August 26th is National Dog Day, so today I want to do something different and focus on our four-legged furbabies. The US is a nation of dog lovers, with more than one in three households in the US having a dog, and they deserve celebrating!
Having a Dog is Good for You
Did you know that there are many health benefits associated with owning a dog? Studies have linked dog ownership to:
– Lower blood pressure
– Lower cholesterol
– Lower triglyceride levels
– Fewer heart attacks (and better survival after heart attacks that do occur)
– Lower levels of depression
That’s a lot right there, but there’s even more. Dog owners are more likely to be fit less in part because they must give their dog regular exercise. Living with a dog reduces stress, which is good for your emotional, mental, and physical health. Having a dog also elicits feelings of love, companionship, and belonging.
Finally, many dogs perform specific duties for their owners, everything from acting as a set of eyes for the visually impaired to alerting diabetic owners of dangerously high or low blood sugar levels to providing emotional support for people with mental health needs, and much, much more. It’s not a leap to say that dogs have saved many lives, as well as drastically improved quality of life for many people.
Keeping Your Dog’s Teeth Clean and Healthy is Important
Okay, so I can’t resist talking about teeth, even if it’s about canine teeth. The fact is, taking care of your dog’s teeth is extremely important.
Ignoring the health of your dog’s teeth can lead to pain, difficulty chewing, excessive drooling, and is the major source of the dreaded “doggy breath.” Just as with humans, neglected teeth and gums are an invitation to disease and infection in dogs. Dogs get gingivitis – inflammation of the gums – just like people do, which can cause bleeding and progress to gum disease. Teeth can get to the point that they need to be extracted (there aren’t fillings and crowns for dogs) a surgical procedure that has risks like any surgery.
You can help keep your dog’s teeth and gums healthy at home with regular brushing. Start with a dog-safe toothpaste and use it with a dog toothbrush or even a piece of gauze wrapped around your finger. Choose a time when your dog is calm and relaxed and take just a few minutes to rub all the surfaces of the teeth as well as gently massage the gums. In between brushing, offer your dog teeth-friendly treats or try a water additive that you pour into their water bowl to help kill bacteria and keep breath fresh.
Celebrating National Dog Day
If you’re lucky enough to have a dog, take some time to celebrate and give them some extra love on August 26th. Take an extra-long walk, try a new dog park, give them a second helping of their favorite treat, get out the good camera to take some photos, give them a new toy, and, of course, brush their teeth!