One of the hardest parts about pet ownership is their short lifespan. Losing a pet is heart-wrenching, and you want them to live as long as possible. Our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of La Marque team wants to help by providing tips to improve your pet’s quality of life and increase their longevity.
#1: Schedule regular pet wellness visits
Pets should be assessed by a veterinary professional at least once a year, and every six months if they are in their senior years. “Why should my healthy pet need veterinary care?” you ask. One major reason—pets are excellent at hiding illness. While your pet spends their days lounging on the couch, their ancestors had more pressing concerns. Indications that they were ill could get them killed, and your pet has retained those instincts to protect themselves. This means they may not show outward illness signs until their condition is advanced. During a regular wellness visit, our veterinary team performs a thorough physical examination and diagnostics to help detect health complications in the early stages when they are easier to treat and manage, offering a better prognosis for your pet.
#2: Keep your pet at a healthy weight
Pet obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the United States, with veterinary health care providers considering the majority of pets overweight. However, most pet owners don’t recognize their pet’s problem. While you may think a few extra pounds can’t hurt your pet, overweight and obese pets are at increased risk for several serious health issues such as diabetes, kidney disease, arthritis, and certain cancers. Our veterinary team will assess your pet’s weight during their wellness visit, and advise you on their ideal weight. Follow these tips to help maintain your pet at a healthy weight:
- Weigh your pet — Seeing your pet daily makes noticing changes, such as weight gain, difficult. Weigh your pet every three to four weeks to ensure they are staying at their ideal weight.
- Assess your pet’s body condition score (BCS) — A BCS is a tool for determining your pet’s fat coverage by observing and palpating their body at certain points. A BCS of one indicates that your pet is extremely emaciated, and a BCS of nine indicates your pet is extremely obese. If your pet is at their ideal weight, their BCS will be around four to five.
- Calculate your pet’s calorie requirements — Consider your pet’s age, weight, BCS, activity level, and spay or neuter status to determine how many calories they need per day. Online calorie calculators can help facilitate the process.
- Measure your pet’s food — Use a measuring cup or food scale to accurately measure your pet’s meal portion.
#3: Provide dental care for your pet
Most pets have some degree of dental disease by the time they are 3 years of age. Bacteria are attracted to food particles left in your pet’s mouth after they eat, and can cause numerous problems, including bad breath, irritated and bleeding gums, loose and missing teeth, and tooth root abscesses. In addition, the bacteria can enter your pet’s bloodstream and damage organs throughout their body. Follow these tips to help promote your pet’s dental health:
- Schedule regular dental cleanings — The bacteria must be removed from under your pet’s gum line to prevent dental disease complications, and a professional veterinary dental cleaning is the only way this can be effectively accomplished. The procedure involves anesthetizing your pet so our veterinary professionals can safely and thoroughly evaluate, clean, and treat your pet’s teeth.
- Brush your pet’s teeth — Plaque continues to accumulate between professional veterinary dental cleanings, so you should brush your pet’s teeth daily to help remove the substance. Use pet-specific toothpaste, since human products can be toxic to pets, and a small, soft toothbrush to prevent gum irritation.
#4: Protect your pet from parasites year-round
Many parasites can cause health issues for your pet, who should receive year-round protection to ensure they aren’t targeted. Concerning parasites include:
- Fleas — Many pets are allergic to a flea’s saliva, resulting in severe itchiness and problematic skin lesions. In addition, these parasites can transmit tapeworms.
- Ticks — Ticks can transmit debilitating illnesses, such as Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and ehrlichiosis. In addition, certain ticks produce a toxin that can cause progressive, ascending paralysis.
- Heartworms — These parasites are transmitted by mosquitoes, and can significantly damage your pet’s heart and lungs. Most pet’s don’t exhibit signs until the infection is advanced.
- Intestinal parasites — Intestinal parasites, such as tapeworms, roundworms, whipworms, and hookworms, can cause weight loss, poor hair coat, anemia, and gastrointestinal distress.
#5: Ensure your pet gets regular exercise
All pets need daily exercise to stay fit and healthy. Some pets require more exercise than others, and you should consult our veterinary professionals for guidance concerning your pet’s activity needs. Tips to ensure your pet gets regular exercise include:
- Walk your pet — Walking is a great way to exercise small-breed dogs and those who have reached senior status. Aim for 10- to 15-minute walks at least twice a day.
- Play with your pet — For more active dogs, a strenuous game of fetch is a good way to help them get adequate exercise.
- Use appropriate toys — For cats, determine what toys they respond to best. Some cats will play fetch with the right toy, and most love chasing laser dots and wand-style toys.
Following these tips will help your pet live a long and happy life. If you would like to schedule a wellness examination for your pet, contact our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of La Marque team, so we can ensure they aren’t affected by an underlying health condition.
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