Q. Is there anything I should know about my adult dog?
A. You have made it through puppyhood and adolescence. All the work you have put into training, exercising, and socializing has paid off, but you don’t stop now. Young adulthood starts about 2 to 3 years of age. He is calmer, listens better, stops growing, and meshes with family life. This doesn’t mean you stop training and socializing. Instead, life is easier. Fido goes with you to safe events, walks, and hikes. Emotionally he is predictable, calmer, and more comfortable in the day-to-day life experiences.
He is now going to the veterinarian for yearly checkups and routine tests for intestinal parasites, tick, and Heartworm diseases. The yearly visit is important because there are subtle changes you may miss that your veterinarian can pick up. He will need fewer calories to maintain his weight. If you neutered or spayed your dog, weight gain is expected, so monitoring his weight is important. His doctor will help you find the right diet to support a long healthy life. Your pup will get a thorough physical; all your questions and concerns will be answered.
Dental care will become more important. Just like us, tartar can build up and cause periodontal disease. Tartar can get under the edge of his gums and cause infections. You would see this as plaque on the teeth and redness of the gums. To prevent this, you can teach your dog to allow brushing. Soft bones, like rib bones and dental chew toys can remove built up tartar if the teeth are not painful. Don’t use hard shank bones or steamed bones from the pet shop. These will break his teeth. If Fido isn’t a chewer, there are products you can put in the water to prevent tartar build up. There are many dental products you can choose from for Fido. Even though he isn’t a puppy, having safe chew toys to keep him occupied is still important. When he has his yearly checkup, your veterinarian will examine his teeth and discuss what care he needs.
Exercise is still important. As dogs mature physically, we need to keep our best friends fit mentally and physically. Sniff walks are a daily need. Swimming and a romp through the back 40 are good ways to stay fit. Adding a joint supplement, if you haven’t already, should be started. This will help keep arthritis and stiffness at bay. Any medication can compromise Fido’s gut microbiome, supplementing with pre and probiotics can help. Adding omega 3 will reduce inflammation, help his coat, and immune system. Vitamin D is important for your dog’s immune system and protects against other diseases. You may ask your veterinarian to check his vitamin D level. Many dogs are deficient, and we don’t know it. Have the level checked first. Do not just give him vitamin D. Too much can make him very sick.
This is the time of your dog’s life which is enjoyable. You know each other. He is your best friend and is always there for you.
Judith K. Herman, DVM, CVH
Animal Wellness Center