To ensure your pet’s well-being for years to come, it’s crucial to plan ahead.
When it comes to long-term pet health, there’s no replacing an annual checkup with a veterinarian. But in the time between visits, conscientious pet owners can look after their pet’s physical and mental health by practicing effective preventative care. Doing so will help prevent disease — and reduce the possibility of unexpected medical bills.
Read on to learn more about how proper pet care practices will allow you to keep your trusty companion healthy and your veterinary costs low.
Keep Up With Annual Exams
Let’s start with the most important element of preventative care: regular checkups with the veterinarian. At your pet’s annual visit, the vet will go over the essentials: nutrition, weight control, dental exams, health screenings, and vaccinations. However, the biggest benefit of regular checkups is that your vet can detect common health issues before they become bigger problems.
Prevent Pet Obesity
As with humans, obesity in pets comes with health risks like diabetes, arthritis, and cancer. The number one cause of pet obesity is overfeeding, simply because pets need much less food than their owners usually think. For example, a small, inactive dog only requires about 185-370 calories a day, while a 10-pound cat needs 240-350 calories. So, think twice before feeding your pet scraps from the dinner table or tossing him an extra treat. A vet can provide individualized dietary suggestions based on your pet’s size, age, and activity level.
Preserve Those Pearly Whites
Perhaps the biggest secret to long-term wellness is monitoring your pet’s dental health. Though most owners never take a good look inside their dog’s mouth, over 80% of dogs suffer from some kind of oral pathology, which can include loose teeth, sore and infected gums, and rotting tooth sockets. These problems affect most domestic animals, from cats to rabbits, so buy a pet-friendly toothbrush and brush at least twice a week.
Check Ears and Eyes Weekly
Keep your pet’s senses intact by monitoring his ears and eyes regularly. You can easily clean your pet’s ears once a week with a natural pet product. Though eyes are a bit more sensitive, they should be checked daily for mucus buildup. If you notice a buildup, moisten a cotton ball and dab it in the corners of your pet’s eyes, avoiding direct contact with the eyeball.
Shampoo, Rinse, Repeat
Although you might associate shampoo with hygiene instead of healthcare, regular bathing is a vital aspect of any preventative petcare plan. For most dogs, bathing once a month works well enough, but consult your veterinarian to learn more about your pet’s individual needs. Cats, for instance, tend to self-groom effectively, but bathing may sometimes become necessary.
In addition to keeping your pet clean, regular bathing and grooming will bring your attention to any unusual lumps, bumps, or other skin conditions that may afflict your furry friend.
Pet-Proof Your Home
When it comes to pet health, here’s a tip: treat your house like you have toddlers roaming around. Products like baby gates, power strip covers, covers for electrical outlets, and safety locks for cabinets will keep your pet safe and your house clean. You might also try installing a pull-out trash can that your pet can’t get into and ridding your house of clutter (so Rex can’t gnaw on any miscellaneous items).
Because your pet’s mental well-being is just as important as his physical well-being, enrich your pet’s living space with toys and puzzles. This allows your pet to stay active and stimulated, especially while he or she is alone in the house.
Fleas, mosquitoes, and ticks aren’t just confined to the dog days of summer. Contrary to popular belief, parasites are a year-round concern for pet owners, and the risk of infection is high: a pet can swallow a single flea and end up with tapeworms.
To avoid this unfortunate situation, be sure to apply topical flea repellant products, cover any sandboxes or play areas, and consider a monthly parasite preventative medication for your pet — even in the dead of winter.
If you can remember all of these tips, your pet will surely remain happy and healthy for years to come — but don’t forget to keep in touch with your vet!