When it comes to boosting their pets’ health, pet owners aren’t always sure where to start. There’s so much information available, it’s hard to filter out the noise and focus on what matters the most.
While every pet is slightly different, wellness boils down to this: provide healthy food, schedule regular checkups and keep them happy! The following tips will put your four-legged friend on the right path toward overall wellness.
- Schedule annual checkups: Many pet parents make the mistake of skipping annual checkups. Their fur babies seem fine, so they see no reason to go in for a wellness exam. It’s crucial that owners stay on top of annual checkups because your vet can detect health problems you didn’t know were present. These exams help you address problems before they get worse, which saves money on medical procedures and extends your pet’s lifespan.
- Feed them a healthy diet: Feeding your pet just any bag of commercial food won’t do. Owners should pay attention to what’s inside the food and buy the right kind based on their pet’s age, breed and medical history. No matter the pet, always focus on giving them high-quality animal proteins, vegetables, complex grains and omega-3 fatty acids. In addition to choosing healthy ingredients, make sure you’re dishing out the right portion sizes. A well-balanced diet isn’t just about what they eat, but how much. Consult your vet for guidance on which foods are best for your pet.
- Make time for daily exercise: Exercise is one of the best things a pet parent can do for their fur baby. It offers numerous physical and mental health benefits like weight management, decreased risk of heart disease, stress relief, reduced anxiety and more. Cats typically need two 15-minute play sessions a day, while dogs require at least one hour of physical activity. You can supplement your dog’s daily walk with obedience training, fetch, agility drills or tug-of-war. Cats love puzzle feeders and interactive toys that engage their hunting instincts.
- Take behavioral changes seriously: Don’t assume your pet’s changes in behavior are a fluke. It’s not normal for a friendly, outgoing pup to suddenly turn aggressive. Behavioral changes are triggered by either a stressful environment or an underlying health problem. Irritability, anxiety, confusion and aggression are common symptoms of many chronic conditions. Pet parents should take note of when these behaviors started and ask their vet for a diagnosis. Behavioral changes could be your pet’s way of letting you know something’s wrong!
- Vaccinate and treat them for parasites: Vaccines can save your furry friend from a host of deadly illnesses. Cats and dogs must stay up to date on their distemper, parvovirus and rabies shots. Pets receive these vaccines during their first year of life, but they need additional doses every few years in order to stay protected from disease. Pet parents should also consider putting their fur babies on a year-round flea and tick treatment. A round of vaccines alongside year-long parasite prevention will keep your pet free of the most common diseases their whole life.
- Spay or neuter your fur baby: Altering pets can actually provide many health benefits. These procedures stop unwanted behaviors and protect against certain types of cancer. For instance, altered pets have a lower frequency of marking, becoming aggressive or wandering away from home. Spayed or neutered pets have a dramatically reduced risk of testicular, ovarian and mammary cancer. The procedure has a positive impact on the pet population as a whole, too. By altering your pet, you’re saving potential litters from ending up as strays or in overcrowded shelters.
- Socialize them with other pets: Wellness goes far beyond diet, exercise and medical procedures. In order to keep your pet both happy and healthy, they need an enriching social life. Introducing your cat or dog to other pets provides mental stimulation and teaches them how to coexist in the same environment. You can socialize a dog by going for walks, visiting the dog park, signing up for obedience classes or enrolling in doggy daycare. Consider adopting two cats whose personalities mesh well together.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. The wellness tips mentioned here are a great start, but owners should consider additional lifestyle changes based on their pet’s individual needs. A vet can use their expertise to guide you on decisions about your pet’s daily health routine. Four-legged companions are sure to live life to the fullest with a vet and loving owner by their side!