Dr. Julie Damron

5 minutes reading time (934 words)

Simple things to keep your pet healthy and happy in the New Year and for years to come

Keep current identification information on your pet. It can save his or her life. We routinely have lost dogs or cats brought into the clinic. Most of them do not have collars with current contact information or microchips. Visible identification is the easiest way for someone to return your pet if found. Microchips are magnificent because unlike collars, they don’t fall off. Please remember to update the information with the microchip company when you move.

Routine veterinary examinations are critical for the wellness of your companions. They are recommended at least annually for pets less than 7 years of age, and twice a year for seniors. Most pet owners’ focus on when vaccinations are due. Inoculations are important for the health of your pet; however, the examination can play a vital role to promote your pet’s longevity. Identifying disease at the earliest stage possible leads to the best outcome. A head to tail evaluation gives an overview as to how your companion is doing. Additional lab work may be recommended depending on your pet’s age or condition. Don’t be fooled by vaccination clinics. Often they do not charge an exam fee; but mark up the price of the vaccines to compensate for this, and may not be recommending needed care that they are not able to perform.

Feed a high quality pet store grade diet. Get the best food you are able to afford. The jumbo bag that is on sale at the grocery or feed store is not a good choice for optimum health. The nutrition you give your pet affects all aspects of his or her health from the teeth, and coat, to digestion and bones. Make sure you are feeding a food that is designed for the life stage of your pet. Feeding a senior diet to your canine or feline that is 7 years or older can make a big difference in his or her longevity. If you do choose to cook, there are even high quality mixtures such as Happy Dog to which you can add your own choice of meat. This is important because home cooked random diets may not be nutritionally balanced in vitamins and micronutrients. Do not just feed your pets what you are eating and expect it to agree with or be healthy for them.

Look in your canine and feline’s mouth routinely and provide some type of routine oral preventative care such as brushing. Start this at puppyhood and kittenhood if possible. The easier it is for you to touch the inside of your pet’s mouth, the more aware you will be of the level of existing dental disease, be able to remove something you don’t want your companion to be chewing on, and be able to provide vital routine oral care. Periodontal disease is the number one illness affecting at least 75% of all animals and it involves so many aspects of a pet’s life. Infection in the mouth can spread into the blood stream affecting many other organs such as the kidney, liver, and heart. Oral pain can make it difficult or uncomfortable to chew; overtime, infection in the mouth can lead to gum infection and recession, tooth root abscesses, and teeth falling out. Advanced dental disease requires professional dental cleanings to treat. Try to budget for this, or use payment plan options such as Care Credit to make this easier on your wallet.

Keep your canine or feline at a healthy weight. You shouldn’t be able to see the bones of the rib cage unless your pet is less than a year old. You should be able to feel them with gentle pressure. The tummy of your companion should slope up at the edge of the ribcage. Being too thin can be a sign of internal disease such as parasites, organ illness, or cancer. Obesity can lead to issues with joints/bones, the heart, or diabetes. It can also be a symptom of a hormone imbalance such as hypothyroidism or Cushings. It is best to feed meals, and measure the amount of food. This will not only help to prevent your companions from overeating; but will also help you to know early on when there is a change in one of your pet’s appetites.

Exercise is important in maintaining a healthy weight for your companion. It is also beneficial for strong muscles, mental wellness, and good circulation just like in people. It can also be a great way for you to spend quality time with your pet, and can also be a way to socialize. Many people walk their dogs with friends, or meet up at the local dog park. Routine interaction with your pet will also help you to be more aware when something has changed with your canine or feline. Cats enjoy play just like dogs do, and may like toys with catnip, laser tag, balls, playing with a cardboard box, climbing on an indoor cat tree, or going out for a walk on a leash.

Frequent brushing and grooming does more than just enhance your pet’s good looks. It can be important in preventing matting or hairballs, and helps to spread oil throughout the coat to keep it shiny and healthy. It also allows you to find wounds or lumps early on, notice areas of pain, and can be a great way to bond with your companion. A professional grooming generally also includes trimming the nails, cleaning the ears, and expressing the anal glands. These are also important for the comfort and wellness of your pets.

I wish you and your companion’s health and happiness in 2014 and beyond.

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Routine health exams are critical to pet wellness
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Sunday, 18 November 2018