Something I love about having a dog is that she not only teaches me about growing old gracefully, but she frequently gets me to go through mental checklists. Is she getting enough fiber? How much fiber am I getting? Is it time to change the supplements for her hips and dry skin or add more? Should I be taking a daily baby aspirin? We owe it to ourselves and our furry companions to spend a little time asking questions about our own health.
October is National Pet Wellness Month. The holidays and cold winter months are ahead, this is the perfect time to stop and consider your dog's health, and yours too. Besides..isn't taking a "wellness day" a lot more fun than a "sick day?"
Here are a few things to consider that could apply to both my dog Cleo and I:
- Weight. Wait! Weight? 53% of adult dogs are said to be overweight by their veterinarians. Prevention is worth a pound of cure, and it's always a good time to create an exercise plan for you and your dog. You can customize your plan for winter or summer weather. Stretch together in the morning. Take play breaks and keep your dog from being bored by incorporating hide and seek games in the house. Help prevent weight gain and learn healthy habits together.
- Annual Exams. Use your calendar program on your smartphone or your computer, but set up a reminder to get that doctor appointment set. Do what it takes to stay on top of routine check-ups for you and your dog. It's easy to let time slip by and then you are reacting to a problem that might have been avoided, or at least lessened. Remember that dogs age faster than humans. They need to get check-ups twice a year when they become senior in age (usually about 5 years, but check with your vet.) Catching a bump when it is still small, and testing it, could make all the difference in the world for you or your dog.
- Good Food and Balanced Diet. As we get older our nutritional needs change, and supplements might be a good idea. Smaller quantities of red meat, but of a higher quality, is easier for people and dogs to digest. Maybe you've grown to not tolerate gluten the way you once did. Dogs develop allergies as they get older as well. Taking the time to review eating habits and ensuring a balanced diet is in place, is always a good idea. It's all about balance and trying to including whole foods in your daily meal plan.
Does having a dog help you remember to take better care of your own health? I'd love to hear your feedback in the comments!