Wednesday, December 26, 2018

New Year's Resolutions for Your Dog

Happy Holidays, everyone! 
This is Henry writing. As a rescue golden who has been around the block a few times (quite a few blocks, actually), my Mom asked me for my ideas for a blog to start the new year.  Whether you participate in creating resolutions for the new year or not, it’s always a good time to reflect on whether or not our dogs are on the best path.  Initially I wanted to write about my real goals, which include more decadent things to eat or to roll in, or perhaps both; partaking in new smells; and more opportunities to show people that dog hair all over their clothing is the best accessory possible.  But Mom insisted I stick with the basics.  You may already do most if not all of these things, so the list may represent a continuation of good practices rather than new behaviors.  Either way, it is a good reminder of just how much we all count on our humans for our health, well-being, and safety.    

1. I will eat only a high quality diet with proteins appropriate for my special needs. That means food from reputable companies with a good safety record and quality ingredients.  My Mom reads the label of everything I eat very carefully. Proteins are selected to address my allergies which previously contributed to my skin and GI problems and also chronic ear infections. Mom also uses ayurvedic and Chinese principles to help with my anxiety and it has made a big difference. In short, food is the foundation of health overall and one of the most important things our humans can do for us is make sure we have a good diet specific to our needs.   

2. I will maintain ideal weight. That means being able to feel my ribs when you run your hands along the sides of my body. They shouldn’t be pronounced, but you should be able to feel the ridges of the ribs a bit. I also should have a bit of a waist when you look at me from above.

3. I will get plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.  There’s a saying in dog training that a tired dog is a well behaved dog. As a former throw-pillow chewer (ok, there was one recent slip up, I’m really sorry), I have to get rid of my energy and, sometimes, my anxiety and nervousness come up, too.  We all have our issues and limitations, so activity has to be adapted to the dog and also for weather changes, especially our hot and humid summers.  I have puzzle toys and mom plays hide and seek games with me since I can’t get all the physical exercise I need because of some orthopedic issues.  I also go to new places frequently, take my walks using different routes, and walk in different locations just for a change of scenery and to build confidence and improve socialization. That also gives me more quality time with my human which is one of the most important things in my world.

4. I will brush my teeth daily. OK, daily is a tall order and I still don’t like it, but I’m getting used to it. I resisted at first, but my Mom is persistent when it comes to my health. By age 3 more than 80% of dogs have dental disease and that can lead not only to severe tooth and jaw problems but all sorts of serious medical conditions. Home tooth brushing on a regular basis can prevent the vast majority of those problems or, at minimum, decrease the need for professional cleaning.

5. I will have good pain control.  We are fortunate in Central and Eastern Virginia to have so much wonderful veterinary care available and a lot of treatment modalities. It may take some trial and error and openness to different types of treatment, but with so many options available and with attention to diet and exercise, it is possible to have a good quality of life in spite of our problems.

6. I will make sure my environment is safe.  So many problems can be avoided with attention to surroundings – my Mom knows the common poisons, avoids or minimizes chemicals around the house and yard, and makes sure everything is safe for me whenever she is not watching me.  She also knows what I have trouble resisting and keeps that out of reach (Hint: you will have trouble finding paper towels around my house). I will keep practicing my “leave it” command.  Now if I could just stop being so fascinated by those toads that show up every summer… 

7.  I will have appropriate and safe chew items available and be supervised while chewing them. I’m good at this now (except that one pillow slip up) because my Mom provides me with things that satisfy my need to chew and are safe for my teeth. I never eat rawhides and I know the source of my chews and that they are non toxic.

8. I will maintain good hygiene. Nope, I'm not going to take baths on my own, but I do understand the importance of regular brushing, baths on an appropriate schedule, and keeping my ears cleaned and nails trimmed. It’s not just for show, but important for my health. It also gives my Mom a good chance to check for hot spots, lumps, ticks (multiple times a day on that one!), and anything else that might be amiss. 

I have more I could add, but if I keep at these, I’ll have a great foundation for a long, healthy, and happy life. What are your resolutions?

What would you like to learn about this year? Indicate in the comments below and let's get my mom busy addressing some of your interests.  My mom loves reading up on veterinary issues and providing information that may be helpful to you all. Besides, if I keep her busy studying some topic, she might forget to brush my teeth one day at least...

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, and golden New year!