Pets are more than four-legged creatures who share our homes. They’re part of the family. And as family, you want to make sure they stay healthy. These tips will help you keep your fur babies healthy and happy year-round.
Schedule yearly checkups
Pets can’t say how they’re feeling. That’s why you need a yearly vet exam to catch serious issues — such as diabetes, heart problems, and kidney disease — early. That way, you can take the necessary steps to help prolong your pet’s life. For anxious pets, ask your vet if they make house calls or switch to a mobile veterinary clinic.
Maintain their healthy weight
Nearly 56% of dogs and 60% of cats are overweight or obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP). Pet obesity can lead to serious health problems, including kidney failure, diabetes, and heart disease. Avoid overfeeding your pet and make sure they get daily exercise. APOP recommends 30 minutes of physical activity each day for dogs and three five-minute intense play periods for cats. Bonus: Exercising your pet provides mental stimulation and helps reduce destructive behavior. Your vet can suggest ways to help them lose weight safely.
Stay up to date on their shots
Vaccines aren’t only for people. Pets need certain immunizations to protect them from highly contagious and deadly illnesses, including rabies and distemper. Ask your vet what vaccines your pet needs.
Take care of their teeth
Tooth decay and oral disease can cause pets to lose weight because it hurts to eat. Oral bacteria that enter the bloodstream can also lead to other health issues, such as heart disease. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends brushing your pet’s teeth daily as well as getting yearly professional dental cleanings.
Check for allergies
Pets who excessively lick, chew, and scratch themselves may have allergies. Other tell-tale signs: discharge from their eyes, gunk in their ears, or constant sneezing. Like people, pets can have seasonal allergies. Some pets can also have allergies to the food they eat or chemicals in their environments. If you suspect allergies, make an appointment with your vet. They can help you pinpoint the cause and suggest treatment options.
Get help from your local pharmacist
Many pets need medications for the short or long term. But it’s not always easy to administer them. If you struggle to give your pet their medicine, talk to your local pharmacist. Many offer compounding services. Mixing prescriptions into pastes or liquids makes them easier for pets to swallow. Your pharmacist can add in flavors, like chicken or tuna, so pets feel like they’re getting a treat. If your vet prescribes a medication, your pharmacist can answer any questions you have, including how to best administer it.
Spay or neuter your pet
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, getting your pet fixed may help protect against serious health problems. Early spaying of female cats and dogs reduces their risk of uterine infections and breast cancer. Neutering your male pet reduces its risk of developing testicular cancer or an enlarged prostate gland. Each year, millions of unwanted cats and dogs are euthanized. Sterilization helps control the pet population and reduces the number of unwanted animals.
Protect them from the elements
During the cold winter months, put a coat on your canine or feline friend. When there’s snow on the ground, there are often salt and chemicals, which can irritate pets skin and make them sick if they lick them. When they come indoors, clean off their paws and stomach. Booties can prevent their paw pads from getting red and cracked. Pets are also at risk from sun damage. According to the American Kennel Club, skin tumors are the most commonly diagnosed cancer in dogs. Stick to the shady side of the street when walking your dog and provide a sheltered space for your pet to hang out in the backyard.