Our pets rely on us for everything. It’s important to give them the best care we can to ensure they live long, happy lives. As we do with ourselves at the beginning of each year, it’s helpful to reflect on the last year in our pets’ lives and figure out what we can improve upon in the coming year. To help with this process, I created a list of my top tips to keep our pets healthy and safe in the New Year.
Tips to Keep Your Pets Healthy and Safe
1. Take your pet to your veterinarian at least once per year.
I cannot stress this tip enough to keep your pets healthy. Animals cannot tell us when they are not feeling well. Dogs will communicate a little, but cats will not show you that they are sick until they are very ill. Unfortunately, when my pet parents realize their cat is not acting right, it is generally when they are at the end stages of a disease and there is not much we can do. Make sure your pets see your veterinarian at least one time per year, if not twice. We may be able to detect things that pets parents do not notice.
Annual bloodwork is important for catching and treating disease early. A veterinarian’s physical examination gives us an overall idea about your pet’s health, but bloodwork will better detect organ function and certain diseases. At my animal hospital, I recommend a junior blood profile one time per year for my younger pets, and a senior blood profile one time per year for my pets that are 8+ years old.
2. Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date according to AAHA regulations.
Protect your pets against easily transmittable and deadly diseases. We diagnose diseases such as parvo, distemper, feline leukemia, and rabies daily. These diseases are easily preventable with vaccinations that are safe and effective. Speak with your veterinarian regarding your pet’s lifestyle to keep your pets healthy and protected.
3. Proper parasite control is imperative.
Monthly flea/tick and heartworm prevention is safe and easy. Fleas and ticks pass along many diseases. Heartworm disease is a serious parasitic disease that targets your pet’s heart and can cause death. Make sure to speak with your veterinarian and get your pet on the proper parasite control to help keep your pets healthy throughout the year.
4. Avoid items that are toxic for pets.
There are many foods that your pet should NEVER ingest, such as chocolate, onions, garlic, and mango seeds. Make sure to keep toxic human foods foods well out of your pet’s reach.
5. Feed your pet a high quality diet with the best ingredients.
I cannot stress this tip enough. Pets rely on us to feed them what is appropriate and what is good for them. What you feed your pet is the fuel and energy they need for not only survival but their overall health and wellbeing. Many foods will provide and meet the basic requirements to sustain life, however, higher quality foods will result in optimal health for your pet. It is important and our responsibility as their parents to make the right choices for them.
Pet parents and veterinarians are becoming more aware of the importance of whole food nutrition and feeding your pets high quality ingredients with no artificial additives or preservatives. Studies show feeding your pet 25% real whole nutrition can decrease the probability of obesity in pets.
6. Control your pet’s weight.
Overweight pets are more prone to diabetes and other diseases. In addition, our aging pets tend to have a difficult time moving around and can develop degenerative joint disease. To keep your pets healthy, make sure they maintain a healthy BCS (Body Condition Score). They depend on us!
7. Use natural supplements for joint health, skin health, and cardiac health.
I love glucosamine chondroitin sulfate and omega 3 fatty acids and recommend my pet parents start their pets on these supplements at a very young age. Speak to your veterinarian regarding the specific health benefits and what dose your pet needs.
8. Maintain your pet’s dental health, and have their teeth cleaned professionally.
Periodontal disease is the most overlooked disease in pets and can cause significant health problems. Imagine if we never brushed your teeth? Our pets are no different. Although we highly recommend it, most pet parents do not actively brush their pet’s teeth. Pets are susceptible to the EXACT same diseases caused from poor dental hygiene as humans, such as cardiac disease, diabetes, and systemic illness. Take care of their teeth in order to keep your pets healthy!
9. Know the common emergencies you should never wait to be evaluated by a veterinarian.
Often, people cannot distinguish when their pet needs to be seen immediately by a veterinarian or if an issue can wait. As always, I tell my clients to go with their instinct. If you are worried and not sure, never hesitate to have your pet evaluated by a veterinarian.
It is up to us to give our furbabies the healthiest lives possible. Our pets depend on us to make the right choices for them and to keep them healthy and strong. They give us so much love, devotion, and loyalty, so let’s give them the benefits of health, happiness, and a long wonderful life!
I wish you all a happy New Year filled with love, health, and prosperity!