You love your pet, but unfortunately, their life span is much too short. While you can’t make them live forever, you can be your pet’s hero, and take steps to add years to their life. Our American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)-accredited team at Boca Midtowne Animal Hospital wants to help by providing strategies that can prolong your pet’s life.
#1: Bring your pet to Boca Midtowne Animal Hospital for semi-annual wellness exams
Many pets hide their vulnerabilities really well, and they may not always exhibit signs they are sick until their condition is in the advanced stages. Bringing in your pet for wellness exams allows our veterinary professionals to catch health issues in the early stages, when conditions are easier to treat and manage. What does a wellness exam entail?
- Your pet will receive a thorough physical examination — Our veterinarian will assess your pet from nose to tail, looking for any abnormalities that could negatively impact their quality of life. Conditions such as cataracts, heart disease, arthritis, and abdominal tumors can be appreciated on a physical exam.
- Your pet will have blood work performed — A complete blood count and a biochemistry profile will be performed, to assess your pet’s immune status and ensure their organs are functioning properly. Conditions such as kidney disease, liver disease, and anemia can be diagnosed on routine blood work.
- Your pet will have a urinalysis performed — Assessing your pet’s urine can diagnose problems such as urinary tract infections, urinary stones, and diabetes.
#2: Keep your pet at a healthy weight
A 2018 survey revealed that an estimated 60% of cats and 56% of dogs in the United States were overweight or obese, and pet obesity remains a serious health threat, causing issues such as cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and urinary tract disease. Monitoring your pet’s weight and diet will help keep them at a healthy weight, and ensure they aren’t affected by these conditions. Strategies include:
- Determine your pet’s weight status — Ask our veterinary professionals to provide an unbiased determination of your pet’s weight status. Your pet’s cute face and fluffy coat may make an honest assessment difficult for you.
- Monitor your pet’s weight status — Weigh your pet regularly, so you can track their weight. You should also use a body conditioning score (BCS), which more accurately assesses their weight status.
- Calculate your pet’s daily energy requirements — Determine how many calories your pet needs every day with a pet calorie calculator. Your pet’s age, weight, activity level, and spay or neuter status should be considered when calculating their energy requirements.
- Measure your pet’s food — Use measuring cups to accurately measure your pet’s food portion, to ensure they receive the correct amount.
#3: Provide dental care for your pet
Periodontal disease affects the majority of pets by the time they reach 3 years of age. Bacteria are attracted by food particles left in your pet’s mouth, and these pathogens can damage the structures supporting your pet’s teeth, and cause serious issues, including oral pain, loose teeth, tooth root infections, and jaw fractures. In addition, the bacteria can enter your pet’s bloodstream, damaging their organs, including the heart, kidneys, and liver. Steps you should take to keep your pet’s mouth healthy include:
- Regular professional veterinary dental cleanings — Your pet should receive a professional dental cleaning once a year. This is the only way to effectively remove bacteria from your pet’s teeth and below their gum line, where the issue is most problematic.
- Daily toothbrushing — The best way to keep your pet’s mouth healthy between professional dental cleanings is brushing their teeth daily. Ensure you use pet-specific products, since human dental products can be toxic to pets.
- Dental chews — Dental chews approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) can help remove some plaque and tartar from your pet’s teeth.
#4: Provide year-round parasite control for your pet
Your pet needs year-round protection against parasites, to ensure they remain healthy. These prevention medications will protect your pets from parasites:
- Fleas — These bloodthirsty parasites can cause issues including flea bite dermatitis, anemia, and tapeworms.
- Ticks — Ticks are extremely hardy, and can transmit several diseases, including Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis.
- Heartworms — These parasites are transmitted by mosquitoes, and can cause significant, life-threatening damage to your pet’s heart and lungs.
- Gastrointestinal parasites — Parasites, such as hookworms, whipworms, roundworms, tapeworms, giardia, and coccidia, can affect your pet’s health by causing issues such as diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss.
#5: Ensure your pet receives adequate mental and physical exercise
Your pet needs physical and mental exercise to remain healthy and stimulated. In addition to helping control your pet’s weight, physical and mental activity can help prevent cognitive dysfunction, a condition similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans. Ideas to keep your pet engaged include:
- Food puzzle toys — Feed your pet their meal in a food puzzle toy, so they have to work to fill their stomach.
- Play hide and seek — Hide from your pet, and let them use their tracking and hunting skills to find you.
- Build an obstacle course — Create an obstacle course using household items such as broomsticks, pillow cushions, and soda bottles. Walk your pet through the course initially, so they understand what you expect.
Employing these strategies will help your pet live a long, healthy, and happy life. If you would like to schedule a wellness exam or a professional veterinary dental cleaning, contact our Fear Free team at Boca Midtowne Animal Hospital, so we can set up an appointment at a time convenient for you.