Five tips to keep your pet healthy
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As with your own health, ongoing preventative care will help prevent larger problems down the road. It is important to bring your pet to the veterinarian once a year (or twice a year for senior pets), which will provide an opportunity to weigh your pet, have their mouth checked for signs of dental disease, discuss preventative care like vaccination, and review your pet’s nutritional plan. This will also give you a chance to bring up any questions or concerns you have about your pet’s health. Ask your veterinarian about wellness plans that are designed to prioritize health and preventative care for your pet while staying within your budget.
Your veterinarian wants to help your pet enjoy a long and healthy life! There are a few key things you can do at home to help keep your pet healthy and happy between regular visits to the veterinary clinic.
1. Know your breed.
Even before adopting your new pet, carefully consider the known health issues with the breed, and decide how you will manage these issues if they occur in your pet. If planning to bring home a mixed breed, consider the known health issues of each breed in the mix! In general, the more extreme the features (very small or very large breeds, brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds, pronounced wrinkles, short legs, etc.) the more health issues you should be prepared for. Ask your veterinarian if there are any additional measures you can take to reduce health risks specific to your pet’s breed or breed mix.
Your pet’s breed also influences their activity level and behaviour. So it is important to ensure your pet gets an appropriate level of exercise. Even cats that stay indoors need regular activity! Indoor cats have specific environmental needs that are an important part of keeping them healthy both physically and mentally. Contact your veterinary team for more information about the environmental needs of cats and how to ensure your cat’s needs are being met at home.
2. Prioritize nutrition.
Nutrition is a fundamental part of health. Choose a diet that is appropriate for your pet’s life stage and individual needs. Look for one from a reputable company with high standards for safety and quality. Nutrition can also play an important role in the prevention and management of certain medical conditions such as lower urinary tract disease. Realize that there is not one best diet for every pet. And what’s best for the individual will change over time. If you’re not sure what to feed, talk to your veterinarian and/or use the World Small Animal Veterinary Association recommendations for selecting pet foods.
3. Maintain a healthy weight.
Overweight and obese pets live shorter lives than pets in good body condition. Obesity significantly increases the risk for several health issues including diabetes, lower urinary tract disease, constipation, pancreatitis, and joint disease.
We can start pets off on the right paw by measuring food portions with a kitchen gram scale rather than a cup to ensure accuracy and prevent overfeeding. Ask a professional if you need help calculating healthy portions of food and treats. Remember that attention and playtime are the treats your pet craves most; keep food treats to a minimum to avoid overdoing it.
4. Keep those teeth clean!
Just like in people, oral health is directly related to overall health. Maintaining good oral health is the second most important thing (after weight management) you can do to maintain your pet’s health and extend their life. The combination of daily brushing at home and regular professional cleaning with your veterinarian is the gold standard for oral health. Certain treats, chews, and diets that contain benefits for oral health can also help keep teeth clean.
5. Insure your pet.
Your pet is a living, breathing imperfect being and things happen that can’t always be predicted or prevented! It’s stressful when your pet is sick or injured; remove financial worry from the equation by having a plan for the expense that accompanies a high level of care.
Realize that certain activities come with a higher risk for injury or illness:
- Free roaming outdoor cats
- Off-leash dogs, including in dog parks
- Intact (not spayed or neutered) pets
- Feeding raw food or bones
Remember that your veterinarian is the best resource for information about your pet’s health and individual needs. For more information or guidance on the topics above or if you have other questions about your pet’s health please contact your veterinary team!
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