A healthy pet is a happy pet. And a happy pet will be more playful, more loving, and better able to bond with their human companions. Keeping your pet healthy will also ensure that they live as long as possible, maximizing the time you have with the animals you adore. Common problems to look out for include parasites (like heartworm, fleas, and ticks), allergies, and osteoarthritis.
Heartworm is a disease transmitted to dogs by bites from infected mosquitos. The disease can be fatal, but it can also be prevented. Ask your veterinarian about a prescription for a heartworm preventative. These preventatives can come as monthly chewable pills, topical treatments, or injections that last six to 12 months.
Fleas and ticks — and the diseases they carry — are also a cause of problems for both cats and dogs. Depending on where you live, flea and tick season can be as short as May through October or as long as year-round. This map can help you learn when your pets are most at risk. For fleas and ticks, prevention is the key. Monthly chewable pills and breakaway flea and tick collars can help keep pests away. So can over-the-counter topical flea and tick repellants that you apply monthly to your pet’s skin. Brushing with a fine-toothed comb can help remove loose pests when your pet comes inside, and Lyme vaccines for dogs can help keep them from getting sick if they get bit by an infected tick.
Seasonal allergies can also impact some animals. Common signs of seasonal allergies in cats and dogs include sneezing, coughing, excessive licking or scratching at irritated skin, and discharge from the eyes, ears, or nose. Oral allergy medications, as well as medicated shampoos and creams, can help ease your pet’s symptoms. Regular grooming (brushing and bathing) can help remove allergens from your pet. You can also try some of the same allergy-avoidance strategies that work for humans, like keeping windows closed, running a HEPA filter, and avoiding spending a lot of time outside when pollen counts are highest (like in the morning).
Osteoarthritis, while commonly associated with dogs, also affects cats, more often than you’d think. One of the best ways to prevent — and manage — osteoarthritis in pets is to support them in maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise. This puts less stress on their joints. Ask your veterinarian if pain medications, like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, or nutritional supplements (such as glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega-3 fatty acids) can help support joint health and reduce inflammation.
Many local independent pharmacies can fill your pet’s prescription medication. Ask your pharmacist if they can add flavoring to help your pet take their meds more easily.