If you’re reading this article, then you really care for your dog’s health. Although the healthiest of dogs can succumb to certain diseases, it pays to be diligent about health issues so you can give your dog the best chance of a quality (and longer) life. Here are my seven tips for optimal health:A Good Start1. Start by choosing a healthy dog from the beginning. People in our society love the underdog. That means that lots of people are drawn to the poor little pup who is smaller than his littermates or who already looks sickly. Some people like to adopt a dog who needs extra help. That’s great. But, if you do adopt a pooch who already has some health issues or who is less robust than his littermates, be prepared for bigger health problems as she gets older.If you really want to have a healthy dog who will still be healthy when she’s 12 years old, choose the healthiest possible puppy in the litter. Look for bright, clear eyes; an outgoing, friendly personality; and a pup who is playful. Don’t bring home the puppy who is shy and hides in a corner or who acts like she doesn’t feel well.Vaccinate!2. Keep your furry friend vaccinated. Many people take canine diseases lightly today but they are deadly serious. Parvovirus and distemper still kill dogs. Rabies is deadly both to your dog and to you. Start your puppy off right with vaccinations from the time you bring her home and follow recommendations for booster shots to keep your dog healthy. You should visit the vet annually for a check-up.Fresh Water3. Make sure your dog has plenty of fresh water available at all times. This is often easier said than done. Some dogs like to play in their water, turn it over and they can get their water dirty very quickly. Check your dog’s water frequently and make sure your dog has fresh water to drink. Water keeps your dog hydrated and flushes toxins from her system.Food Fit for a King4. Provide your dog with a good quality dog food. There is always much discussion about which dog food to feed your dog. Should you feed the most expensive premium food? Should you buy organic dog food? Should you stick with a tried and true grocery store brand? The best advice is to keep feeding your puppy or dog what she’s been getting before she came to live with you. Then pay close attention to her condition. How are her skin and coat? Does she keep good weight? Does she develop allergies? If your dog continues to do well on this original food consider staying with it since your dog has shown that she is thriving on it. If you must change foods, do so slowly. Learn to read dog food labels and choose foods with quality ingredients. Remember that the most important thing is your dog’s condition.Dental Care5. Take care of your dog’s teeth. Many owners overlook their dogs’ dental care with dire results. Your dog needs her teeth brushed often. Veterinary dentists recommend brushing everyday. It’s estimated that most dogs have some periodontal disease by the time they’re three years old. Dogs can develop plaque and tartar on their teeth which makes them brown and ugly and can lead to bad breath. Regular brushing will help prevent this build-up.Ears ‘n Nails6. Care for your dog’s ears and nails. Lots of owners tend to skip these grooming essentials but if they do their dog can develop problems. Ears should be cleaned once a week. Otherwise your dog may develop an ear infection. Nails left untrimmed can grow too long and make it difficult for your dog to walk properly.Exercise7. Make sure that your dog gets plenty of exercise. It’s estimated that nearly 40 percent of the dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. Being overweight puts your dog at risk for many serious health problems. One of the main reasons dogs are overweight is because they simply eat too much and don’t get enough exercise. Take your dog for walks. Be more active with her. Find some fun dog sports that the two of you can enjoy together. Spend time playing with your dog and get her running! Whatever your dog likes to do, find ways to encourage your dog to get some exercise.If you follow these suggestions your dog can be healthier and live a longer life.