The biggest downside to owning a pet is that they leave this world too soon, but did you know you can take certain steps to prolong their life? Our team at Colony Veterinary Hospital wants to help by providing tips to improve your pet’s wellbeing and add years to their life.
#1: Ensure your pet receives regular wellness checkups
Your pet may not look or act like a wild animal, but they have retained their ancestor’s instincts to conceal signs of vulnerability. This means that they can act completely normal while suffering from significant health issues. Diseases are best treated and managed in the early stages, and wellness checkups are the best way to catch these issues, since your pet won’t broadcast their condition. A typical wellness checkup includes:
- Physical examination — Our veterinary professionals will evaluate your pet from head to tail, to detect conditions such as dental disease, heart conditions, and abdominal masses.
- Blood work — Routine blood work, such as a complete blood count (CBC) and a biochemistry profile, can detect conditions such as liver disease, kidney failure, infection, and anemia.
- Urinalysis — Your pet’s urine test can detect conditions such as diabetes, urinary tract infections, and urinary crystals.
- Fecal check — A fecal check can detect intestinal parasites that can be debilitating to your pet’s health.
#2: Ensure your pet’s weight is carefully monitored
Many people overfeed or over treat their pet, failing to realize the damage caused by excess weight. Obese pets are at higher risk for several serious health issues, such as diabetes, arthritis, kidney issues, and heart disease, and keeping your pet at an ideal weight is the best way to protect them from these conditions. Tips to ensure your pet stays fit and svelte include:
- Get a proper weight assessment — Let our veterinary professionals evaluate your pet’s weight status. We can develop a customized weight loss program, if necessary, to ensure your pet loses weight safely.
- Monitor your pet’s weight status — Weigh your pet and evaluate their body conditioning score (BCS) once a week, to ensure their weight is staying stable if they are at an ideal weight, and that they are making progress if they need to lose weight.
- Provide appropriate exercise — All pets need daily exercise to keep them fit and healthy. Ensure your pet receives at least 15 minutes twice per day of physical activity, keeping in mind that some pets (e.g., Australian shepherds, Labrador retrievers) need additional exercise.
- Calculate your pet’s daily energy requirements — Calculate your pet’s daily energy requirements, considering their age, weight, breed, spay or neuter status, and activity level. Calorie calculators are available to help make this an easy process.
- Measure your pet’s portions — Use measuring cups to correctly measure your pet’s portions, to ensure they are receiving the exact amount. When you give your pet treats, adjust their next meal to compensate for the extra calories.
#3: Ensure your pet receives regular dental care
Dental disease is prevalent in pets, and can cause significant pain, difficulty eating, and systemic health problems. Plaque accumulates on your pet’s teeth, hardening to tartar, and the bacteria in these deposits can invade under your pet’s gum line, and damage the structures supporting their teeth. These pathogens can also enter their bloodstream, causing injury to your pet’s kidneys, heart, and liver. Tips to provide appropriate dental care for your pet include:
- Ensure your pet receives regular professional veterinary dental cleanings — These procedures involve general anesthesia, to ensure the bacteria can be thoroughly removed from underneath your pet’s gum line where most damage occurs. In addition, X-rays are taken to accurately evaluate your pet’s dental health.
- Brush your pet’s teeth daily — Daily toothbrushing doesn’t replace a professional veterinary dental cleaning, but the practice can help keep your pet’s teeth clean and healthy between professional procedures. Many safe, palatable pet-friendly products are available for pets.
- Provide appropriate dental chews — Dental chews and treats approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) can help reduce plaque and tartar accumulation on your pet’s teeth.
#4: Ensure your pet receives year-round parasite prevention
Parasites can transmit diseases and cause serious health issues for your pet. All pets are susceptible to these unwanted critters, and prevention medications are available to protect your pet. Your pet should receive prevention medications to protect them from:
- Fleas — Many pets are allergic to flea saliva, resulting in an intense reaction that causes excessive itching, hair loss, and excoriations. In addition, fleas can transmit tapeworms and other diseases, such as cat scratch disease.
- Ticks — Ticks can transmit several diseases, including Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. In addition, a toxin in the female tick’s saliva can cause paralysis.
- Heartworms — Heartworms, which are transmitted by mosquitoes, can significantly damage your pet’s heart and lungs. In addition, no heartworm treatment is available for cats, making prevention the only way to address heartworms in cats.
- Intestinal parasites — Parasites, such as hookworms, tapeworms, roundworms, whipworms, coccidia, and giardia, can leach nutrients and cause gastrointestinal problems for your pet.
Following these easy tips can help improve your pet’s wellbeing and add years to their life. If you would like to schedule a wellness checkup or a professional dental cleaning, contact our team at Colony Veterinary Hospital, and let us help prolong your pet’s life.