Dr. Julie Damron

4 minutes reading time (874 words)

Making 2010 a great year of health and happiness for your pet

January 1, 2010

Wondering what actions can you take now, and all year long, that will make a significant difference in the life of your cherished companion?  Here is a list of recommendations for the new year.

Feed a high quality premium pet food, one that comes from the pet store, and meets AAFCO  Association of American Food Control Officials standards .  You are what you eat.  Just like for people, a diet rich in fat and carbohydrates is not healthy.  Do not share your plate with your buddy, or feed chicken or pork bones, or grease drippings.  Consult with your veterinarian on what to feed if your pet won't eat kibble, or will only eat people food.

Exercise is just as important for your companions as it is for you.  A leash and some tennis shoes provide a wonderful workout.  Your feline companion may enjoy going out on a harness, or playing with a laser light or other interactive toy.  5 days a week is optimum for good health.

Have routine checkups.  Annual exams are essential to catch signs of illness early.  For senior pets, twice a year is recommended.  Older pets should also have laboratory work done at least once a year.

Bring your pet to the veterinary clinic at the first sign of a health problem.  You can call if you have questions regarding how soon something should be treated.  However, the longer something has been going on, the more concern for significant, permanent damage.

Have a heath kit for your pet including routine things like ear cleaning materials, nail clippers, and dental care products.  It is also useful to have some basic first aid products such as a thermometer, some wound cleaner, and a medication piller.  Use care with any CPR or techniques to control bleeding as animals are more fragile than people.

Spay or neuter your pet.  This helps to prevent multiple tumors as well as infections, makes your companion less likely to fight, and less likely to roam.  A healthy dog or cat can undergo this surgery at any time; but it is most beneficial when done within the first year of life, and ideally before the first heat cycle.

Take good care of your pet's dental health.  Dental disease is the number one pet illness, and most owners are not aware of it or the serious health problems it can cause.  Infections in the mouth can lead to disease in other parts of the body including the heart, liver, kidneys, and more.  Brushing is the best way to routinely remove plaque.  If you can't brush, feed high quality dental treats, use drops, or rinses.

Groom your pet routinely to maintain a nice healthy coat.  This process will also help you to notice problems early on such as growths, ear infections, pain, or other problems.

Make your house a safe environment.  Keep garbage cans securely locked, and keep all human medications, chemicals, cleaners, and toxins out of reach from your buddies.

Use year round heartworm, flea, and tick preventatives.  It doesn't freeze in our area, so these pests are always a potential problem for your companions.  Just because you don't see them, doesn't mean they aren't finding your pet.  These products also protect your cat and/or dog from internal parasites as well.  Internal parasites can be harmful to your family, especially small children, the elderly, or anyone who is immuno-compromised.

Take your dog to obedience training.  Not only will it make him or her better behaved; but it can save his/her life.  This will sound silly; but pets get loose unexpectedly.  If they are good at recall, you can stop them from running into the street.

Have a safe way to transport your pet in the car.  A carrier works well for small dogs and cats, and can be seat belted to the car.  This is important protection in a car accident.  Harnesses that can be seat-belted are also available, as are crates that can be secured.  A dog that rides in the back of the truck must be tethered to stop him or her from jumping or falling out.

Have your dogs and cats microchipped.  This identification system is your companions ticket home if he or she should get lost.  Several pets have been quickly returned at our clinic due to this wonderful technology.  It is also now required for both the licensing of your dog and/or your cat if you live in the city of Stockton.

Keeping your pet indoors can extend his/her life.  Outdoor pets are at risk for being hit by a car, exposure to toxins, fighting, increased disease exposure, and others problems.  This is especially true for cats, who statistically have been show to live much shorter lifespans when housed primarily outdoors.

Have a savings account and/or pet insurance for your companion.  Unfortunately our pets are at risk for significant health problems just like we are, and most of them don't have health insurance.  Insurance policies don't cover everything; but we have found VIP to provide the best care.  With insurance, you pay the fees, and submit receipts to the insurance company.  A savings account will build up interest, and is there when you need it.

These items may sound very basic; but they can drastically improve the quality of life for your pets.

Choosing the "purrfect" present for your pet
Helping others find their way


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