Owning a dog is a huge commitment – and not something you can click pause on.
As an owner, you are responsible for your dog’s mental and physical health as they’re not able to provide for themselves in the same way you can.
A Blue Cross vet has shared the simple way owners can help improve their dog’s health – and it won’t eat up much time or money.
Head of veterinary services at Blue Cross, Caroline Reay told The Mirror: “Good dental hygiene, along with weight control, are the two most effective ways to improve your dog’s health.”
Owners can pick up dog tooth paste from well-known retailers for about £2.99, giving them next to no excuse on why they haven’t been brushing their dog’s teeth.
She added: “Dogs use their mouths for more than just eating; they use them to play, explore and taste a lot of their surroundings too. So if your dog’s teeth aren’t properly cared for, it can start to cause problems.
“If your dog’s teeth are not regularly cleaned, the plaque will build up and turn into tartar.
“This has a solid, brown, gritty look and feel and can lead to inflammation and tenderness which is no fun for your dog to contend with while trying to eat. It can also go on to cause gingivitis and gum disease.
“Brushing your dog’s teeth daily with a special dog toothbrush and toothpaste is the best way to keep your dog’s dental hygiene in check. Don’t use human toothpaste as this contains chemicals that can be toxic to dogs.”
However as some dogs will not tolerate having their teeth brushed every day, Caroline suggests giving them a dental chew alongside their “suitable diet”.
“The dental chews should be the correct size for your dog; if they are too small they can be a choking hazard. Avoid hard chews, bone and stones that can wear down or break teeth,” she said.
“Bear in mind that many dental chews are high in calories; so reduce your dog’s normal food intake accordingly so that they don’t put on weight.”
But teeth brushing isn’t the only way owners can improve their dog’s health as keeping them up-to-date with their treatments and vaccinations will help too.
RSPCA dog welfare expert Esme Wheeler said: “There are lots of simple steps that dog owners can take to keep their pets happy and healthy, including keeping on top of preventative care like worming, flea treatment and vaccinations; brushing their teeth; and ensuring they have regular vet check-ups.
“One of the most important ways to help your dog lead a long, happy and healthy life is to keep a close eye on their diet and their weight.
“Sadly, we know a lot of owners don’t understand the importance of this and around 50 per cent of the nation’s dogs and cats are overweight. Obesity can shorten a pet’s life expectancy and cause serious health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and can trigger problems like arthritis.
“As a rough guide, you should be able to see and feel the outline of your dog’s ribs, see and feel their waist which should ‘pinch in’ when you look down from above. If you’re concerned about your pet’s weight, please speak to your vet.”