Our pets are an important part of our family. They tend to go with us places and are an important part of our lives. October is National Pet Wellness Month! It was created to help recognize the importance of assuring our pets are healthy and remain part of the family for as long as possible.
Dogs and cats age seven times faster than humans on average. Every year of our pet’s life, their body undergoes the changes our bodies undergo in seven years. As a general rule, there are a lot of changes in our body in seven years. Those same changes are condensed into a single year in our pets. While no one can change the rapid aging of our pets, we can change how they age and their quality of life.
The following recommendations are designed to help our pets be healthy and happy.
• Visit Your Veterinarian Every Six Months
The American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) recommends two yearly visits or a complete check up every six months. Due to the fact that our pets age faster, health issues may appear sooner. An exam every six months provides the opportunity for early detection and treatment of potentially life threatening conditions.
• Dental Care
According to the American Veterinary Dental College, periodontal (gum and bone) disease is the most common clinical condition occurring in adult dogs and cats. 85% of all dogs and cats have periodontal disease by three years of age. Periodontal disease develops as food and bacteria collect along the gum line, forming plaque in a pet’s mouth. This is made worse in small dogs because they have crowding and rotation of teeth. Just as in humans, build-up of oral bacteria can lead not only to destruction of bone structure and pain in the mouth, but major health issues including heart, liver, and kidney disease.
• Weight Management
According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 4 out 5 of our pets are obese in the United States. Often people do not recognize their pets are overweight or how severe it is. Most of our pets are overweight due to free feeding or feeding excessive treats. Often in the process of loving our pets with food, they have more health problems and shorter lives. Feeding foods that are advertised for weight management are ineffective in solving the problem. It is important to work with your veterinarian on this issue.
• Blood Profiles
Routine blood tests are needed at least on a yearly basis. Just as people have blood work done, regular blood tests help to identify many common problems before clinical signs are present. It is much easier to manage disease before it becomes advanced and presents with clinical signs. Certain breeds that are prone to cancer benefit form imaging (x-rays and ultrasound) as they age.
• Preventive Medications
Fleas, ticks, and heartworms cause serious (and even deadly) problems for our pets. Often because owners don’t see these parasites, they don’t think it is a concern for their pets. Unfortunately, these parasites are very good at hiding in the hair of our pets and we fail to see them. Not only do they cause major irritation, they spread several life threatening diseases. Mosquitoes carry Heartworm larvae and it is impossible to see every time your pet is bitten by a mosquito.
Following these five simple tips will keep your pets happy and healthy for a long time to come. If you are unfamiliar with any of these subjects, your veterinarian will be more than happy to visit with you and answer any questions. We are on the same team – Team Healthy Pet!