Ask a thousand pet owners what they want for their pets and they will tell you that they want a healthy pet, but many do not understand the simple things that need to be done to keep their pet healthy. To maintain optimum pet health, you should visit a veterinarian at least twice a year and focus on dental health, parasite control and nutrition.
Frequent veterinary visits facilitate the early diagnosis and treatment of potential problems. Pet parents can be counselled on breed, age and sex-related predispositions, so that they can become aware of early warning signs. For instance, boxers are predisposed to skin cancer. Frequent skin examinations can result in the early detection and treatment of potentially fatal cutaneous cancers. In addition, the veterinarian can evaluate gum and tooth health, check for internal and external parasites, and determine overall nutritional status.
Keeping teeth and gums healthy is essential to optimum pet health. Removal of plaque and tartar before gingivitis develops will help ensure a healthy mouth. This can be accomplished by routine brushing, providing treats and food that aid in tartar removal, and having your pet’s teeth cleaned by a veterinarian at least once a year.
Also, ensuring that pets are free of internal and external parasites is critical to preventative health care. This can be achieved by yearly parasite checks by a veterinarian and strictly adhering to antiparasitic drug recommendations. For instance, heartworm disease is endemic in many areas of Canada and the United States. The disease, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, is difficult to treat, but is easily prevented with year-round use of anti-heartworm medication.
Finally, optimum nutrition is critically important to maintaining good health. It is important to remember that nutritional requirements vary with age, breed, lifestage and lifestyle. Your veterinarian will recommend an appropriate diet and will discuss feeding amount and frequency. Obesity is one of the most frequent problems in dogs and cats and can result in diabetes and joint problems. Obesity prevention requires strict adherence to feeding guidelines and providing adequate exercise for your pet.
Feed your pet a high-quality, well-balanced food for dogs or cats. This should be your pet’s main source of nutrition. Look at the first five ingredients listed on the pet food label. These ingredients make up the majority of the food and should be of high quality. Select a diet in accordance with the age, activity, breed size and weight of your pet or specific health condition. Search for a diet that will offer high-quality ingredients and also specific ingredients that could help your pet stay healthy.
Some ingredients or nutrients to look for:
Maintain your pet’s weight at a healthy level. A pet is considered overweight when they weigh 10%–20% more than their ideal body weight. If they are 20% overweight, they’re considered obese. Being obese can shorten a pet’s life span by as much as two years. Obese pets are at higher risk for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis and urinary bladder stones. Talk with a veterinarian about the ideal weight for your pet and feed them accordingly.
Give your pet a constant supply of fresh water. Pets need fresh water for their body to properly work and digest food. The water should be clean and fresh, so change the water at least once a day. Clean the water bowl with dish soap and water frequently. Rinse and dry the container before refilling with fresh water.
Just as for humans, preventative health care is essential for maintaining optimum pet health. In most instances, it is much easier (and more cost-effective) to prevent disease than to treat it. By following the steps outlined above, you are likely to enjoy many disease-free years with your pet.