There’s a New Way To Stay on Top of Your Dog’s Health, and It Won’t Cost You a Thing

When I tell you that the health and happiness of my pets is of utmost importance to me, I’m not exaggerating. There’s absolutely NOTHING I wouldn’t do for my furry little dudes. I place their wellbeing well above my own, they eat like kings, and they always get the best spots in bed (it’s been years since I slept on my own damn pillow).

While I love and trust our vet, who makes himself available at pretty much all hours for questions and paranoid concerns, there’s something very empowering about taking the boys’ health into my own hands between vet visits. And now, thanks to Purina, we can all do the same.

I got a chance to speak with Stacy Lynn Fernandes, Nutritional Communications Manager at Nestlé Purina PetCare Canada last week to get the deets on Purina ONE’s new scoring system and learn how to better manage my dogs’ health. 

SDTC: What inspired the idea behind Purina ONE’s new scoring system, and how long did it take to develop?

SLF: At Purina ONE, we know how important your dog’s health is to you and your family. Regular visits to the veterinarian, proper nutrition, and appropriate care all tie into your daily routine with your dog. A recent study amongst 1,023 Canadian dog owners, conducted by Purina Canada and Maru/Matchbox, revealed 90 per cent of Canadian dog owners are interested in learning more about their dog’s health. So clearly they are important!

With that in mind, Purina ONE wanted to provide pet owners with the tools and food to help support lifelong body health in their dogs. Working with a panel of experts over the span of a few months, Purina ONE developed a rating system that enables pet owners to measure their dog’s health.

How does the scoring system work? 

SLF: The ONE Score enables pet owners to measure and better understand their dog’s overall health from the comfort of their homes. The scoring system examines seven health areas:

1.      Energy level
2.      Appetite
3.      Bowel movements
4.      Skin condition
5.      Coat quality
6.      Breath smell
7.      Dental appearance

Each health factor is measured on a scale of 1 to 5. Depending how your dog scores on each health factor, they will get a total score out of 35. If you score:

30 – 35 points: Your dog is in great condition. There may be some small areas for improvement, so take a look at how you scored in each section and focus on improving the area in which you scored lowest.

21 – 29 points: Your dog is in fair health. There may be a few areas your veterinarian can help improve, so it’s worth booking an appointment.

Less than 20 points or 1 or 2 in any category: You should follow up with your veterinarian right away. There are likely many areas of your dog’s health that need to be looked into.

One of the great things about the ONE Score is that it not only reinforces what pet owners know is important to a dog’s health, but it also brings attention to other areas that are equally important.

If there are no red flags or drastic changes in behaviour, how often should you evaluate your pup’s health between vet visits?

SLF: Sometimes you need a little extra reassurance between appointments. Is your dog’s energy a little lower than usual? Is his coat a little dull? You should be monitoring your dog’s health at all times; that’s why we introduced the ONE Score.

As well, I recommend completing the “Healthy Hug” test once a month to complement the ONE Score. The Healthy Hug test consists of the following 3 steps:

  1. Place both thumbs on your dog’s backbone and run your fingers along the rib cage. If you can’t easily feel the bony part of the ribs, he may need to lose weight.
  2. Stand directly over your dog and look down on him. You should see a clearly defined waist behind the ribs.  
  3. Check your dog’s profile. If you don’t see a clearly defined abdomen tucked up behind his rib cage, he’s probably overweight.

Is there one aspect of dog health you think is overlooked, or does this vary breed to breed? I ask because my eldest Chihuahua had to get most of his teeth pulled last year. He’s adjusted wonderfully, and has even put on a little weight, but it seems like his oral health deteriorated very rapidly to the point where there was serious risk of infection. VERY SCARY.

SLF: One of the most overlooked areas of dog health is their dental hygiene. While owners don’t typically focus on dental care, it is cited as the second most important criteria veterinarians use to assess dog’s overall health. Dental health is vital because issues can sometimes lead to oral diseases such as periodontal disease, which can be painful and uncomfortable for your dog

To maintain your dog’s oral health, I recommend daily brushing, giving your dog a dental treat like DentaLife and eating a complete and balanced diet like Purina ONE.

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