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, try leashing up your pooch and going for a long, brisk walk. This will have physical and psychological benefits as you get fit, release stress and boost endorphins.
2. Good Clean Water
This one might seem obvious, but its important to stress that dogs (like people) should have constant access to fresh, clean water. Dogs will drink, on average about 1 ounce of water per body weight per day. Unlike food, which should be measured and dispensed each day, water should be something where your dog has constant access in unlimited quantities. We invested in a filtration system or fountain bowl for Bear since he shares his with our cat, Loki. This helps minimize slobber and hair, but its important to make sure its cleaned regularly, which brings me to my next point…
3. Clean the Bowls
Your best bet for pet food bowls are non-porous bowls that can be sanitized periodically in the dishwasher. You wouldn’t eat out of a filthy bowl, your pet shouldn’t either. Keep pet bowls clean and sanitized, and if you use a fountain, make sure to take it apart, scrub and sanitize as well as change the filter on a regular basis. Bear is a big slobbery oaf, so we have to make sure his bowls are kept clean to avoid bacteria buildup. It may help to have two sets of stainless steel bowls so you can always have one out, and one either clean or being washed and rotate them as necessary.
Bear is a collie/husky mix. This means long fur, and double coats. He has his outer coat, the one you see, and a gray, wiry undercoat that you don’t see, which often gets matted and sheds in clumps. While he HATES being brushed, its important to do so to avoid skin problems, parasites and more. Also, keeping your dogs nails trimmed to a healthy length can prevent injury (to them, and to your family) by having claws that are too long and force the toes to bend unnaturally.
5. Regular Checkups
Another obvious point but it bears repeating. By taking your furry friends to the vet, even when something isn’t necessarily “wrong” with them, you may be able to detect problems before they become a big (read: expensive or devastating) issue. Your vet can also help you determine if your pooch has any food allergies (yes, dogs can get food allergies just like humans!) or any other potential issues that may help avoid larger vet bills in the future.
6. Parasite Protection
Flea and tick collars are SO important, but don’t just assume that they are working. You should still check your dog for ticks at least once a week, or whenever they are exposed to areas that may be inhabited by ticks. We learned the hard way that tick collars do NOT always work, when we found a tick embedded in the back of Bear’s EAR a few years ago. It was a painful experience for him, and I felt terrible because I assumed that he was safe! Make sure you give them a thorough petting session and feel all over for any lumps that are not normally present.
7. Obedience Training
I’m not saying your dog has to learn how to walk a tightrope while juggling, or do obstacle courses, but make sure your dog has basic obedience training. This might seem like its not relevant to health and safety, but it is: Bear has gotten off the leash numerous times, and again, we’ve learned the hard way that he doesn’t always listen. He obeys GREAT in the house, but once he’s off the leash, he’s in “explorer mode”. Make sure your dog is obedient enough that he will come when called, even off leash, for his own safety so he doesn’t inadvertently wander into a dangerous situation.
8. Appropriate Collar/Leash
Make sure that you have an appropriate collar/leash. You want one that is not too loose that it will slip off accidentally, but also make sure its not so tight that it cuts off circulation. You should easily be able to slip two fingers between the dog’s neck and the collar. There’s a wide variety of collars available, and a wide variety of opinions on things like training collars, choke collars and muzzles. Do your research on your options and choose the one that works best for your dog. Make sure to inspect the collar regularly for signs of wear, so that you don’t have a situation where it breaks due to stress. Make sure the same of your leash. Choose a leash long enough for your dog to walk comfortably, but short enough that you are always able to have complete control over your dog.
Our lives are busy, but your dog lives for you. His entire world revolves around you and he doesn’t understand that you’re tired from your long day at work, hectic commute in rush hour traffic, and the fact that you’re too tired to even cook yourself a decent meal. All he cares about is that the love of his life, his master, is HOME after what seems like an eternity. Make sure you allot time dedicated to play with your dog in addition to his walk/exercise time. Playing can be anything from fetch, to running in the yard, to tug of war. Bear’s favorite game to play is hide and seek. We throw a toy for him to “fetch” and when he runs to retrieve it, we hide in another room. He absolutely LOVES this game and will bring the toy while he tries to “find” us. Its fun for him, but my husband and I enjoy playing it too. Its so much fun to watch Bear search each room, happily wagging his tail trying to listen and smell for any sign of where we might be hiding!
10. Choose the Right Food
Every dog is different, so their nutritional needs will vary. It’s important to find a food that works well for your dog. Something that meets his nutritional needs, but with a taste he loves. I love my dog, and I would do anything for him. No doubt you’re the same. We chose to take the Purina One 28 Day Challenge for this reason, because we know how a balanced diet is so important for Bear’s health. A proper diet will ensure dental health, a gorgeous coat and healthy skin, bright eyes, healthy digestion and boundless energy. I encourage you to try different foods to see what works best for your dog and take the Purina One 28 Day Challenge. You can print a coupon here for $3 off a bag of Purina One Dog Food when you join the challenge. . Make sure to gradually change the food little by little (a sudden change can cause digestive upset with any food).
Do your dog a favor. Grab the coupon and take the Purina One 28 Day Challenge. I’d love to hear your results!