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Keeping Your Indoor Dog Healthy and Happy: 5 Tips for Pet Parents

Embark on a journey to unlock the secrets of keeping your indoor dog not just healthy but blissfully happy

a woman sitting on a kitchen counter next to a black dog
By Dr. Jen Sikoski
a woman with dreadlocks holding a remote control
Edited by Lucia Gcingca

Published January 22, 2024.

A woman laying on a couch with a dog next to her

Did you know that dogs dream? In the mysterious realm of their slumber, your furry friend goes on adventures just like you. Sleep contributes to their health, but there's more to keeping your indoor pup content.

From essential vaccinations to creative indoor exercises, let's see how to nurture your dog like never before.

Essential Tips for Overall Health Maintenance

  1. Regular vet check-ups
  2. Baseline labs for future comparisons
  3. Dental care
  4. Parasite control
  5. Nutrition and exercise

1. Regular Vet Check-Ups

It might seem obvious, but seeing your vet yearly is vital, even if your dog is on a three-year vaccine schedule. Annual check-ups ensure a baseline and a thorough examination, covering weight, teeth, and every part of your dog. Your vet can identify issues you might miss.

2. Baseline Labs for Future Comparisons

Get baseline lab results when your dog is healthy for future comparisons when they're sick. This proactive approach does wonders for early detection and effective treatment if your pup becomes ill.

3. Dental Care

For dogs of all sizes, dental problems extend beyond mere oral discomfort. Bacteria from severe gum disease may infiltrate the bloodstream, embarking on a journey that could impact the heart's well-being.

Heart Disease and Dental Health

People often associate heart disease with bacteria depositing on a heart valve, creating a narrative where the health of your dog's teeth indirectly affects their well-being. If your dog experiences trench mouth, it's a signal to consult your vet.

Note: While some home care options exist, non-anesthetic dental cleanings offered by non-licensed individuals may not address issues below the gum line. Doing X-rays periodically can help detect hidden problems.

A Jack Russel with a toothbrush in its mouth.

🐾 Take care of your pup's health by providing proper dental hygiene

4. Parasite Control

Appropriate parasite control varies in importance by region. Some of them can pose an exposure risk for you and your kids, as they can be zoonotic. You can consult your vet for regional risk factors and get a suitable prevention plan for fleas, ticks, and heartworm disease.

Consistency is critical in places like Florida, where parasites are a year-round threat. Skipping a month can lead to heartworm disease, which may not show clinical signs until it's advanced. Monthly treatments are cost-effective, with some options lasting for three months or even a year.

5. Nutrition and Exercise

Focus on a balanced diet and regular exercise for your dog's well-being. They age faster than us and need fewer calories, especially if they're inactive. Choose nutritionally appropriate food. The Animal Feed Control Official Statement (AAFCO) should be on the bag. If it's not, it's a red flag.

Note: If the food claims to meet AAFCO standards for all life stages, it may not suit a senior dog's needs. Check with your vet.

Creative Ways to Exercise Indoor Dogs

Dogs are social creatures that thrive on interaction. So, engaging your dog mentally and physically ensures a happy and healthy pup. Try these creative exercise ideas:

  • Dog park adventures: Perfect for dogs who enjoy socializing.
  • Tailored walks or running: Adjust exercise routines based on your dog's health and energy levels.
  • Agility classes: Provides mental stimulation and exercise.
  • Interactive games: Toys like puzzle feeders engage the mind and body.
  • Snuffle mats and food puzzles: Slow fast eaters down and prevent overeating with these interactive toys.

🐾 Want to keep your doggo in top shape? Learn more about common dog illnesses

Do Indoor Dogs Need Vaccinations?

All dogs, regardless of breed, should receive distemper, hepatitis, parvo, parainfluenza, and rabies vaccines.

Another one to consider is leptospirosis, especially in areas like Florida, where it's prevalent due to contaminated water. It's spread through urine from wildlife and rats in urban areas. Consult your vet to assess the risk and consider vaccination, as it's zoonotic.

Finally, the Bordetella or kennel cough vaccine is essential for regular contact with other dogs. This is anywhere with the potential for spreading respiratory issues poses a risk, like going on walks at the groomers, playdates, and apartment complexes.

Vaccination Schedule

These vaccines are received in a series starting at around eight weeks. A typical schedule might be getting a jab at eight weeks, 12 weeks, 16 weeks, and 20 weeks.

Note: It's always best to consult your vet, especially if you're adopting from a shelter, as some vaccinations may have already occurred.

A dog getting a vaccine.

🐾 Find out if pet insurance covers vaccinations and deworming

Pet Insurance: A Pawsitive Investment

Keeping your indoor dog happy and healthy is like putting together puzzle pieces. They all participate in regular vet visits, dental care, parasite control, a good diet, and some playtime. Apply these tips to your routine, and you'll be on track to a content and thriving furry companion.

If you want to protect your indoor pup's health, consider pet insurance an invaluable investment for their well-being. Early consideration is critical, given that preexisting conditions are typically not covered. Research your options thoroughly and consult your vet for guidance.