Exercise and diet are best for a healthy dog

RENO, Nev. (KOLO)-- Just as with humans, dogs need exercise. Veterinarians say the amount depends upon your dog.

Yadi, a boxer. Photo by Audrey Owsley/KOLO.

Anywhere between 30 minutes and two hours a day is a great goal.

But it doesn't have to be a walk.

Dogs can get their exercise in by playing ball or other activity.

Exercises ties into the second recommendation: Weight.

Keeping your dog's weight down brings many benefits, like joint health, and avoiding diabetes.

“The thing is, no table scraps, no human food is best,” says Dr. Katie Cox with Fairgrounds Animal Hospital in Reno. “Limiting treats, I know they give you those cute little smiles. But the less they get, you can show them love in other way,” she says.

Dr. Cox says keeping your dog's teeth clean is another way to help him live longer. If you can't brush them, she says check with your vet to see if there is a dog chew that can help keep the teeth clean.

If that's not possible, your dog may need to have his teeth cleaned while under anesthetic at a vet's office. While it may not seem like a big deal, it can mean the difference between a full set of teeth and tooth loss, as well as an increased risk for heart and kidney disease.

Pet ownership can be expensive.

That's why some veterinarians suggest pet insurance.

There are plenty of options out there, and just like with human health insurance, your policy will have an impact on what is covered.

While an annual exam may fit into the family budget, pet insurance can help cover the cost of a major accident or disease.

Speaking of disease, there are plenty of parasites, bacteria and viruses that can impact your dog.

But most are preventable.

Your veterinarian can recommend medication for things like heartworm, fleas or ticks.

Vaccinations like rabies are required by law.

“It is very important to prevent them with vaccines instead of having to treat for that later,” says Dr. Cox.

You can't walk down a grocery store aisle without seeing all the gluten free products.

While some people do have gluten intolerance and been tested for it, others just think they shouldn't have the protein.

And they believe it’s the same for their dogs.

“A lot of it is a marketing ploy,” says Dr. Cox of the gluten free products for dogs. “I would talk to your veterinarian to see what is best. But don't believe everything you hear about gluten until you get the facts.”

Dr. Cox says dogs can be tested to see if they are indeed allergic to gluten.

If owners have any doubts they should get those tests so they can understand what is causing their dog's allergies.

Spay or neutering your dog is another way to keep your animal healthier.

Certain cancers and behaviors can be avoided with simple surgery.

There are low cost clinics to help pay for the procedure.

While this advice has been going on for decades, getting your dog’s DNA is another trend that humans are doing for themselves.

Why not their pet?

Yea, DNA is great,” says Dr. Cox. “It is something if you just want to know what type your dog is. It is also helpful to know, is it part of a breed that has some health problems in the future.”

There are at home DNA kits available.

Prices range from $60 to nearly $200.00 depending upon how in depth you'd like to go into your dog's ancestry.

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