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Help your dog live a longer and healthier life Leslie Belfor | Thu, Jul 15 2010 01:27 PM

At its most basic level, the bond between dog and owner is as strong as any interspecies relationship. One man even dove into a marina to save his terrier from a shark attack in 2008. Now that’s love! And what better way to demonstrate that love for your dog than by extending his or her lifespan. With a smart combination of feeding and exercise, you can extend the amount of time you’ll enjoy together, experts say.

Find the Right Food

“Nutrition is the foundation of canine health. The best food should be based on your dog’s needs: age, weight, mental or physical problems and, to a lesser degree, breed. There is no one food that can provide all the nutritional needs for all dogs,” says Mark Poveromo, a pet food retailer who has written about the industry.

Scrutinize food labels, to find items high in omega-3 fatty acids and proteins instead of grains or carbohydrates. These help ensure long-term health and ward off certain diseases.

Look for foods with labels listing specific proteins and not generic information. “For example, trout is better than a generic fish meal, says Poveromo. 

Exercise Together

Daily exercise is a vital part of any dog’s health prospects. But don’t simply let your dog into the back yard and wait for it to start running around.  Dogs require more interactive exercise regimens involving long walks and toys. Teaching your dog to retrieve can make this regimen even easier. These types of exercises help them learn to rest calmly while improving bone, joint, lung and heart health. 

Become the Dog Chef

Nowhere does it say you can only feed your dog the contents of a can. Feel free to take a more hands-on approach. By including certain basic and pure foods like chicken and vegetables, you can help fix many issues involving odor, weight and allergies. High-quality, pure ingredients are easier to digest and less taxing to your dog’s system. 

“And it’s critical to supplement your dog’s diet,” adds Poveromo. “A multi-vitamin/mineral (liquid preferred) is a must. An immune system builder should also be a strong consideration.”

Monitoring your dog’s nutrition and exercise can contribute to a long and healthy life. And it’s much easier than fending off a shark attack.

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