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5 Secrets to a Healthy Dog. Preventive Care For Dogs

May 18, 2015

Looking for the secret to a healthy dog? Preventive care for dogs is something all pet parents should do to help keep their pup in tip-top shape! However, some pet parents feel that preventive care (such as nutrition, supplementation, and exercise) is not a pressing concern. They believe that they have to wait until their dog is showing signs of limping or pain before starting them on any kind of supplement or treatment regimen. There is a popular saying that we’ve all heard, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Today’s post will provide an overview of why good health is something that needs to be maintained throughout life. 

Some dogs, because of breeding or genetics, are predisposed to bone and joint problems. For example, labs are known to be prone to hip dysplasia, teacup dogs have fragile bones that are at risk for fractures, and dachshunds are often susceptible to spinal issues. Sometimes these problems develop when the dogs are young and sometimes they are progressive diseases that show signs as the dog ages. Either way, whatever your dog’s current state is, it’s a good idea to be aware of the importance of preventive healthcare.

WHAT IS CONSIDERED PREVENTIVE CARE?

Preventive healthcare involves a multi-faceted approach that looks at a proactive diagnostic and maintenance measures that can help prevent the onset or progression of disease, illnesses, and injuries- it usually includes veterinary evaluation of your pet's overall health and risks of disease or other health problems. Some preventive care examples:

Preventive Care for Dogs

5 SECRETS TO A HEALTHY DOG:

  • Vaccinations and Parasite Control

Sticking to a routine vaccine schedule and an annual flea/tick prevention regimen are textbook examples of preventive care, because these measures are given to a dog to prevent the development of deadly diseases, illnesses and viruses. Not sure about what vaccinations your dog needs? Check out WebMD Core Vaccine Schedule for a host of information on dog vaccinations.

  • Proper Nutrition: 

“A healthy, nutritious diet builds a foundation for well-being and disease prevention throughout your pet's life,” according to Banfield Pet Hospital. Puppies require diets with special nutritional needs. For example, puppies need a diet rich in protein, calcium and phosphate to maintain an active lifestyle and to grow healthy bones and muscles. Senior dogs might need a special diet to help manage their weight. 

  • Exercise: 

Exercise for dogs can improve bone and joint health, including conditions such as arthritis, and dysplasia. It can also help strengthen the muscles around the joints helping to keep them flexible, as well as helping improve heart and lung function.

  • Annual Wellness Check Up:

Waiting until something goes wrong can often result in the need for surgery or heavy antibiotics. It’s good to take your dog in for an annual wellness visit, where the veterinarian can check for parasites, nutrient deficiencies, kidney and heart functions, and weird lumps that can be sent in for biopsy.

  • Supplementation:

Dog vitamins and supplements can help to maintain proper health throughout each stage of life. Supplementation is very important for dogs that are predisposed to bone and joint issues.

WHY IS PREVENTIVE CARE FOR DOGS IMPORTANT?

As said by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) "The cost of prevention is often a fraction of the cost of treating a disease or problem once it has become more advanced, and early diagnosis and treatment of developing problems or diseases can increase the likelihood of successful outcomes.

Preventive care for dogs is key to maintaining a long and enjoyable life. We all know that dogs are family members and the the goal of any pet parent is to give their dog a good quality of life. Investing in preventive care now can not only help your dog avoid future injuries and illnesses, but preventive care can also help reduce healthcare costs. 

Dr. Mark Russak, 2012 President of the American Animal Hospital Association, pointed to the efforts of the Partnership for Preventive Pet Healthcare to promote the value of preventive care for dogs and cats. The partnership’s members are the AVMA, AAHA, AAFP, other veterinary associations, animal health companies, and other organizations.

“What is most perplexing is that so many dog and cat owners understand that routine check-ups and preventive health care are important for their pets,” Dr. Aspros said. “Nearly 90 percent of dog owners and 75 percent of cat owners surveyed indicated that routine check-ups and preventive care are either very or somewhat important.”

