Taking Care Of Your Dogs' Health
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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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- adp_description_block455Nutrition for Large- and Giant-Breed Adult Dogs
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Healthy joints and proper weight are especially important for dogs that grow to be more than 50 pounds. But not all large- and giant-breed adult dogs have the same nutritional needs. Is your dog getting proper exercise? Is she about to have puppies? Special conditions can dramatically affect your dog’s nutritional demands. Giving her a food specially formulated for her large size, life stage and activity level is the easiest way to make sure she’s getting the nutrients she needs.
Choosing a Food for Overall Health
To address the special needs of your large- or giant-breed dog, look for these features:
- Less fat to help maintain an ideal body condition for less joint stress
- Vitamin-rich fish oils for healthy skin, shiny coat and overall health
- Essential vitamins and minerals to help support the immune system and help maintain good health
- High-quality animal-based protein sources to help maintain muscle tone
- A moderately fermentable fiber source, such as beet pulp, to maintain intestinal health, enhance your dog's ability to absorb nutrients, and reduce backyard cleanup
- A carbohydrate blend to help sustain energy by maintaining normal blood sugar levels
These components are key to good nutrition. Look for them in treats, wet dog food, or dry dog food, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Adult Large Breed.
Maintaining Healthy Joints and Cartilage
Joint health is a big concern for owners of large- and giant-breed dogs. A large- or giant-breed formula that contains high-quality protein can help nourish healthy joints. Vitamins and minerals help promote the production of cartilage. Also, keeping your dog at a healthy weight will help minimize joint stress.
Guarding Against Weight Gain
Dogs with lower activity levels and dogs that have been neutered or spayed are all prone to weight gain. Controlling your dog’s weight is an important step toward protecting against the health effects of excess weight, such as diabetes or joint health problems. If you use a weight-management food, look for these characteristics:
- A reduced fat level that still offers essential nutrients for skin and coat health
- L-carnitine, a key nutrient that helps burn fat and maintain muscle mass during weight loss
- Special carbohydrate blends that help maintain energy while managing weight
- Vitamin-rich fish oils for overall health
Providing Nutrition During Pregnancy
Pregnant dogs have substantial nutrition requirements. Starting in the seventh week of her pregnancy, a mother dog will need to increase her energy intake up to 50% by the time she gives birth and increase it even more when she starts nursing her puppies. Because she may lose her appetite at times, it's important that she eats a nutrient-dense food. A complete, balanced puppy formula can give her the extra nutrients she needs. But avoid puppy food created for large and giant breeds; these formulas contain specially adjusted levels of energy and minerals that may not be sufficient for a pregnant or nursing dog.
Switching to a Mature Diet
Dogs who grow to be more than 50 pounds are considered mature or senior at age 5 or 6, which is earlier than small-breed dogs. So, it’s critical to make a proactive transition to a specially formulated mature diet, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Mature Adult Large Breed, to help keep your dog healthy and active as she ages.
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