While most New Year’s resolutions have fizzled out by now, it’s never too late to make a promise to your pet. Vow to keep your best friend in optimal health all year long to ensure you can enjoy many more happy and healthy years together. To help your furry pal stay healthy, we’ve listed eight of the best ways you can help your pet live her best life.
#1: Keep your pet at a healthy weight
More than half of America’s pet population has a weight problem, which can lead to multiple health issues. Although your chubby kitty and pudgy pooch may look adorable with extra “fluff,” those additional pounds can wreak havoc on their health. Pet obesity can cause cancer, osteoarthritis, diabetes, heart failure, and organ dysfunction. Pets who maintain a lean body condition live longer than their heavier counterparts. During Purina’s life span study, researchers determined that Labrador retrievers of a healthy weight lived an average of two years longer than their heftier littermates.
If you have become accustomed to seeing your pet with extra weight, it may be challenging to recognize what her ideal body condition should be. Check out these cat and dog body condition scales to see where your pet rates, or stop in and we can guide you through the process.
#2: Participate in regular exercise with your pet
Daily exercise does more than burn calories and energy for your furry pal. Routine physical activity will help her maintain muscle mass and healthy joints, plus you will strengthen your bond with your pet through fun activities. Training, playing games, or taking a hike together help keep your pet lean and encourage mental activity, which staves off boredom and bad behavior.
#3: Feed your pet a nutritious diet
Exercise and nutrition go “paw-in-paw” to keep your pet at a healthy weight. Your pet can run all day, but if she lives on junk food, she will still gain weight. Ensure your four-legged friend stays in tip-top shape with a well-balanced diet that contains the proper vitamins and minerals she needs for continued health. In addition to a nutritious diet, choose healthy treat options. Commercial treats are often loaded with fat, sugar, and calories designed to tempt your pet’s taste buds, but most pets appreciate any treat type—yes, even broccoli and carrots. Fresh veggies, small fruit pieces, and lean meats are excellent alternatives to high-calorie treats, but stick to a few bites at a time, as treats should compose no more than 10% of your pet’s daily calorie intake. When treating your pet to human foods, stay away from seasonings, spices, and added fat or flavorings. Avoid grapes, raisins, fruit pits and seeds, garlic, onions, and fatty meats as well, as they can make your pet sick.
#4: Protect your pet against disease
Preventing life-threatening disease is much simpler than trying to treat it. Vaccinations against serious illnesses are a vital part of your pet’s overall health care plan and will be tailored to her lifestyle to ensure she is fully protected.
#5: Set a reminder for your pet’s parasite prevention
We have a dirty secret. Although we are veterinary professionals, we occasionally forget to give our own pets their parasite prevention on schedule. To help us—and you—from forgetting this crucial part of your pet’s disease prevention program, we recommend setting a repeating reminder on your phone. Many parasite preventive manufacturers also offer free text or email alerts to remind you when your pet is due for her next dose.
#6: Keep your pet’s mind sharp
A bored pet is an unhappy pet that is likely to get into mischief or develop problem behaviors. Exercise your furry pal’s mind as much as her body with games, training sessions, and food puzzles. A vast amount of resources are available to help you create your own puzzle feeders for your pet, saving you money and keeping things fresh and exciting for your pal—simply search for “DIY food puzzles” and pick ones that will interest your pet.
#7: Create a dental hygiene routine for your pet
Proper dental care is crucial for your pet’s overall health and well-being. Up to 85% of pets over age 3 have some form of dental disease that can harm their heart, liver, and kidneys, while also causing painful gingivitis, infection, loose teeth, and bone loss. Implement a daily toothbrushing routine, combined with dental treats, chews, wipes, rinses, or additives, to keep your pet’s smile sparkling. Schedule a professional dental exam so we can check for dental-disease signs and thoroughly clean your pet’s teeth, above and below the gumline, to remove all traces of oral bacteria.
#8: Schedule regular wellness visits for your pet
Preventive medicine is the best medicine for keeping your furry friend happy and healthy. Wellness visits with our veterinary team include much more than vaccinations. While listening to her heart and lungs, palpating her abdomen, and assessing her ears, eyes, and skin, we check your pet’s entire body for early signs of disease or illness. Routine blood work also helps us monitor your pet’s organ function and watch for changing values that may indicate early disease, allowing us to initiate treatment for continued health.
Are you ready to make 2020 your pet’s healthiest year yet? Give us a call to schedule a visit, so we can create a wellness plan for your best friend.