Self-care is something we all hear about often. After all, you can’t pour water from an empty glass. Self-care isn’t just about pampering yourself, even though that can be part of it. It’s about doing the things required to keep yourself mentally and physically healthy, so you can do what you want and need to do.
Humans aren’t the only creatures who need self-care to live their best lives. Self-care is also important for our dogs. It is up to us to make sure our dogs are getting all the things they need to live mentally and physically complete lives.
The relationships we have with our dogs are symbiotic ones. Our moods and our health affect our dogs, as much as their wellbeing affects ours. Our dogs sense our stress just as we suffer when they are sick. Establishing self-care routines is essential, and we can even combine our self-care, which will strengthen the bond we have with our canine companions.
Let’s talk about what self-care entails. We’ll discuss how we can help maintain this routine for our dogs and how our dog’s routine will help us. We’ll also talk about some of the trickier aspects of self-care and how we can make these experiences less stressful for our dogs.
What Goes Into Your Dog’s Self-Care?
Exercise is vital to maintaining a healthy body and a healthy mind. A good exercise routine will help your dog eliminate excessive energy, which alleviates behavioral problems. It helps your dog maintain a healthy body weight. This will be important as your dog ages as extra weight equates to more pressure on aging joints and is a common factor in many diseases.
Letting our dogs out in the yard or taking them out quickly to potty is not the type of exercise they need. Turn these sessions into 15 to 20-minute walks a few times a day. For dogs with higher energy requirements, schedule a long walk or hike into your day. If you feel you cannot provide your dog with the exercise they need, look into a professional dog walker. This way, your dog gets his or her needs met, and you can alleviate the stress of trying to squeeze a long walk into an already packed schedule.
A Healthy Diet
A high-quality diet is important to maintaining good health. This doesn’t mean you need to jump into the newest fads. Feed your dog a high-quality food from a reputable brand. Learn to read labels so you know exactly what is in your dog’s food instead of falling for gimmicky advertising. Swap out high-calorie additive-filled treats for healthier single ingredient items.
Many dogs love vegetables, and you can spice up your dog’s diet with things like pureed pumpkin, carrots, blueberries, and green beans. You can even add the occasional item like sardines or a chicken breast.
As long as you’re replacing your dog’s treats with healthier options, why not get enough produce or lean meat for two? You and your dog can embark on a journey to healthier eating together.
Dogs and humans are both very social species. Socializing is important for our mental health, managing anxiety, and our brains getting enough stimulation. At least a few times a week, our dogs should be socializing with other people and dogs in some way. Whether it’s a trip to the dog park, a playdate with a pal, or doggie daycare, our dogs need to socialize.
If your dog was not adequately socialized as a puppy, you may have difficulty at first, since your dog won’t know proper dog “etiquette” or may be fearful. This is exactly why your dog needs to meet other dogs. Dogs who are not properly socialized suffer from higher rates of anxiety, suffer stress around new people, and are afraid of new environments. Introduce them slowly, and do not force them to stay in a situation where they are fearful. You may even want to consider working with a trainer to make things easier on your dog.
Social time for your dog is also good for you. You can totally meet new people at the dog park. You have an excuse to have a standing date with a friend, and you have a reason to get out of the house.
Hygiene is a part of self-care we may not think about in relation to our dogs, but it is very important. Grooming, baths, tooth brushing, and nail trims are all a part of a healthy routine.
Ideally, your dog’s teeth should be brushed 3 times a week or more to prevent dental disease. Ease your dog into it by getting a soft-bristled toothbrush for dogs and allowing them to sniff at it and even lightly chew it. Slowly start getting them used to the sensation of the brush moving on their teeth. Now you can put the toothpaste (designed for dogs) on the brush and start cleaning their teeth. This process may take a few weeks to get them used to.
Regularly brushing their coat removes old shed hair and is a relaxing way to bond with your dog. With the appropriate tools, you will eliminate tangles that could turn into painful mats, help spread the natural oils through your dog’s hair and skin, and your dog will love every bit of attention they get from you.
Once or twice a month is generally enough for baths. You may prefer to use a groomer, but if you do choose to bathe your dog at home, remember to stay calm, use lukewarm water, and give your dog plenty of treats. Your dog may never learn to love baths, but they can be convinced to at least tolerate them.
No one is a fan of going to the vet (or the doctor), but routine exams are an important part of preventative healthcare. Make sure you schedule your dog for their yearly check-ups. This will help you catch any health problems before they spiral out of control.
It’s only fair if your dog is getting a check-up that you do so as well. Make it easy on yourself by scheduling your yearly exam around the same time as your dog’s. Your dog wants, and needs, you to be healthy for a long time.