While we can’t make our pets live forever—as much as we wish we could—we can ensure they live the longest life possible by caring for their health and wellbeing. Our team at Country Valley Veterinary Clinic wants you to enjoy your special bond with your pet for as many years as possible, so we share seven tips to help you add years to your pet’s life.
#1: Care for your pet’s dental health
Pet owners often overlook their pet’s dental care, but such care is an important part of your pet’s health. Almost all pets have some form of dental disease by age 3, but establishing an oral hygiene routine will keep your pet’s smile healthy, and can add years to their life. Brush your pet’s teeth daily, and bring them to our hospital for regular checkups, so we can determine if they need a professional dental cleaning. This complete cleaning will reach below the gum line, remove plaque and tartar caused by oral bacteria, and remove any broken or infected teeth, as necessary. The following signs can indicate that your pet is due for a professional dental cleaning:
- Bad breath
- Yellowish-brown plaque on the teeth near the gum line
- Red and swollen gums
- Decreased appetite, or difficulty eating
- Loose or missing teeth
#2: Spay or neuter your pet
Spaying or neutering your pet contributes to their overall health and wellness. By removing non-essential reproductive organs at an appropriate age, you lower your pet’s risk of a variety of reproductive health issues, including mammary cancer in females and testicular and prostate cancer in males. You are also preventing the unwanted behaviors of non-sterilized pets, and helping minimize the overpopulation of unwanted pets.
#3: Bring your pet to annual wellness exams
The best way to help your pet have a long, happy, and healthy life is ensuring they receive regular wellness exams. During a wellness exam, your pet’s veterinarian will inspect your pet from head to tail, run diagnostics, and determine if further testing is necessary. Regular wellness screenings are an important part of your pet’s health care, because the veterinary team can detect diseases early, which leads to better treatment and an improved prognosis.
#4: Provide your pet with parasite prevention
Ensure your pet is up to date on their vaccinations, and administer monthly parasite preventives to protect them from potentially life-threatening diseases. Parasite preventives protect your pet against heartworm, fleas, ticks, tapeworms, and intestinal parasites that can all cause serious, sometimes life-threatening, health conditions if they infect your pet.
#5: Watch your pet’s weight
Keeping your pet at a healthy weight can prevent bone and joint issues, and ensure a longer, better quality life. In addition to added pressure on joints, extra weight can strain your pet’s heart and lungs. Your veterinarian can assess your pet’s body condition score (BCS) and determine if their weight is appropriate for their size, age, and breed at their regular wellness exam. They also can help you determine their calorie needs and portion sizes for a maintenance or weight-loss diet, and recommend the appropriate foods.
#6: Exercise your pet regularly
Daily physical exercise not only helps keep your pet trim, but also keeps them engaged and mentally stimulated. Try to exercise your pet for 30 minutes each day. Some simple ways to exercise your pet physically include:
- Walking or jogging
- Agility course work
- Nose work games
The following activities will keep your pet engaged while providing mental exercise:
- Interactive toys — Any toy that you use to play with your pet becomes interactive, but if you’re short on time, give your pet an engaging toy to play with independently, such as one that prompts their prey-catching instincts. Cats love anything on a spring, while dogs prefer toys that reward them with a treat.
- Games — A game of fetch is mentally and physically engaging for pets. For an added challenge, hide their favorite toy, and teach them to “Go find it.”
- Training — Pets love a job, and teaching them new tricks builds their skills and their confidence, and enhances your bond.
#7: Spend time with your pet
Quality time with your pet creates a special bond, keeps your pet mentally engaged, and gives you an opportunity to monitor any health and behavioral changes. You may notice your pet slowing down on daily walks, or discover a bump when grooming them. Noticing small changes like these early, and sharing them with your veterinarian can help them live a longer, healthier life.
Each moment you spend with your pet is special, and keeping them happy and healthy will help increase their life expectancy, and allow you to enjoy many happy years together. To schedule your pet’s next wellness examination, contact Country Valley Veterinary Clinic for an appointment.