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Dog owners have a special place in their hearts for their furry friends. From choosing a name to finding the comfiest bed, pet parents usually go above and beyond for the snuggliest member of the family. Sometimes, though, even owners who have the best intentions can slip into some bad habits that can harm their pets.
We often make sure that we’re following proper pet care recommendations to ensure our family’s best furry friend will live a long and happy life. But even with the best intentions, some ways we prefer to spoil our pets can be problematic, and we don’t often pay enough attention to the environment our dogs are living in.
Pet experts say that these are the 10 most common habits that can be harmful to your dog.
Dog obesity from overeating can lead to a variety of health problems, including osteoarthritis, congestive heart failure, skin disorders and difficulty breathing. That’s why it’s important to keep your dog’s diet in check. Check your dog regularly: she should have a little bit of a waist, but if her bowel movements get softer throughout the day, this might indicate a problem.
When considering how much to feed your dog, the American Kennel Club recommends considering four factors: the dog’s breed, age, size and energy level. As a general rule, most dogs should be fed twice a day. Puppies and larger dogs may need to eat more often based on their size and nutrition needs. But, the most important thing to consider is how much dog food is given at each meal.
PetMD notes that most dog food cans or bags have a weight-to-serving chart to help owners dish out the right amount for their dog based on size and age. For example, one brand might say a dog of 3 pounds should eat about 1/3 cup, while a dog weighing 100 pounds should eat about 4 1/2 cups of food. However, you’ll have to adjust this based on your dog’s lifestyle.
Feeding The Dog From The Table
When we see those big puppy-dog eyes, it can be hard to say no to your begging four-legged friend. However, veterinarians strongly recommend avoiding feeding dogs human food, especially from the table.
In many cases, human food has too much fat for a dog’s digestive system to handle appropriately. Another reason to avoid human food for dogs is that many items have ingredients that can be harmful, or even fatal, for dogs.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) warns against giving many foods to dogs, including alcohol, avocado, chocolate, coffee (or anything with caffeine), citrus fruits, grapes or raisins, garlic and onions, xylitol sweeteners and raw meats. Consult the ASPCA website to get a full list of what you should not feed your dogs.
Beyond the negative health impact, giving human food to dogs often encourages begging behaviors, which can become a nuisance when excessive.
Giving Dogs Rawhide Bones
While rawhide bones are not poisonous, many vets and pet care experts advise against using the popular treat for dogs. Fetch by WebMD notes that E. coli or salmonella contamination is a possibility with rawhide treats and bones.
The AKC advises that rawhide isn’t easily digested and has a tendency to break into pieces that are too large for a dog to swallow, causing a choking hazard. Some dogs may handle rawhides fine if they chew them into small pieces, but you may not want to risk gastrointestinal problems and blockage.
Not Properly Storing Household Cleaners
Keeping your home clean and tidy is good for everyone’s health. However, while using household cleaners, you want to make sure to keep them out of the reach of your dog. Many of the chemicals used in ordinary cleaners, such as bleach, alcohol and hydrogen peroxide, are toxic to animals.
“If you are washing the floor and the phone rings and you pick it up and go sit on the couch to talk, your dog or cat could be playing with that water, knocking it over, licking it,” said Dr. Barbara Hodges of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association on the organization’s website. “When you’re cleaning, you should only be cleaning.”
Not Giving Your Dog Enough Exercise
Once dogs are potty-trained, they have a routine for walks or going out to take care of their business outside. However, did you know that much like people, dogs need more playtime and exercise than you think?
Like people, dogs need activity to keep their bodies healthy and trim. Without it, dogs may become obese, which can lead to a number of health risks in the long term.
Active playtime, both indoors and outside, can help dogs manage anxiety, build and maintain muscle strength and ensure joints are healthy.
“Doctors say a sedentary lifestyle is the new smoking, and it’s similar with dogs,” licensed veterinary technician Beckie Mossor told BeChewy. “These are preventable problems.”
Allowing Your Dog To Go Off-Leash Without Supervision
When walking your dog or taking him outside to play, it might sound like a good idea to allow him to go off-leash so he can be more active. Experts warn that a number of factors need to be considered before letting a dog off a leash or harness. Any time a dog goes off-leash, there are risks involved, including the fact that the dog could run off and get hurt by vehicles, other dogs or wildlife.
In Preventive Vet, certified dog trainer Cathy Madson shared a list of questions for dog owners to consider before a dog is allowed outside without a leash. At the top of the list? Make sure your pet is spayed or neutered, as well as tagged or microchipped. If going off-leash is legal in your area, take a look at some of Madson’s behavior training tips to get your dog ready to go.
Bathing Your Dog Incorrectly
It can be a struggle to get your dog to take a bath, but changing your habits might help keep this time of the week drama-free. VetStreet suggests making bath time easier by not running the water in earshot of the dog, keeping the water temperature warm (not too hot or cold), and never using human hair shampoo for dogs. The chemicals in human shampoo can be too harsh for dogs’ skin. This can lead to irritation and breakouts.
Drying Your Dog Improperly
Once your dog is squeaky clean, make sure to dry him the right way!
After gentle towel drying (do not rub vigorously), some groomers recommend using a blow dryer. However, you must be careful. Sometimes in the rush of getting the job done quickly, the instinct is to go fast and hot with the dryer settings. This can lead to burning your dog’s skin. Writing for PetHelpful, dog groomer Willow Mattox suggests using a warm setting on the highest airflow speed possible.
Trimming Your Dog’s Nails Wrong
The most common error people make with their dogs’ nails is not trimming them enough. When the nails get too long, they get painful and can even cause arthritis, according to Dogs Naturally Magazine.
Owners often worry about cutting the nails too far (into the quick), which can also cause bleeding and pain. If you don’t want to send your dog to a groomer to get the nails trimmed, take a look at the instructional video from Dogs Naturally Magazine. All you need is a pliers-style nail cutter and maybe a pet nail grinder to give a safe nail trim.
Forgetting About Your Dog’s Teeth
Dogs can’t brush their own teeth. They need our help. But, we often forget that those teeth need attention. The problem with that is when neglected, a dog can develop periodontal disease and bacteria can lead to a heart infection called endocarditis.
“I think most people don’t even look in their dog’s mouths, much less brush their teeth,” veterinarian Julie Cappel told Reader’s Digest.
Cappel recommends a soft toothbrush, soft cloth or piece of gauze to wipe down your dog’s teeth once or twice a week. No toothpaste is required! And, if possible, start this routine when your dog is young, so it becomes a healthy habit that your dog doesn’t dread.
By Marie Rossiter, for Newsy.
About Newsy: Newsy is the nation’s only free 24/7 national news network. You can find Newsy using your TV’s digital antenna or stream for free. See all the ways you can watch Newsy here: https://bit.ly/Newsy1
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