To date we’ve celebrated 16½ romping years with our Chocolate Lab, Lady. Genetics aside, I believe that there are certain things a dog owner can to do maximize their dog’s life experience. Below are my top 5.
From my perspective, dogs require more one-to-one time than children. Time, I believe, is a main key to a dog aging well. Lady will manipulate, sneak, and connive in order to get as close to us as possible, any time of the day. We walk, play with, and keep in as much direct contact with her as possible. When it is necessary to be separated for longer than a day, she chews a raw place on her ankle, due to separation anxiety. I don’t think we can fully understand the stress our dogs go through when we are away.
Lady is rarely confined either indoors or chained. She runs loose on our wooded acre 99% of the time. We walk her almost every day and during warm months she swims in the nearby creek.
We had another companion dog for Lady during 12 years of her life. Now our neighbor’s two dogs come to visit her often. We do not discourage them. We also have cats, which Lady believes are her responsibility to look after.
Lady gets annual shots and took heartworm combination pills up until a few months ago when they began making her sick. We also gave her flea drops once a month up until August ’13. She also has had annual Vet visits for most of her life. She developed severe diarrhea and vomiting during the winter and bad weather kept us from getting her to the Vet. PETMD’s Dr. Jennifer Coates instructed us to place Lady on a 24 hour fast then feed her a bland diet including boiled white rice mixed with low-fat cooked chicken. After about a week we started mixing her hard food into the rice. She is now her normal self, and eating her regular food again.
Lady gets a good brushing about once every two weeks except when she is shedding, and then it is at least one a day. We check her often for fleas and ticks and remove any that we find. We also do a thorough check for any lumps or skin abnormalities during grooming. Anything questionable should be checked out by a veterinarian.