October is National Pet Wellness Month!
Family animals provide us with so much unconditional love. In return for their affection, let’s celebrate this month by following these 10 tips to support them in living long, pain-free lives.
1. Feed Them a High-Quality Diet
From the very first day you bring a new pet home through the final days of its life, nutrition plays a critical role in your pet’s overall health and well-being. Yet, there are so many different brands of pet foods today that it can be confusing for a pet parent to know what food is best for their pet.
Obesity in pets has become a challenging condition to manage today. Nearly 60% of cats and 54% of dogs equaling over 50 million cats and 42 million dogs, are at risk for weight-related disorders. Here are some top reasons to keep your pet at a healthy weight:
- A healthy weight contributes to a better quality of life and a longer life expectancy.
- Lowers their risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, respiratory disease, kidney disease, and some forms of cancer
- Reduces the chances of injury to bones, joints, and muscles associated with excess weight
- It makes it easier to manage the discomfort associated with arthritis as your pet ages.
We offer nutritional counseling to help you navigate the choices and decisions related to your pet’s health.
2. Exercise Your Pet
Regularly exercising your dog or cat goes hand in hand with a healthy diet.
Regular exercise helps your pet stay fit and strong and improves their mood. Your pet’s activity depends on age, breed, size, and overall health. Here is a rough guideline you can use.
- Dogs should spend 30 minutes to two hours on an activity every day.
- Cats should have two play sessions daily for 10 to 15 minutes per day.
If you are unsure what your pet needs, we will be happy to discuss this with you.
3. Provide Fresh, Clean Water
Clean drinking water is essential to a pet’s well-being. Make sure your pet has access to fresh, clean water every day. If you use water fountains, follow the manufactures recommendations for cleaning and adding fresh water. Dirty water can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and other gastrointestinal issues.
4. Maintain Good Dental Care
Most dogs and cats have some degree of periodontal disease by age 3. If left untreated, these patients are at an increased risk for developing heart valve diseases and kidney disease.
Establishing good oral hygiene habits for your pet is essential in battling dental disease.
Often pet parents don’t realize that their pets need professional dental cleaning and at-home dental care, just like we do. You can read more about pet dental care from our blog: PET TEETH: DENTAL CARE FOR YOUR PET.
To learn how to brush your pet’s teeth at home you can watch this video from the AVMA:
5. Groom Your Pets
Whether you use professional or at-home grooming, grooming does a lot to keep your pet healthy by keeping their nails trimmed and their coats looking healthy. Grooming is also an excellent way to keep an eye on changes in your pet’s fur or skin, like dandruff, bald patches, dry skin, or pests. And it’s an ideal time to check for lumps and bumps that may cause concern.
6. Keep Them Pest Free
Reactions to pests can range from mild allergic reactions to severe or even fatal reactions from heartworm disease, Lyme disease, demodectic mange, and so forth.
- Preventative treatment is the best way to combat pets pests. We provide our clients with a fully stocked pharmacy, and we stand behind every product that we dispense.
- Look for fleas, ticks, and coat abnormalities any time you groom your pet or bring them in from outside areas that are likely to have higher numbers of these parasites.
- Contact us if your pet excessively scratches, chews, or licks its fur, persistently shakes the head or scratches the ears. Prompt treatment not only lessens your pet’s discomfort but also decreases the chances of the transmission of diseases and may reduce the degree of home infestation.
7. Protect Your Pets from Harsh Weather
Extreme heat or cold weather conditions are not safe for pets. For example, animals exposed to cold, dry air, rain, or snow can suffer from chapped paws and itchy, flaking skin. Animals left out in the cold without proper protection can suffer hypothermia, especially when temperatures drop below 20 degrees F.
In regard to the heat, my rule of thumb is dogs can handle the heat if acclimated generally into the 80’s. Hotter than that and you need to take additional precautions. If you know you will be in the heat in the next few days, you can “water bait” their water by adding a teaspoon of wet food numerous times throughout the day to their water to encourage drinking. Always make sure they have access to tree shade, tarps, or even battery-operated fans if possible. A doghouse can protect from weather, but not heat – doghouses make heat worse.
Related Article: Keeping Your Pets Safe In Hot Weather
Keep your pets indoors when temperatures are extreme. When they go outside, ensure to protect them from harsh elements.
8. Stay Observant
Let us know if you notice changes in your pet’s usual behavior patterns or health. Changes in eating or sleeping habits, temperament, becoming restless etc. can sometimes indicate an underlying health condition. Communicating any changes, can help your veterinarian catch problems early on before they become big.
9. Keep Your Pet’s Wellness Appointments
Your pet can benefit greatly from regular wellness examinations or checkups. Whether your pet is a youngster, a “senior citizen,” or any age in between, a pet wellness exam is an essential part of their healthcare. A wellness exam allows us to conduct a thorough physical examination and develop a health profile for your pet. This information will help us identify medical problems and other issues affecting your pet’s health and quality of life.
10. Give Them Plenty of Love
Finally, give them lots of love. Pet owners should spend at least one hour per day with their animals, whether playing, grooming, or just spending quality time together.
In celebration of Halloween, we’d like to include some tips from the AVMA on How to Make Halloween Safer for Pets. Please watch this video and keep your pets safe this Halloween.
Please contact us if you have any questions or need to make an appointment.
Dr. Kim Stewart