A healthy pet is a happy pet, and responsible pet owners know that their beloved pets’ health rests largely on the owners’ shoulders. Ensuring a pet is healthy over the long haul can be quite simple. While some pets may develop medical conditions that require more attention, the following are a few simply ways pet owners can keep their pets healthy.
Don’t skip visits to the veterinarian.
Unlike humans, pets can’t speak for themselves, so it’s quite possible that a pet could be hurting or dealing with a medical condition while its owner has no idea. Annual veterinary checkups can help avoid such situations, and the vet might notice a developing condition before it becomes anything serious. If a pet’s behavior suddenly changes, then schedule a veterinarian visit as soon as possible, as this behaviorial change could be indicative of a medical issue.
Prioritize vaccinations. Vaccinations can protect a pet from a host of ailments, including rabies, distemper and Lyme disease. New pet owners who adopted a pet from a rescue organization should get documentation about the animal’s past vaccinations (certified kennels typically provide such documentation at the time of adoption). If there is no such documentation or if there are documents showing the pet received certain vaccinations but not necessarily all of its vaccinations, take the pet to the veterinarian and have the animal receive those vaccinations that aren’t documented.
Spay or neuter the pet. Spaying or neutering a pet is a preventive measure that can help a pet in the long haul. Spaying, or removing the ovaries and uterus of a female dog or cat, can prevent diseases, such as breast cancer and pyometra, as well as infection and keep the animal from going into heat. Neutering a male a dog or cat before it reaches six months can reduce the likelihood that the animal will behave aggressively while helping to prevent testicular cancer, diseases of the prostate and hernias.
Help the pet fight heartworms. Heartworms isn’t easy to treat, but it is easily prevented. Cat owners should speak to their veterinarian about heartworms and the best course of action, as cats are less likely to develop heartworms than dogs, who are natural hosts for the infection. Dogs should be tested for them annually in the early spring, and the veterinarian might prescribe a preventive medication the dog will take once per month. How long the dog must take the medication depends on the dog and the veterinarian, but dog owners should heed the vet’s advice.
Get your pet off the couch. Humans should not be couch potatoes, and neither should their pets. Regular exercise burns calories while increasing muscle mass and improving cardiovascular strength. Dog owners should know that how much exercise their dog needs depends on its breed, age, sex and physical condition, so discuss a proper exercise regimen with your veterinarian. Cats need exercise, too, and cat owners should also discuss the specifics with their vet.