But as much as we might try to avoid toxins in our environment and feed as healthy a diet as we can, at some point it is likely that our dogs will experience illness of some kind.
Of course, dogs cannot communicate to us when they are feeling sick, and are even known to try to hide their illnesses from us. Therefore, it is up to us to be on the lookout for subtle changes in their behavior that can give us clues to their health.
Preventative Care for a Lifetime of Health
Just like with people, the best way to keep our dogs healthy is with preventative care.
My dog, Chase, has bi-annual “wellness exams”, which include a complete checkup from our vet and full blood and urine workups. These exams ensure that I can continually monitor his health and catch anything that might be wrong at an early stage.
Providing your pooch with fresh, nutritious foods is also vital to keeping him in peak health.
A biologically appropriate, fresh, balanced and nutrient-rich diet is critical to keeping our dogs’ immune systems boosted and their bodies running at peak performance.
I am also a huge proponent of a fresh, raw food diet, and I love the convenience and nutritious aspects of raw frozen dog food . Chase has colitis, and thanks to a natural, raw food diet, we have been able to control his dog diarrhea with proper nutrition, rather than having to keep him on a steady stream of medications.
Buy raw dog food online.
Regular exercise is also very important. Of course, some breeds require more exercise than others.
Spaying and Neutering for Health
Spaying and neutering is also beneficial to your dog’s health, besides being the solution to massive over-population that results in the unnecessary euthanasia of millions of dogs each year. According to The American Veterinary Medical Association and others, most puppies can safely be spayed or neutered as early as 8 weeks of age.
Spaying in females has health benefits that include preventing breast cancer (mammary tumors), eliminating the risk of uterine infections, uterine or ovarian cancer and some skin disorders. Neutering in males can prevent testicular disease and greatly lessen the risk of prostate disease.1
I can personally attest to the benefits of neutering as it relates to prostate disease, since I experienced this firsthand a few years ago with Chase.
When my husband and I adopted Chase from the shelter (when he was about a year old), they told us that he was neutered, and indeed he looked neutered. But during a routine physical exam when Chase was five, the doctor found that he had an enlarged prostate. When the doctor told us that neutered dogs really do not get enlarged prostates, we were all very confused. Our vet then performed a special blood test to determine if Chase still had his testacles, and we found out that he did!
Apparently, Chase had “undescended testacles”, which means that they never dropped, so they were not visible. However, they were still there!
It was a tough decision for us to put him through the neutering operation at five years old, but our vet was firm that if we didn’t, he could one day develop prostate disease, including possible prostate cancer. I am very happy to report that as soon as Chase was neutered, the size of his prostate shrunk back to normal, and it has remained that way ever since.
For the more serious dog illnesses that are beyond the scope of this site, I will provide you with links to further reading. Of course, in all instances of dog illnesses, the proper course of action is to take your dog to his veterinarian as quickly as possible for diagnoses and proper treatment.
Traditional vs. Holistic Veterinarian: Which is Right for You?
There are both allopathic (traditional Western-medicine) veterinarians and holistic veterinarians, and each will provide a different viewpoint as to how to treat your dog. Chase actually has both an allopathic and a holistic vet (at two different veterinary clinics), because I enjoy the freedom of being able to make decisions based on both sets of opinions.
The type of vet you choose is an important decision. However, if you find that your traditional veterinarian is quick to immediately treat all dog illness with drugs and is not open to discussing more natural approaches, you might want to consider also getting the opinion of a holistic veterinarian.
Chase has both a traditional and a homeopathic veterinarian, because I think it is important to have the benefit of both outlooks and opinions.
You might try doing the same!
1 American Red Cross Dog First Aid, Safety Series Vol. 2
If your pet is showing any signs of distress or you suspect your pet is seriously ill, contact your veterinarian immediately. This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care.