We all want our pets to live long, healthy, active lives. Yet each day in America, pets suffer from health issues that could have been prevented with a little foresight and planning.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) believes strongly in the importance of semi-annual well-animal vet visits for the health of your pet, and therefore sponsors National Pet Wellness Month each year. To support this effort—and hopefully make life a little easier for both you and your pets—here’s a quick checklist of pet wellness tips you shouldn’t skip.
Schedule semi-annual wellness visits to your vet. At the core of the AVMA’s initiative is promotion of semi-annual wellness visits to the vet. Regular well-animal check-ups can help prevent a variety of common illnesses and conditions seen in pets. Plus, semi-annual vet visits provide the opportunity for early detection for disorders that could prove more difficult or costly to treat. Outcomes for diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, tumors, and a host of other conditions are vastly improved with early detection.
Feed your pet a nutritious diet and healthy snacks. Pet obesity is a national problem and a contributing factor in a variety of other diseases like diabetes and hip dysplasia. Obesity in pets limits mobility, discourages healthful exercise, and adds unneeded stress to load-bearing joints. A healthy pet diet strives to avoid kibble that is high in carbs, to eliminate table scraps, and to limit snacks to healthy treats. Your vet is glad to work with you to recommend a diet (and specific brands of pet food) to promote a healthy weight for your pet.
Spay or neuter your pet. Stray pets are a national epidemic, especially in urban areas. Spaying and neutering your pet can help reduce the number of potential strays on the streets of your community—plus, spaying and neutering helps prevent health problems later in your pet’s life, including uterine infections and certain types of cancer. Spayed and neutered pets also tend to have longer lifespans than their un-neutered counterparts.
Be sure your pet gets sufficient exercise. Like humans, pets need exercise to build muscle, stay trim, and promote heart health. Yet while most cats can get enough exercise simply playing at home, dogs benefit greatly from some outdoor time. Even a half hour a day can help boost a dog’s health, immunity, and mood! Plus, gong for a hike, a run, or a game of fetch with your dog is good for you too!
Help prevent parasites—among both outdoor and indoor pets. Many people tend to think of flea, tick, and heartworm prevention as seasonal problems, and only for outdoor pets. But the fact is that all pets can benefit from parasite protection year-round. Parasites carry disease, and regardless of your pet’s degree of exposure, they can still be vulnerable. Ask your vet to recommend a safe, effective, and affordable long-term parasite preventative.
Microchip your pet. A lost pet can be an owner’s worst nightmare. Microchipping offers an easy and affordable way to identify a fund per that may have lost its collar or tags. If a good Samaritan finds your pet and brings it to a vet or shelter, staff can easily check for the presence of a chip that will provide your contact information, as well as info on any special care needs your pet may have. Microchipped pets are more than five times as likely to be returned safely to their owners than are their non-chipped counterparts.
Get pet insurance. A cat or dog health insurance plan can help you pay for those unexpected illnesses and injuries. For example, if your dog eats something harmful or swallows a sock—pet insurance may cover the cost of vet treatment. And later in life, if you cat develops a chronic condition—like diabetes or hyperthyroidism—a cat health insurance plan may cover the cost of medication or even surgery.
Editor’s Note: Our dogs certainly fill our lives with love and companionship—but they can also help us get off the couch and be more active. Here are ways you can get fit with your dog.
Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.
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