By Dr. Sarah Wallace
Your pet is everything to you. A source of endless affection and wet kisses. Loud purrs and morning cuddles. At Fuzzy Pet Health, we’re all about preventing illness, not just curing it, because we recognize the incredible role your pet plays in your life. As a pet parent, you make decisions every single day that can impact your pets’ health. The decisions that ensure you’re doing everything you can to keep your pet as healthy as possible is what we refer to collectively as preventive care.
DOES PREVENTIVE CARE REALLY MATTER?
Preventive care for pets goes beyond the boosters your kitten or pup need to get, and sure, an annual exam with your vet is a good start. However, much like the measures you take to protect yourself against the flu in the winter, the food choices you make to avoid high cholesterol, and even routine activities like brushing your teeth and flossing to prevent gum disease – your pet needs much of the same care to protect them against similar health issues.
If you need a more practical and economic reason to consider implementing a strong preventive care program: proactively preventing future issues will most likely save you money on vet bills, trips to the emergency clinic and emotional distress in the short and long run.
We put together a a list of preventive care basics to get you started on the track towards a happy and healthy life with your pet. Reach out if you have any questions and our vet team will be happy to answer them!
REGULAR WELLNESS EXAMS WITH A VETERINARIAN
A regular wellness exam is a full physical nose-to-tail assessment of your pet that checks for a variety of health issues. Having these done every year increases the chances of catching any health issues early on; the earlier a health problem is detected, the more proactive the treatment. Older pets, should have a physical exam more frequently. Your vet should take the time to dive in to the other aspects of your pet’s life with you as well - their lifestyle, medical history, behavior, diet and activity levels. They should give you practical tips, suggestions or even praise you for being the rockstar pet parent you are. We recommend a vet checkup every twelve months for healthy pets, and every three to six months for older (ahem, more experienced…) pets, or those with chronic conditions.
Much like it sounds, preventive medications are essential to preventive care. Regular doses of heartworm, flea, intestinal parasites and tick prevention help keep your pet healthy and protected year-round. Whether your fuzzy is an outdoor adventurer or the indoor Boss of the House, these nasty parasites can find their way in to your home via you, guests or other fuzzies they interact with, so it’s best to keep them protected no matter the season or environment.
DIET & EXERCISE
It’s okay…we’ve all shared our own food and treats with our pets at some point. Those big ol’ begging eyes are hard to resist but pet parents – STAY STRONG! A treat here and there doesn’t deem you the worst pet parent in the world, but a pet’s diet is probably the biggest contributor to their longstanding health. In order to make sure your pet is fueled with the proper foods, have a chat with your veterinarian (or if you want to take matters into your own hands, take a look atAAFCO standardsfor a complete and balanced diet). A healthy diet prevents dozens of health problems from developing over time, such as arthritis or diabetes. As pets age, their diet becomes of even greater importance.
Exercise goespaw in pawwith your pet’s diet and is important for your pet’s physical, mental and in many cases, behavioral health. Depending on factors like your pet’s energy level, age, breed and body condition score, they’ll need different types and amounts of exercise to keep them healthy and stimulated. It’s important to have a chat with your veterinarian about the right, personalized exercise program best fit for your pet’s goals.
Did you know that dental disease is one of the most commonly diagnosed diseases in adult pets? Dental disease can quickly spread to internal organs causing serious health issues and severe discomfort. Vets recommend brushing your pet’s teethat least three timesa week to help prevent tartar buildup and gingivitis. But, just like you and me, daily care is best! If your pet is more than 3 years old, he may also need regular dental cleanings to check under the gum line. We do not recommend anesthesia-free cleanings due to potential harm to your pet.
It’s nice when your pet is looking and smelling fabulous after a stylish cut, but grooming is more than looks. You should be sure to trim your pet’s nails regularly to protect against them tearing! Long nails make it painful and awkward for your pet to walk and stand. It’s also important to keep their ears clean by flushing them periodically to avoid potential infection. As long as you have the proper guidance, you can take care of your pet’s nails and ears at home as often as needed.