Here's what you need to know about your dog’s health as he matures from 1 to 8 years:
Your dog is growing up. Louise Murray, DVM, director of the ASPCA's Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City and author of Vet Confidential (Ballantine, 2008), gives advice on how to keep your dog in tip-top shape.
Adult Dog Health: Preventive Health. Even if your dog appears fit, see your veterinarian once a year for a checkup. "Most health problems are more readily and less expensively addressed if you catch them early," Murray says. What's more, your vet can detect problems that you might miss. You can also stay up to date on vaccination boosters.
Adult Dog Health: Flea, Tick, and Heartworm Medicines. Continue to use preventive medicines. Talk to your veterinarian if you've moved or if your lifestyle has changed to make sure you are using the products best suited for your dog.
Adult Dog Health: Diet. Your pet needs the right food for optimal health. Check with your vet about adjusting the type and amount of food that your dog eats.
Adult Dog Health: Dental Health. If you haven't done so already, get in the habit of cleaning your dog's teeth daily. "Animals who get gingivitis or inflammation of the gums can end up with problems of the kidneys and the heart," Murray explains. Get your dog accustomed to having your fingers and hands around her mouth. At the pet store, you'll find dog toothbrushes and finger brushes as well as dog toothpaste.
Adult Dog Health: Weight Gain/Loss. When your dog steps on the scale at her annual visit, weight gain (rather than loss) is more likely to be the problem. Meals usually are not the culprit. It's the things, such as biscuits and human food, she gets in between. "It all adds up," Murray says. As your pet gets older, she becomes less active, which can contribute to weight gain and a host of other problems (diabetes, arthritis, and breathing trouble, for instance). But there's another reason to keep an eye on the scale: Weight loss might signal an underlying health problem.
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How much do you know about the food you’re buying for your puppy? When shopping for puppy food, pay attention to these three sections of a dog food label.
1. The Ingredient Panel
This section lists all the ingredients that make up the product. The ingredients are listed in descending order according to weight before cooking. In dry food, look for a source of high-quality animal-based protein: chicken or lamb, for example. Dogs thrive on animal proteins.
Manufacturers who use large amounts of vegetable proteins might be saving money by providing basic — but not optimal — nutrition. You should also avoid artificial colors and flavors, which offer no nutritional benefits.
2. The Guaranteed Analysis
Near the ingredient panel should be a chart of percentages called the "guaranteed analysis." These figures reveal the basic nutrient makeup of the dog food's formula and protein content. The minimum percentages of protein and fat and the maximum percentages of fiber and moisture (water) should be listed.
3. The Manufacturer’s Name and Address
This information must be included on the label by law. A toll-free number or web address for the manufacturer may also be listed. Manufacturers who list a phone number, such as IAMS™, generally have a high-quality product and welcome consumer calls and questions. If you would like information about IAMS products, visit our website or call us toll-free at 800-525-4267.
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