8 Ways To Optimize Your Pet’s Health
1. Spay or neuter your pet
Spaying is the common name of the surgical procedure that consists of the removal of the ovaries and the uterus of a female pet. On the other hand, neutering refers to the surgical removal of the male testicles.
Spaying or neutering your dog has several advantages for your dog, your family and your community. You should consider the surgery unless you are planning on breeding your pet.
If you spay or neuter your dog, you can save money on veterinary bills because it reduces the risk of many diseases, including uterine infections and mammary gland cancer.
It also eliminates the risk of ovarian cancer. In males, the risk of testicular cancer is eliminated and decreases the incidence of prostate disease.
Unlike what is popularly believed, spaying or neutering your pet will not make your pet obese. You should make sure that your pet is receiving an adequate diet and that he or she is making enough physical activity in order to prevent obesity.
2. Prevent infectious disease
Puppies are usually vaccinated against Rabies, Distemper Virus, Hepatitis, Parvovirus and Parainfluenza beginning at 6 weeks of age. Cats are usually vaccinated against Rabies, Herpesvirus (rhinotracheitis), Calicivirus and Feline Panleukopenia starting at 8 weeks of age.
You should take your pet to a veterinarian who will create an adequate vaccination schedule based on your geographic location and your pet’s age.
3. Prevent heartworm and other parasites
Canine heartworm is a serious disease caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis, which lives in the lungs, heart and associated vasculature of an infected animal.
In 2009, there were approximately 1,100,000 dogs that tested positive for heartworm disease in the United States (American Heartworm Society). Dogs and cats should receive their first monthly heartworm preventive at 6 weeks of age and continue with the treatment during their whole lives.
If your dog does not receive the preventive treatment at this age he/she will need a heartworm test before he/she starts taking the monthly preventive. Take your pet to your local vet before you start giving heartworm preventive.
Other common parasites of dogs and cats include hookworms, roundworms and whipworms. Your pet should be dewormed when he/she is a puppy or a kitten and then annually or twice a year depending on your pet’s exposure to parasites.
4. Provide enough physical activity to your pet
Just like humans, pets need to perform physical activities on a daily basis in order to prevent chronic diseases such as obesity and osteoarthritis. Try taking your pet for a walk or playing with him/her for at least 30 minutes each day.
5. Try using some supplements
Nowadays dogs and cats live longer lives as a result of their relationships with humans. This has lead to the development of certain diseases or conditions related to age.
Some chronic diseases such as osteoarthritis, renal insufficiency and stress/anxiety can be managed with nutritional supplements.
For example, it has been proven that several dietary supplements such as glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids) and Perna mussels can reduce the signs of osteoarthritis in dogs and cats.
6. Avoid over the counter medications
Just like us, dogs and cats can suffer from pain and allergies that do not seem to require a visit to the doctor.
It is easy to think that we can give our pets the same over the counter medications that are good for us, like aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil), but these medications are very dangerous to dogs and cats.
Certain over the counter medications like Benadryl are useful for treating allergies, bug bites, and other causes of itchy skin in dogs and cats.
If you are not certain that a medication is safe for your pet, you should not administer it. Always ask your veterinarian before you medicate your pet.
7. Groom your pet regularly
Dogs and cats are our close companions and we want them to have a shiny hair coat, clean appearance and pleasant odor.
The ideal frequency of baths will depend on your dog’s lifestyle. If your dog lives indoors and he/she does not get dirty frequently, you should bathe him/her once or twice per month.
On other hand, dogs who live outdoors or perform frequent physical activities may need to be bathed every week. You can use a dog shampoo, baby shampoo or liquid dishwasher to bath your dog.
Human shampoos are not recommended for dogs because they have pH regulated for human skin and this can dry your pet’s skin excessively leading to skin problems.
8. Prevent oral diseases in your pet
According to The American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC), most dogs and cats have some evidence of periodontal disease (gum disease) by the age of three years. Periodontal disease is defined as the development of plaque from the accumulation of bacteria in the mouth.
Gum disease has been linked to several health problems such as diabetes mellitus, renal, hepatic and cardiac disease. It is important to start brushing your pet’s teeth at a young age to allow him/her to become used to oral care.
Before a toothbrush is introduced, try giving a gum massage to help your pet get used to having his/her mouth manipulated. It is important that you use toothpaste specially created for dogs because human toothpaste may cause stomach upset in dogs.
Dog’s teeth should be brushed every day; however, this is often not feasible. You should brush your dog’s teeth at least once a week.