Happy dog outsiide

Keeping your dog happy and healthy

There are several things to consider when deciding to get a dog. Big or small, what kind of breed, young or old are just a few of the choices.

When it comes to things like tick preventative or heartworm medications, many pet owners are uninformed. We're getting the facts on medications to give you a better understanding of your pet's needs.

If you take your dog to a boarding facility, pet daycare or even just the dog park, there are a series of health requirements the dog must meet before they can stay. For those owners who don't plan to board their dog or even have it outside frequently, they may wonder why certain recommendations are necessary. We're getting the facts from Dr. Jeff Werber, veterinarian, animal lover and developer of Pro-Sense pet products.

Myth: My dog isn't exposed to other dogs, so it doesn't need vaccinations

Vaccinations are a hot topic today for both people and animals. Many pet owners may opt out of getting their dogs vaccinated, but there are some things you should know first. "Vaccinations are responses to core deadly diseases that are endemic to certain areas. Often these diseases are airborne and can be spread without direct contact. Distemper, for example, is airborne and also can be spread through contact with feces. Since it is an airborne virus, your inside dog can still contract it through an exchange of air (an open window)," Dr. Werber said. More area-specific vaccines like those for rattlesnake bites or Lyme disease may not be necessary for your dog if the problem isn't a threat in your area. It's best to talk with your vet to determine what your pet needs. Pets can get loose or escape from yards, so even if you don't plan to let your dog out, it may be wise to prepare for all circumstances.

Many other diseases are spread through feces. Believe it or not, many dogs have no problem snacking on what we humans consider to be off-limits. Even dogs that aren't exhibiting symptoms may be harboring the disease, and it could be present in their feces. From pet stores to dog parks, your dog has a chance of coming into contact with another dog's waste.

Myth: My dog never goes outside, so it's safe from fleas and heartworm

Heartworm is contracted when an infected mosquito bites your dog. As most people are well aware, mosquitoes have a knack for finding their way in our homes and biting us many times while we sleep. "Heartworm prevention should be used, due to the possibility of a mosquito-transmitted disease (as it could even come in contact through an open window) — and for fleas as well, since even indoor dogs can become hosts for fleas that enter the house," Dr. Werber said.

Get to know your vet

The best way to know what your pet does or doesn't need is to develop a good relationship with a veterinarian you can trust. A vet will know your pet's history, the area that you live in and some of the elements of your lifestyle that may impact your pet's health. Be open and honest and willing to ask questions to help determine what is best for your pet. Exercise, a healthy diet and proper veterinary care will go a long way to keeping your dog healthy, whether they stay inside or outside.

Get informed! Here are five questions to ask your vet >>

Vet Tip

Dr. Werber is a big believer in supplements for pets. He recommends talking to your veterinarian about options that may boost your pet's overall health and prevent issues in the future.

More tips for dog lovers

Your dog's surgery: What to expect
Confronting the dog obesity epidemic
What's a healthy weight for dogs?

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