Still, despite this awareness, in 2011, almost 19 percent of dog owners did not take their dogs for a single veterinary visit. The primary reason given for not visiting a veterinarian during 2011 was that their pets did not get sick or injured.

HOW TO STRENGTHEN BONES AND JOINTS BY DOING PREVENTIVE CARE FOR DOGS

Traditional dog joint supplements (which use glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM) are good for lubricating the joints and assisting a dog with mobility. Veterinarians sometimes recommend these ingredients for senior dogs to improve joint comfort, but it’s important to note that these  products do not address bone health or the condition of the joint structure.

An all-in-one supplement like Boneo Canine (which uses a natural lactose-free milk protein called R-ELF instead of glucosamine) supports overall skeletal health -both the joints AND the bone. A product that provides comprehensive support can be excellent for preventive care. Boneo Canine works by promoting bone remodeling and turnover (for strong bones), supporting the joint structure (by stimulating cartilage synthesis), and maintaining joint comfort (by enhancing lubrication and helping manage inflammation). Boneo Canine also contains bone co-factors, bone minerals, and antioxidants for total bone and joint support.

You can read more on how to strengthen your dog's bones on our blog!

BONES ARE A MINERAL BANK!

One of the other benefits of using Boneo Canine as a preventive measure is that it helps support proper absorption of minerals in your dog’s body. The bone provides for the storage and release of minerals in the body. The best analogy is to think of the bone as a bank, where minerals are the official currency that ensures that the account has a “positive balance”. If the bone is functioning properly, it will release minerals as needed to support various functions in the body (from nerve impulses to digestion to even regulating sleep patterns).

If, for any reason (including aging), the bone “bank” becomes deficient in minerals, the demand or “cost” to support the body’s functions remains the same. In some instances, the demands even increase.  As a result, the bank may not be able to meet the demand and, as a result, the body can go into mineral “bankruptcy” and the bones can become structurally weak. This is why it is important to replenish the bone’s minerals.

MY DOG FELL OFF THE BED AND IS LIMPING. IS A BONE & JOINT SUPPLEMENT GOING TO HELP?

Small dogs and older dogs tend to underestimate their size or condition and can really hurt themselves by jumping off a couch or bed. Whenever your dog is hurt, you should always take them to your veterinarian to rule out fracture or serious injury. Otherwise, it may be beneficial to give your dog a bone and joint supplement like Boneo Canine. While a supplement like this is not intended to cure an injury or condition (rather it is designed to “supplement” the dog’s diet and health regimen) it can help strengthen and build up small, fragile, or weak bones. A stronger skeletal system, by default, is healthier than a weaker skeletal system.  

DO PUPPIES AND YOUNGER DOGS NEED SUPPLEMENTS?

Pet parents sometimes do not become concerned with giving their puppy a bone supplement because “they’re still a puppy.” However, getting a younger dog on a bone and joint supplement during their growing years (especially large breeds) can be beneficial. For dogs under six months, generally a well-balanced and good quality puppy diet provides sufficient amounts of vitamins, minerals and nutrients for growth and development. In these instances, unless you have a rapidly growing large breed puppy or one on a homemade diet that is not providing enough nutrients, you may not need a supplement.

Once the dog is over a year old, it’s definitely a good idea to start thinking about a preventive supplementation. Dogs that are genetically prone to bone and joint issues can often benefit from strengthening their skeletal systems early on, and very active dogs can often tire themselves out and cause wear and tear. A bone and joint supplement can help in addressing this.

When it comes to your dog’s health a little can go a long way. By starting your dog on the proper preventive supplements while they are young, you can help keep their skeletal system strong and support their healthy growth and development. Your dog’s bone health is important, so talk to your veterinarian to find out what’s the best supplement for your dog.  

About the Author

Bevi Edlund, Blog Editor

Hi, I'm Bevi Edlund. I'm a graduate of communications and journalism from Cal State University, Fullerton. I am also an animal rights activist and a huge dog lover! I think there is nothing more comforting than coming home after a long day than to your furry best friend. Here at Bio-Rep Animal Health, I'll be in charge of writing posts about lifestyle, nutrition and connecting with all of our readers.