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For a growing number of families, a pet is more than an animal to take care of; It is a furry family member that deserves the best care, love, and attention possible. Being part of the family doesn’t just mean that your pup gets his share of dog-friendly birthday parties and Halloween costumes, though. He also needs proper care, nutrition, and support to be fully happy and healthy. Here are four things you can do right now to help your furriest family member thrive.

1. Feed an Appropriate Diet

Dogs may ask hopefully — or outright beg — for table food, but giving in may not provide them with the nutrients needed for proper growth and development. Commercial dog food is formulated to provide the correct balance of vitamins, minerals, and macros for optimal canine health. With the wide range of available options, you aren’t limited to a specific brand or flavor. If you do decide to cook meals for your dog, be sure to carefully research nutrients and discuss your choice with your vet.

Even with a balanced diet, some dogs may still need additional support. Luckily, there are excellent supplements available to help you keep your furry friend in top shape. Here are a few ways supplementation can help:

  • Joint Pain: Products like glucosamine and chondroitin improve mobility while decreasing pain and discomfort.
  • Anxiety: If your pup gets anxious around loud noises or in unfamiliar places, you might consider treats made with CBD oil for dogs to help provide a sense of calm.
  • Omega Fatty Acids: Dogs with dry, itchy skin or a lackluster coat may benefit from adding an Omega 3-6-9 supplement. Look for one with a good balance and sustainably sourced ingredients.

2. Schedule an Annual Physical

There has been increased awareness of the importance of preventative medicine recently. What you may not realize is that it also carries over to your pets. An annual trip to the vet is a central part of that care. Your vet will look them over for any signs of joint problems and skin or coat abnormalities. He may also assess your pet’s weight and assign a body condition score.

In addition to a physical exam, the vet may perform blood tests and collect a stool sample, These often check for parasites such as heartworms. Depending on your dog’s age and overall health status, you may also need other tests performed. Vaccinations for distemper, parvovirus, and kennel cough are pretty standard, and others may be recommended based on your specific situation. A current rabies shot is required in many places, so be sure to keep that up to date as well.

3. Make Daily Exercise a Habit

Most dogs do well with a certain amount of exercise each day. How much exercise they need can vary based on breed, age, and health conditions. Since you and your pet both need to move on a daily basis to achieve the best health, why not exercise together? Try taking a minimum of daily walk to get primed for the day instead of simply opening the back door for your pup in the morning.

If walking isn’t your thing, there are lots of other ways you can exercise your pet, such as swimming. Games can also be a great outlet for energy. Fetch and tug-of-war can be fun if done safely. Agility courses and sports like treibball release energy and help hone obedience skills.

4.  Invest in Training Classes

Just like human children, fur babies benefit from some structure and gentle discipline. Formal obedience classes are great tools for teaching basics like sit, stay, and no. They can also be a safe way to properly socialize your dog, regardless of his age. Reach out to local trainers and see what types of programs they offer. You are bound to find one that fits your schedule and your pup’s personality.

Your dog is part of your family, so it makes sense that you want him to be healthy and happy. Focusing on preventative health care, providing opportunities for regular exercise, and feeding a proper diet will go a long way to meeting that goal.

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