Five gifts to ensure happy, healthy dogs

F-3-Pet-health-SCBy Dr. Rod Block

Today’s modern world shows how much our relationship with animals has changed. Back before the mechanical wonders of industrialization, we relied upon animals to carry the brunt of our work. Their primary purpose was to haul loads, plow fields, and chase down prey. Today, tractors and other marvels of the post-industrial era have largely replaced the duties of the working animal. In a world where humans distance themselves more and more from one another, these animals have become our companions, family members, and closest confidantes.

More animal lovers – including dogs, horses and, yes, elephants – realize that they too suffer from spinal irregularities. With that in mind, here are some gift ideas for the furry family member who cannot tell you what it needs:

Dog harnesses: For those who haven’t already noticed, collars and choke chains hurt dogs that have a habit of pulling during walks. Collars centralize stress on their neck. Ideally, you should train your dog to not pull – there are how-to books and programs that can help. In the meantime, and even after successful training, a dog harness works best on that rare occasion when, for example, a squirrel piques their interest. Harnesses appropriately distribute weight throughout a canine’s torso. They’re also appropriate for cats on leashes.

Need a chiropractor? Some animals go many years before their caretakers realize they have a significant mobility problem or that there is an affordable solution. Many simply do not consider alternative health measures for their horse, dog, or cat; they think their only options are expensive, invasive surgery, or nothing. To spot problems early, always monitor how they walk and how they hold their head.

Don’t overfeed: An overfed dog or cat, just like an obese human, experiences damaging health consequences. Excess weight puts stress on the skeleton and joints and obese cats and dogs can get diabetes. Feed them the appropriate amount of pet food and do not feed them from the dinner table. If your dog has grown accustomed to begging at meal times, put him in another room when you sit down at the table. Our pets do not have the right digestion system for many human foods.

Dog beds: Consider what’s appropriate for your dog’s length, weight, and sleeping style. You wouldn’t give a child’s bed to a large adult. This knowledge will help you when confronted with the many styles of beds: bagel, doughnut, and bolster beds; cuddler or nest beds; dog couches; round, rectangle, or square beds; or elevated beds with frames. You should also consider manufacturer differences. Each may have its own definition of a large dog, for example.

Holistic options: As healthcare avenues have expanded for humans, so too have they for pets. Often, the answer for human and animal well-being is not an overload of prescription medication. Acupuncture is a valid option with no adverse side effects that has shown positive results, especially for large animals like horses. In general, use common sense; an overstressed environment is not good for any living thing. Consider researching the latest alternative health options for your animal.

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