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Healthy Pets

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5 Health Mistakes Dog Owners Make

Avoid common problems and keep your best friend in tip top shape.

Mistake 3: Overfeeding

If too much love is ever a bad thing, it's when we show it in the form of too many tasty treats. "Rewarding and loving our dogs with food leads to obesity," Brode says. Overweight or obese dogs are at higher risk for arthritis and other orthopedic issues as well as other health problems. 

It can be difficult enough to balance your own diet let alone that of your dog. Your vet can help you select a good, high-quality food for your dog and give you tips on exercise and treats. You don't have to stop sharing occasional goodies with your pooch, as long as 90% to 95% of your dog's diet is healthy and well balanced.

Mistake 4: Sharing Medication

Another dangerous health mistake owners make is giving dogs human medications. "Pain medications like Advil or Tylenol can be very toxic to dogs," Brode says. In addition, there is a host of seemingly benign human drugs that can pose grave health risks for pets.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, are the most common cause of pet poisoning in small animals, according to the ASPCA. Even small doses can be toxic. Antidepressants, muscle relaxers, decongestants, vitamin D derivatives, oral diabetes treatments, and other common human drugs can all pose risks to pets, ranging from seizures to coma to death.

Always keep medication secure -- preferably in a high, locked cabinet -- and never discard medication where pets or children can get to it. If you’re worried that your dog may have gobbled up an over-the-counter or prescription pill you dropped -- or worse, taken an entire bottle from the trash -- don't hesitate. Immediately call the Animal Poison Control Center 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435.

Mistake 5: Delaying Critical Care

We often delay medical care for ourselves, waiting for a bump, pain, or rash to go away. So it may seem natural to do the same thing with our dog.

Unfortunately, dogs don't have the words to let us know exactly what they're feeling. Your canine companion could be in pain, sick, and even gravely ill -- and chances are you wouldn't know it because of dogs’ instinct to hide infirmity.

Don't wait to see if a health problem in your dog gets better on its own. Call your vet if your dog isn't eating or is eating less, is vomiting, seems lethargic, has diarrhea or fever, or just doesn't seem well.

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Reviewed on April 30, 2012

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