Dogs bring tons of love and joy to your life, but they depend on you to stay healthy. To keep your pet safe and sound for years to come, start with the basics.
Dog-Proof Your Home
Check that your home is safe for your pet — ideally before you bring them home. For instance, secure any electrical cords they might chew on, keep toilet lids closed, and make sure they can’t get into any medication or household cleaners. Got a pool in your yard? If your pup can’t or hasn’t learned how to swim, think about getting a pool fence or a motion detector system that will go off if they fall into the water. Also, double-check that your pet can’t get to any human food, some of which is toxic for dogs. If they are especially curious, you might want to use child-proof latches to secure cabinets and trash cans.
Get on a Vaccination Schedule
Just like for people, vaccines are one of the surest ways to protect your pup’s health. They prevent serious, highly contagious diseases like parvo, distemper, and rabies, which can be fatal. The schedule and shots they need will vary, based on their health issues and where you live, so talk to your vet about what to get. In general, most puppies should get their first set of shots around 6 weeks, and then every 3 weeks until they are 16 weeks old. Adult dogs need to be revaccinated every 1 to 3 years.
Choose the Right Food
Your dog’s age, weight, health, and activity level matter when it comes to what they eat. In general, make sure the food you choose has a statement from the Association of American Feed Control Officials on the label. That means it’s nutritionally “complete and balanced.” Beware of feeding your dog bones, raw meat, or raw eggs. The American Veterinary Medical Association, the CDC, and other groups warn that raw foods can lead to serious health problems for animals, like infection with E. coli and other harmful bacteria. Bones can tear a dog’s stomach or intestines.