For many of us, the new year signals a fresh start, a new chapter, and 365 opportunities for positive change. At Neighborhood Veterinary Centers, we’re feeling especially motivated to help every owner make this year their pet’s best one yet. And, it’s not too late to get started. Here are our top 10 favorite strategies for supporting pet health in 2023.
#1: Keep up to date with your pet’s preventive care
This should come as no surprise—the single most important decision you can make about your pet’s health is bringing them to Neighborhood Veterinary Centers for their annual wellness exam and services. This is the best way to ensure your pet’s current and future health, because early disease and injury detection allow us to address illness and weakness before they affect your pet’s everyday life.
#2: Give your pet’s parasite prevention year-round
Flea, tick, and heartworm disease preventives can be effective only if administered to your pet. As little as one missed dose can leave your pet vulnerable to life-altering disease or an uncomfortable infestation. Untreated pets are also more likely to expose their human family members to parasitic infection, infestation, and zoonotic disease.
If you have trouble remembering to give your pet their preventives every 30 or 90 days, set up a phone reminder or single-dose autoship in our online store.
#3: Care for your pet’s dental health
Oral health can significantly impact your pet’s quality of life. Periodontal disease is a painful, progressive, but completely preventable condition that affects 70% of cats and 80% of dogs by the time they are 2 years of age. Proactive dental care, including daily at-home toothbrushing, annual examinations, and periodic professional dental cleanings under anesthesia, can prevent or correct harmful plaque and tartar buildup and keep your pet pain free.
#4: Exercise your pet daily
Physical activity is one of the easiest and most economical ways to transform your pet’s physical and mental health. Sadly, most modern pets do not get enough daily exercise, which is contributing to increased pet obesity and behavior disorders.
Dogs should typically receive 30 to 90 minutes of moderately intense exercise, while cats—in a perfect world—should aim for 20 to 30 minutes divided into smaller intervals throughout the day.
#5: Feed your pet for optimum health
Your pet’s meal time is an opportunity for change. If you’re currently free-feeding your pet (i.e., letting them graze on food all day), transition to twice-daily meal feeding to improve digestion and prevent overeating. If you’re unsure how much to feed your pet, ask your veterinarian to determine their daily calorie requirement. Limit your pet’s treats to no more than 10% of their daily calorie allotment.
#6: Help your pet lose weight
Pet obesity is not an aesthetic problem—it’s a serious health issue that leads to chronic health issues and can shorten your pet’s life by as much as 2.5 years.
Fortunately, obesity doesn’t have to be lifelong and your pet can regain their healthy weight with your dedicated effort and your veterinarian’s guidance. Schedule a weight loss consultation to start your pet on the path to their ideal weight and good health.
#7: Sign up for training classes or teach your pet a trick
Training isn’t only for puppies—dogs and cats of all ages enjoy learning new behaviors and skills. Training not only improves your pet’s manners, but also their confidence, independence, and resiliency, which helps them feel secure in unfamiliar situations and environments. If you’re not ready for an in-person class, check out the countless online tutorials and training courses.
#8: Identify and minimize your pet’s stressors
Stress isn’t an exclusively human problem—stress in pets negatively affects their mental and physical health. If your pet is anxious, nervous, or displays inappropriate behavior, look for hidden stress sources, such as:
- Medical conditions (e.g., pain, nausea)
- Aggression or bullying from other pets
- Difficulty accessing resources (e.g., litter box, food, water)
- Social anxiety (e.g., frequent visitors in the home)
- Noise phobia
- Inconsistent communication (e.g., household members using different commands or allowing inappropriate behavior)
#9: Learn how to perform basic pet care tasks
Basic husbandry tasks such as ear cleaning, toenail trimming, and grooming should be part of your pet’s weekly care routine, while toothbrushing should be performed at least three times weekly. If you’re unsure about performing these tasks, our knowledgeable team can provide one-on-one demonstrations and coaching.
#10: Make your home more pet-accessible
Home design doesn’t normally cater to four-legged family members, but compromising your interior aesthetic can improve your pet’s comfort and safety. Consider adding ramps or pet stairs near beds or furniture where small or senior pets may struggle to get up or down. Place runner rugs or yoga mats on slick floors to improve your pet’s traction and prevent serious injuries. If your pet is anxious around visitors or during noisy events, ensure they have a safe, private hideaway, such as a crate or pen in a quiet low-traffic area.
Improving your pet’s health may sound like a big goal, but a goal you can achieve with many small successes. Neighborhood Veterinary Centers encourages you to join us in our commitment to advancing pet health and happiness by picking one goal from our list and starting today. To schedule your pet’s wellness exam or for more information about any of the above steps, call on your knowledgeable and caring neighbors at Neighborhood Veterinary Centers.
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