Statistics show that following these basic items may increase your pet’s life up to 5 years.
1. Spaying or Neutering and placing a microchip at an appropriate age.
— Spaying and neutering is the best way to protect our beloved pets’ lifelong health. Health risks such as life-threatening infections, cancer, unwanted pregnancies, injuries from getting out of yard or house like being hit by a car, or attacked by another animal, can be prevented with spaying or neutering before a pet becomes sexually mature. This usually means by the time our friend is 6 months old.
–Microchips are so important!! Dogs with microchips are twice as likely to be found by their owners if lost, and cats are reunited with their family 15 times more often. An important and interesting fact: 41% of missing or lost cats are indoor cats!!
2. Regular exams and immunizations.
The AVMA recommends that pets under 7 years of age receive yearly physical exams. Pets who are 7 or older should receive exams every 6 months.
Routine exams done yearly or every 6 months along with necessary vaccines are crucial to the longevity of our furry family members. Exams many times reveal health issues that can be addressed before they become more serious problems. Vaccines protect dogs and cats from many horrible sometimes life-threatening diseases throughout his or her life.
3. Regular wellness lab work
I often hear, “Do I really need to have lab work done on my pet?” “He is obviously healthy, and there are no signs that he is sick”.
Regular wellness blood work is the absolute best way to detect metabolic diseases early, often before there are symptoms and more importantly before there is major damage or problems. Did you know that as many as 10-15% of healthy pets have one or more abnormalities in their lab work? Early detection of diseases allows for swift and proper medical intervention
The AVMA recommends yearly wellness lab work. If your furry family member is 7 years old or older this is crucial to a good understanding of their health and well-being. If your pet is 10 or older then it is recommended that they have their lab work done every 6 months. I know the majority of pet owners would be willing to follow this protocol if they knew it could add significant time that they could enjoy the companionship of their friend.
4. Appropriate precautions for pets undergoing anesthesia
On this same note, animals that are undergoing anesthetic procedures should have current lab screening in place. This along with IV fluid therapy and proper monitoring will help assure an uneventful procedure and a smooth and quick recovery.
5. Regular dental cleanings
Probably the single most overlooked condition in our pets is their dental health. Honestly, most pet owners do not look at their dog or cat’s teeth. They don’t get looked at until they come in for their wellness checks. Many times I find that my clients are shocked to see how bad their furry friends’ teeth are and equally shocked at the halitosis. Our motto is “flip the lip”, “peek and sniff”.
As many as 75% of pets have dental disease by the time they are 2 years old. Good health and longevity depend tremendously on the health of teeth and gums. Dental disease can lead to kidney, liver and heart disease. Dental disease has also been linked to diabetes. The American Veterinary Dental Society recommends that cats and dogs have their teeth cleaned by 5 years old and yearly dentals thereafter.
After all, if you compare your pets to humans, we get or should get our teeth cleaned every 6 months, and we brush twice a day (hopefully). Think about it.
Dogs less than 20lbs have the most serious dental disease, and usually need a dental cleaning by the time them 2-3 years old, and definitely yearly after that. Protect the health and longevity of yo ur friend. Give them the gift of 5 more years. Be proactive in the dental care of your pet.
6. Monthly parasite control
Parasites pose a threat to our pet’s health and human health as well. Internal parasites are currently considered an epidemic with more 20% of dogs and 30-40% of cats being infected. Parasites are easy to prevent and treat and AVMA as well as Companion animal Parasite council recommend monthly treatment and prevention. Monthly heartworm prevention is generally also effective at treating and preventing infection with intestinal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms. There are other parasites however, like Giardia and Coccidia that are not covered with monthly heartworm prevention. That is why it is extremely important to have a fecal analysis done on your pet at least once a year.
Fleas and ticks are external parasites that also plague our four-legged companions. These parasites besides causing local skin issues can also introduce disease into the bloodstream of our pets. In addition, fleas, when ingested, can allow a tapeworm (another intestinal parasite) to form. Fleas carry the tapeworm egg packet in their body and when they are digested the eggs are released to start the cycle.
There are so many great flea and tick prevention products available now that it is easy to keep our family friend parasite free.
7. Weight control
Overweight pets and obesity are currently an epidemic in our population. Over 60% of the dogs and cats that come into our clinic are overweight, and not just a little overweight. Obesity can cause liver disease, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, cancer, and premature death. Overweight pets die on the average 4 years earlier than dogs and cats who are normal weight. Obesity is primarily due to overfeeding, especially treats and high fat processed human food. This combined with a lack of regular exercise ultimately leads to weight gain and weight associated issues. Cats and dogs that are at an optimum weight simply live longer healthier, happier lives.
8. Superior Nutrition
What our dog or cat eats throughout his life has a major impact on lifelong health. Superior Nutrition means that your pet is eating high-quality healthy food. Quality ingredients are digested and metabolized better which leads to better overall health, longer life, and ….less waste to clean up. There are many good food choices available. You need to pay attention to the ingredients. How much filler is used, how much preservative, what are the fat, protein and fiber content? Always check the expiration dates on the food you purchase for your pet. The veterinary diet I recommend is Royal Canin. Royal Canin is a very good company, with a good reputation for quality fresh diets. They also have an excellent over the counter (OTC) line of diets. Other OTC diets I recommend are Blue, Wellness, Innova, and Taste of the Wild, there are many good products out there, and in this case, you definitely get what you pay for.