We all do our best to keep on top of our dog’s health, but sometimes we miss the subtle signs that perhaps certain situations are making them uncomfortable, or that perhaps they’ve put on a bit too much weight or even that they need a little more interaction. Use the pointers below to help keep them in balance…
Nutrition and weight
- If your dog is a healthy weight, you should be able to see their waist (a ‘tuck’ behind the ribs).
- Monitor your dog’s food intake; most dogs need about 25-30 calories per pound of their body weight per day in order to maintain their weight. This means that a 35lb dog would require 875 1,050calories per day (depending on their activity levels). This includes treats and snacks, so keep a tab on how many each family member is giving them!
- Calories often need to be reduced for senior dogs, as they usually don’t exert as much energy and their metabolism often slows with age. A multivitamin tailored to senior dogs is often a useful way to put your mind at ease that they’re receiving everything they need, especially as their bodies become less efficient at absorbing nutrients with age.
- A multivitamin can also help to support the nutritional needs of your dog if they’re either very active or if they’re a fussy eater!
- If your dog’s eating or drinking habits change, consult your vet.
- Dogs love routine – try and keep their everyday schedule roughly the same, so they know when they’ll be fed, when it’s time for walkies and when you’ll be home.
- Your dog can tell you when they’re stressed – just not with words. Instead, study their body language. Exaggerated yawning, efforts to make themselves smaller in size, trembling, panting and pinning back their ears are all signs that they are uncomfortable.
- Notice if your pet suddenly wants more company, or perhaps they’ve started avoiding family members and other pets altogether? Other behavioural changes to be aware of include hostility, excessive vocalisation, destructiveness and inappropriate elimination.
- There are varying opinions on whether dogs require the company of other dogs in order to live their happiest, most fulfilled life, but all dogs need to be able to cope with everyday interactions with all kinds of people and animals (such as they will encounter on their daily walks). If your dog is nervous around other people, ask them to wait until your dog approaches them, and only to pet your dog where their hands can be seen, such as their chest or chin.
- If you think your dog needs a little more interaction, you could also start to attend dog classes, which are a safe way for your dog to interact with other people and other dogs. Ask your local vet for recommendations.
- On the other hand, do not expect your dog to like socialising with all other dogs – just like we can’t be best friends with everyone we meet either!