No one likes to think about saying goodbye to a beloved pet, but you don’t need to find the Fountain of Youth to add years to your pet’s life. Our Burlington Veterinary Center team provides strategies that will help keep your pet healthy and prolong their life.
#1: Spay or neuter your pet
A spayed or neutered pet has a significantly longer lifetime than pets left intact, which is partly attributed to an unaltered pet’s desire to roam that can expose them to dangers such as traffic, infection, parasites, andwildlife and other pet attacks. Other health benefits include:
- For female pets — Spaying your female pet before her first heat cycle protects her against dangerous uterine infections and mammary cancer.
- For male pets — Neutering your male pet prevents testicular cancer and lessens his prostate disease risk.
#2: Ensure your pet remains at a healthy weight
Pet obesity is an increasing problem in the United States, and puts pets at higher risk for conditions such as cancer, diabetes, kidney failure, and arthritis. Steps to keep your pet at a healthy weight include:
- Calculating your pet’s caloric needs — Consider your pet’s weight, activity level, spay or neuter status, and age to calculate their daily caloric needs. Online pet calorie calculators are available to make this process easier.
- Reading your pet’s food label — Read your pet’s food label to determine how much food they need per day to meet their calorie requirements.
- Measuring your pet’s food — Accurately measure your pet’s food portions with a measuring cup or a kitchen scale to ensure they are fed the correct amount.
- Monitoring your pet’s weight status — Weigh your pet and assess their body conditioning score (BCS) every month to monitor their weight status.
#3: Schedule regular pet wellness checks
Many pets don’t exhibit signs indicating they are ill until their condition is advanced, but regular wellness checks can help detect health complications in the early stages when they are more easily managed. Healthy adult pets should be seen by a veterinary professional once a year, and senior pets at least every six months. A typical wellness check includes:
- Thorough physical exam — Our veterinary team thoroughly evaluates your pet, listening to their heart and lungs, palpating their abdomen, and assessing every aspect of their body.
- Blood work — We perform a complete blood count (CBC) and biochemistry profile to evaluate your pet’s overall health and help our team detect conditions such as infection, anemia, diabetes, electrolyte imbalances, and kidney and liver disease.
- Urinalysis — Our veterinary team evaluates your pet’s urine, assessing the color, content, and concentration to detect issues such as urinary tract infection, urinary stones, diabetes, and kidney disease.
- Fecal check — We check your pet’s feces for parasites such as roundworms, whipworms, hookworms, giardia, and coccidia.
- Vaccinations — A routine wellness visit is a perfect time to ensure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date. Our veterinary team will consider your pet’s lifestyle and tailor an individualized vaccination program.
#4: Provide year-round parasite prevention for your pet
Ensure your pet receives year-round prevention medication for parasites such as fleas, ticks, heartworms, and intestinal worms. All pets, including indoor-only pets, should be treated to protect them against diseases, such as:
- Flea bite hypersensitivity — Flea bite hypersensitivity is a common pet allergy that causes significant skin irritation and potentially secondary infections.
- Tick-borne illness — Tick-borne illnesses, such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, can cause significant health complications for pets.
- Heartworm disease — Heartworms are parasites transmitted by mosquitoes that can severely damage your pet’s heart and lungs, and be potentially life-threatening.
#5: Ensure your pet receives appropriate dental care
Dental disease is a common problem in pets. Leftover food particles attract bacteria that form plaque on your pet’s teeth and can invade under their gum line, causing problems such as halitosis, swollen and bleeding gums, loose teeth, and infected tooth roots. In addition, the bacteria can enter your pet’s bloodstream and target the heart, kidneys, and liver. Ensuring your pet receives appropriate dental care is the best way to help prevent dental disease. Recommendations include:
- Scheduling professional veterinary dental cleanings — During a professional veterinary dental cleaning, your pet is anesthetized so we can thoroughly evaluate their mouth and remove the problematic bacteria from their teeth and under their gum line. Your pet’s mouth should be evaluated at least once a year to determine if they need dental cleaning.
- Brushing your pet’s teeth — In addition to a professional veterinary dental cleaning, you should brush your pet’s teeth at home each day to remove plaque accumulation.
#6: Provide adequate exercise for your pet
Pets need sufficient mental and physical exercise to work off excess energy and prevent boredom. Some breeds require more physical activity than others, but all pets should be mentally and physically stimulated daily.
We all want our pets to live forever, and while this isn’t possible, you can prolong their life. If you would like to schedule a wellness exam or a professional veterinary dental cleaning, contact our Fear Free team at Burlington Veterinary Center, so we can help add years to your pet’s life.
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