Winter’s got one foot out of the door and spring is just around the corner, we can almost taste it! Is the time of regeneration for fresh energy not only for humans but for our pets also. We created a clear guide of the most important preventative health measures we should take care of. So our furry friends will be smiling and happy at all times.
Regular walks, hiking, playing fetch and swimming can keep your pet physically active and fit. But don’t forget about mental stimulation! Providing toys to play with, hiding treats, building obstacle courses and practising new tricks all keep your dog or cat interested and engaged. You can also change up your walking routine to expose your pet to new scenery and smells.
Feeding your pet the right amount and type of food help him maintain a healthy weight, which is one of the best ways to prevent obesity-related illnesses and extend his lifespan. Pets can usually meet their nutritional needs from a balanced diet of quality food but check with your veterinarian to see if he needs any supplements. Also, be sure your pet gets enough fresh water, and keep an eye on the number of treats you give him; most veterinarians suggest they should make up no more than 10% of your pet’s daily calories.
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An annual wellness exam provides the best opportunity for your veterinarian to perform a variety of health screens that can lead to the early detection of diseases and to spot warning signs of serious illness. Yearly dental appointments may also be recommended to remove plaque and tartar buildup.
It is a well-known fact that oral health impacts a dog’s general health. Simply put, dogs with clean mouths live longer. The bacteria involved in periodontal disease do not just stay in the mouth. These organisms invade the bloodstream and travel to major organs like the kidneys, liver, and heart where they cause significant health issues. Dogs may need their teeth cleaned every 1-2 years, but this frequency can vary more or less depending on a number of factors including preventive care. Dental radiographs (X-rays) will help determine the status of oral disease. Regular dental cleanings will also allow your dog to keep his pearly whites in good condition.
Vaccinations are divided into two groups: core vaccines and non-core or optional vaccines. All dogs (without medical problems that prevent immunization) should receive vaccinations for rabies, distemper, canine parvovirus, and canine adenovirus-2 (hepatitis) (usually offered as a combined DAP vaccination). Vaccination for kennel cough, Lyme disease, leptospirosis, and canine influenza may be recommended for dogs with potential exposure to these diseases.
This involves keeping your pet’s nails trimmed, brushing him a couple of times a week and giving him regular baths. Grooming is also a good way to keep an eye on changes in your pet’s fur or skin, like dandruff, bald patches or dry skin. And it’s an ideal time to check for lumps and bumps that may be cause for concern. Check with your veterinarian for the best grooming protocol for your particular pet.
Establishing a strong bond with your dog or cat is good for both of you. Cuddles, petting, belly rubs and even brushing his coat are great ways to show your pet some love. Not only does this strengthen the emotional connection with your pet, but it promotes your pet having positive interactions with other animals and humans.
According to the FDA, “Early socialization [in dogs] and appropriate exposure to various people and situations at a young age decreases the odds of antisocial or fearfully aggressive behaviours as an adult.” A puppy’s or kitten’s formative years — from a few weeks old to about 16-18 weeks — is the most critical period for socialization. So be sure they get enough people and animal interaction, not just in the early months but throughout their life. A few options include visiting family and friends, taking a trip to the dog park, going for a walk around the neighbourhood or letting your pet spend an afternoon at daycare after they’ve received the all-clear from your vet.
Has your pet’s behaviour changed recently? Is he scratching more than usual? Is he eating more or less than he normally does? Changes from the norm could be cause for concern and indicate an underlying issue. If you notice abnormal behaviour in your dog or cat, give your vet a call to see if an exam is necessary.
Last but not least – the most important and yet sometimes forgotten – the safety factor. There are several ways to keep your pet safe: collars with ID tags, microchips, making sure your home is free of safety hazards and putting toxic substances out of reach. Along with the other tips above, you’ll be able to keep your furry friend happy, healthy and with you for many years to come!