National Pet Wellness Month – Tips to Help Keep Your Pet Healthy!
Do not allow your pet outdoors unsupervised. For dogs, in most cases, that means using a collar or harness and leash when outdoors unless you are in a specified area that is enclosed and/or safe. Cats should remain indoors whenever possible.
Feed your pet a high quality diet that meets all of his nutritional needs. Good nutrition is essential to good health. Marketing gimmicks are common in the pet industry. Don’t fall victim to them. A large advertising budget and a clever marketing team doesn’t necessarily equate to a high quality pet food. Do your research. Consult with your veterinarian. Make an informed choice about what to feed your dog or cat.
Keep your pet free of parasites. Fleas, ticks, roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, heartworms…the list goes on. Parasites can cause health issues for your pet all by themselves. But to make matters worse, some of them can also transmit other diseases to your pet. Ask your veterinarian for help in formulating a parasite prevention program tailored to your pet’s needs. Remember that not all preventives are created equal. Some are more effective and/or safer than others. Your veterinarian will have knowledge of the safety and efficacy of the different products.
Make sure your pet gets plenty of exercise and keep your pet entertained. For dogs, walking is a great activity and can provide exercise for your pet. But toys and other items/activities are also very effective for many cats and dogs in encouraging exercise. They also provide mental stimulation for your pet as well burning calories to help keep your pet in shape.
Keep your pet lean. Excess weight can cause or contribute to many different health issues for your pet. Ultimately, the weight will shorten your pet’s life. Feed your pet appropriately to keep him at his ideal body weight.
Don’t neglect your pet’s dental care. Dental disease is showing up in animals as young as 2-3 years old on a regular basis. In fact, the majority of dogs and cats have some degree of dental disease by the time they reach this age. Dental disease can cause a significant amount of pain for your pet. Brushing is the gold standard for keeping your pet’s teeth and mouth healthy. However, for those pets that will not tolerate brushing, there are other alternatives that can help as well. Chewies, dental diets, sealants, and oral rinses are among the options. Consult your veterinarian for advice.
Be sure your dog has at least basic obedience training. At a minimum, your dog should sit, stay, come (recall), and leave it (drop an object in the mouth or not pick up an object) at your command. Further training is encouraged and is a good way to bond with your dog as well. These commands could save your pet’s life in the right (or wrong) circumstances.
For both dogs and cats, socialization (preferably at a young age) is important as well. If at all possible, be sure your puppy or kitten receives this socialization. You’ll end up with a more confident pet that isn’t likely to be fearful or to have as many behavioral issues.
Groom your pet regularly. Grooming requirements vary from pet to pet. Most dogs and cats will need to be brushed or combed to keep hair from getting tangled and matted. Some dogs may need to be shaved or have their hair cut on a regular basis. Pets that shed heavily will need to have loose hair removed through the use of a deshedding tool. Most dogs need to bathed periodically. Cats typically do not require bathing often with the exception of breeds such as the Sphinx. All dogs and cats should have their nails checked regularly and trimmed as necessary. Left untrimmed, toenails can grow too long and damage your pet’s pad or foot. Ears should be checked regularly and cleaned as necessary too.
Make sure your pet gets regular veterinary care. Both dogs and cats need regular examinations. Visits at least once yearly are recommended. For senior pets, twice yearly exams should be considered. If your pet has health issues, more frequent visits may be necessary. Your veterinarian can often spot early signs of disease in an examination that may not be obvious otherwise. Early intervention will give your pet a better chance of recovery and is likely to be easier on your wallet than waiting until the symptoms become more serious. Talk to your veterinarian also about a vaccination schedule/protocol tailored to fit your dog or cat’s lifestyle and about when your dog or cat should be spayed/neutered.
Pet Wellness is our focus this month and every month!