As a pet owner, you likely feel some sadness when you consider your pet’s far-too-short life expectancy. While you can’t predict the amount of time your beloved pet will have with you, make the most of the time you have together. By putting healthy habits in place now, you help ensure your pet can live a full life, and increase their longevity. Read our Wales Animal Hospital team’s tips for adding years to your pet’s life.
#1: Take care of your pet’s teeth
A pet’s dental health is essential to their overall wellbeing, but unfortunately, oral care is neglected far too often. Dental health is about more than fresh breath, and poor dental hygiene can cause your pet to develop serious health problems, including:
- Kidney, heart, and liver problems — Bacteria from plaque and tartar buildup can leak into your pet’s bloodstream, damaging these essential organs.
- Tooth root infections — Root infection most commonly occurs in the large, three-rooted carnassial teeth on the upper jaw (i.e., maxilla).
- Below-eye swelling — Tooth root abscesses can cause a pus-filled swelling below the eye that you may mistake for an eye or facial problem.
To maintain good oral health and prevent problems, pets require regular dental checkups and professional cleanings. In addition to regular cleanings, establish your pet’s at-home dental care routine, including twice-daily toothbrushing.
#2: Manage your pet’s weight
Your pet’s weight directly impacts their quality and quantity of life. Obese pets face a shorter life expectancy and an overall reduced quality of life than pets who are maintained at a healthy weight. Excess weight increases your pet’s risk for many dangerous health issues, including:
- Orthopedic injuries
- Respiratory issues
- Heart disease
- Kidney failure
- Anesthetic complications
While any pet can develop these conditions, you can significantly reduce your pet’s risk by keeping them at a healthy weight. Prevent obesity, and ensure many more happy years with your pet by following these tips:
- Using a measuring cup to portion your pet’s food
- Feeding small meals rather than letting your pet graze or free feed
- Exercising your pet every day
- Monitoring your pet’s body condition, and adjusting their food intake as needed
#3: Engage your pet’s mind and body
Physical exercise is essential for your pet’s health—and your own. Ensure your pet gets at least 30 minutes’ physical activity daily. Your pet’s mental stimulation is equally important as physical exercise, and toys and activities that challenge their mind will help them stay sharp. Easy ways to incorporate mental enrichment in your pet’s life include:
- Set up a scavenger hunt — Hide some treats around the house, and let your pet sniff them out.
- Rotate their toys — To keep your pet interested in forgotten items and stave off boredom, rotate their toys on a daily or weekly basis.
- Give them a puzzle — Pet puzzles and enrichment toys are specially designed to engage the mind, encouraging problem-solving through natural behaviors.
- Teach them new tricks — Teaching your pet new tricks helps prevent cognitive dysfunction and strengthens the pet-owner bond. Use positive reinforcement to reward your pet for following a command, and watch how quickly they master new skills.
- Visit new places — Give your pet opportunities to see new places and socialize with unfamiliar pets and people. New experiences keep your pet engaged, build their confidence, and are just plain fun.
#4: Protect your pet from pesky parasites
Fleas, ticks, heartworm, and intestinal parasites can wreak havoc on your pet’s health. Fortunately, you can easily protect your pet from these pests by ensuring your four-legged friend receives year-round parasite preventives and annual testing. To determine the best infectious disease prevention product for your pet, contact our Wales Animal Clinic veterinary team
#5: Provide your pet with preventive care
Regular wellness screenings can help ensure and extend your pet’s lifelong health, and forgoing your four-legged pal’s annual wellness examination can leave them vulnerable to numerous health issues. Veterinarians recommend that all pets have an annual wellness exam, depending on their age and health status, which may include the following evaluations:
- Vital signs
- Physical examination
- Oral examination
- Parasite control
- Medication evaluation
Through routine wellness exams and screening tests, your veterinarian can detect subtle changes in your pet’s health before the condition worsens. Remember, early disease detection can improve your pet’s prognosis, minimize complications, and extend your four-legged friend’s life.
You can’t protect your pet from all diseases, but taking a proactive approach to their health and wellbeing is the best way to ensure you spend many happy years together. Prioritize your four-legged friend’s health by scheduling their next wellness appointment with our Wales Animal Clinic team.