Dog Health and Welfare Issues
Obesity - up to 40% of dogs are carrying too much weight. Obesity can result in serious health problems including diabetes, and can reduce your dogs quality of life and lifespan. If your dog is overweight, you might be surprised just how much small treats might be making your dog fat. Stop giving your dog unhealthy or fatty treats (such as cheese) and try feeding your dog green beans as a treat - most dogs really enjoy them (fresh or frozen). Learn about the ideal body shape for dogs by looking at the dog weight chart. Talk to your vet to ensure your dog is on the right diet for its age and lifestyle, and if you feed your dog a commercially made dog food, do your research to make sure that it is good quality .
Toxic treats - many people still feed their dogs chocolate as a treat - not realising that it can be toxic. Grapes are also dangerous, as are cooked bones. There are many safe and healthy alternatives are available, from carrot sticks to commercially prepared dog food repared dog treats (but do your research on the brand and the quality). Check a list of foods that are toxic to dogs here.
Lack of exercise and socialisation - dogs need regular exercise, and socialisation with people and other animals. Company and socialisation will ensure that your puppy or dog is physically and mentally healthy. Dogs are pack animals and can become very unhappy and can develop bad habits if left on their own regularly. They can also suffer from separation anxiety. Nearly 25% of dogs are left alone for 8-12+ hours every day. The statistics on exercise aren't great either. Sadly, less than 40% of dogs go for a walk each day.
- Walk your dog - Running around in your backyard is not enough. You should aim to walk your dog every day, but if you even manage to do one or two extra walks a week it will make a huge difference to your dog's quality of life. Dogs have an evolutionary need to walk and they need to be walk beyond your property with you to meet other people and dogs, and to experience the sights and smells of their territory.
- Does your dog pull on the lead? If walking your dog is an unpleasant experience it's worth thinking about dog or obedience training. You could also try a walking harness which can reduce pulling (for eg the Gentle Leader Easy Walk Harness - this type of harness is available from most pet product and accessory suppliers.
- Don't have time time to walk your dog? A short walk is always going to be better than no walk. You could try getting up just 20 minutes earlier in the morning, and have an invigorating walk before going to work or school. Research shows that people who have dogs get more exercise walking their dog than people with a membership at the gym!
- No motivation? If you can just get started you'll soon start loving your dog walks. Do a search on your smartphone for 'dog walk' and you'll find apps that will not only help motivate you, but set fitness goals, keep track of your walks and even count calories.
Lack of preventative vet care - It's important that dogs are given basic vet care - many suffer from worms, fleas, and aren't given the recommended vaccinations.
If you are worried about the health of your dog, contact your local emergency vet - search by location.
Find Australian Veterinary Practices and Animal health services here.