The 4 Universal Health Needs of Dogs

Help your dog look and feel its best from the inside out. Learn about improving your dog’s oral health, better grooming practices, and what you can do to strengthen your pooch’s immune system.

The 4 Universal Health Needs of Dogs

Skin and coat, oral care, digestion and immunity were identified as the 4 “universal needs” through a review of The Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition’s robust body of research studies on the overall health and well-being requirements of dogs of different breeds, sizes and life stages, including gestation/lactation, puppy, adult and senior. 

Why is pet oral health important?
Signs of poor oral health include red swollen gums, bad breath and tooth loss; if left untreated, advanced oral disease has been associated with the development of more serious issues like heart, lung and kidney disease. Just like in humans, poor oral health is also commonly associated with pain, which can reduce overall quality of life.  All of these things are concerning given that 4 out of 5 of dogs over the age of three suffer from some form of gum disease (American Veterinary Dental Society).
What can pet owners do to take care of their dog’s teeth?
Dental health may not be at the top of many pet owners’ list of priorities, but caring for your dog’s teeth is critical to his/her overall health. Much like with humans, a proactive approach is key. This can be achieved through regular dental exams and cleanings by a vet, daily tooth brushing, and feeding your dog specially designed foods and treats that help clean teeth.
Why is caring for the skin and coat important?
A visibly healthy skin and coat is considered to be a sign of the overall health of a dog. A dog’s skin and coat serve key functions such as regulation of body temperature and hydration, and storage of several nutrients. Just like a human, a dog’s skin is its largest organ, and – in conjunction with its coat – acts as a pet’s first line of defense, a protective barrier from the external environment.

Skin and coat problems, such as flakiness and dullness, are often the first indication of a health issue. Conditions which can negatively affect skin and coat quality also include nutritional deficiencies or a poor-quality diet. Please contact your veterinarian if you notice a decline in the condition of your dog’s skin or coat.  

Why are linoleic acid and zinc important to skin and coat health?
Linoleic acid and zinc are two of the most important nutrients for helping dogs maintain a healthy skin and coat. Research from The Waltham Centre has shown that supplementation of linoleic acid and zinc at levels well above minimal requirements will lead to increased coat gloss and an increase in the hydration of the skin. Further research shows that the addition of each of these nutrients separately is beneficial to the dog's skin and coat; however, the benefit is much greater when these nutrients are supplemented together.

Why is it important to protect a dog’s immune system?
A dog’s immune system works hard to combat daily exposure to disease, toxins, environmental stressors and free radicals. Its importance in keeping a dog healthy cannot be underestimated. Therefore, it is imperative that everything should be done to keep a dog’s immune system as strong as possible.

Why are vitamins E and C important to immunity defense?
Research from The Waltham Centre has shown that supplementation of the antioxidant vitamins E and vitamin C together, and well above minimum requirements, may have additional benefits by supporting the effectiveness of the immune system and by helping protect the function and integrity of every cell in the body.

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