(Family Features) There are many emotional benefits to owning a dog, such as companionship and unconditional love, but a pet can also positively affect his or her owners’ physical health, too.
According to studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, spending quality time with a dog can help ease stress and anxiety for the owner and can even lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. To be able to reap the health benefits of dog ownership, it’s key to ensure you’re taking proper care of your dog with quality nutrition and plenty of exercise.
Veterinarian Dr. Jeff Werber offers these five simple ways pet owners can take the best care of their dogs, because when dogs are happy and healthy, their owners can be, too. To learn more about how dogs’ health is linked to their owners’, and for more tips for feeding your pet, visit IAMS.com.
- Check the Labels – Creating a healthier life for your dog starts with the food you feed him or her. For optimal health, provide your dog a balanced diet with high-quality animal protein, like chicken or lamb, a combination of grains and essential vitamins and minerals. When shopping for dog food, look for those things on the ingredient panel. Also keep an eye out for the Association of American Feed Control Officials certification, which indicates basic nutritional requirements are being met with the food’s ingredients.
- Give Them Grains – Grains are an important component of dogs’ dietary needs. They are a source of carbohydrates for healthy energy, as well as fiber, which promotes gastrointestinal health. Some grains, such as rice and wheat, provide “quick” energy, and others, like barley and sorghum, take longer to turn into energy. Dog food that has a combination of these grains, such as IAMS dog food, can provide dogs a “time-release” energy source, helping sustain their energy throughout the day.
- Keep It Consistent – While humans can try new restaurants and recipes on a whim, switching up your dog’s meals too frequently can cause intestinal problems. If a dog is doing fine on its current food, there’s no need to switch foods. However, if you think a change is needed, consult your veterinarian. If he or she suggests a change, be sure to introduce the new food gradually. Start by replacing 25% of the current food with new food for a couple days, a half-and-half mixture the next couple days then a mix of 75% new food and 25% old food for another 2-3 days. Your dog should then be ready to eat just the new food.
- Get Them Active – Just like humans, dogs need exercise. Walks are an important part of dogs’ days – not just for doing their business, but to expel some of that healthy energy. Knowing dogs need daily exercise is an easy health hack for pet owners. They can take their dogs on walks, runs, hikes or to a dog park, ultimately helping them get up and get active, too. Regular exercise and activity helps keep dogs’ muscles, bones and joints active.
- Quality Time – Taking good care of your dog extends beyond nutrition and exercise. A dog needs attention, interaction and love. After a busy day, spend some quality time with your pup, whether it’s a walk or snuggle time on the couch. Your pet will appreciate having time exclusively dedicated to him or her. Plus, it’s scientifically proven that spending time with your pet can decrease your stress and anxiety, too.
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