The Importance of Preventive Care for Pets
America’s Pets are in the midst of a health crisis. This crisis has nothing to do with veterinarian shortages or federal bills. It lies in the fact that many Pet families are unaware of when a Pet is ill or has a chronic disease. The result is an increase in preventable diseases, such as diabetes, kidney disease, flea infestations, thyroid disease, arthritis and obesity, according to a January 2014 report in USA Today. Just as you see the doctor for regular checkups, eat healthy foods and exercise, your Pet needs the same type of attention. While it might seem as if preventive care for Pets is unnecessary expense, you’ll find that it can dramatically decrease the cost of Pet parenthood.
Benefits of Preventive Care for Pets
Catch health problems early: Regular vet visits have decreased by up to 30 percent, while the number of emergency visits is on the rise. Dogs, cats and other companions cannot communicate or take themselves to a veterinary clinic when they feel ill, so diseases go unnoticed until the symptoms reach concerning levels. Renal diseases, for instance, often go unnoticed until a Pet loses up to 75 percent of its kidney function. Taking your Pet to the vet at least once a year will give you the ability to address health issues in their earlier stages, when they’re simpler and less expensive to treat.
Save money: Preventive measures to ensure your Pet’s health are far more cost effective than the expenses associated with treating a disease in its later stages. Regular teeth cleaning, for example, goes a long way toward ensuring good oral health and preventing diseases like periodontitis and heart problems.
Less stress for your Pet: Some families avoid taking a Pet to the veterinarian because it hates car trips or it misbehaves during medical evaluations. A serious illness that goes unnoticed, however, will place unnecessary stress on a Pet if it is in pain, needs surgery, has to take medications or must spend the night away from home.
Spend more time with your Pet: Most Pets age faster than humans do. Keeping yours in top shape with preventive care will help maximize the years that you and your beloved companion spend together.
Preventive Pet Care Tips
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Proper nutrition promotes healthy skin and coat, strong bones, longevity and overall good health. Good food is wholesome and healthful, and contains the specific nutrients that your Pet needs.
While premium Pet food costs more than bargain options, the ingredients in it are of higher quality and contain less artificial fillers, so your Pet eats less and feels fuller. Quality Pet foods are also less likely to contain ingredients that trigger allergic reactions, which may manifest as skin problems or an upset stomach. If you are not sure about what type of food is best for your Pet, consult with a veterinarian.
Limit Treats and Snacks
You’re happy when your Pet is happy, and it’s usually happy when you feed it a tasty snack. Snacks are a “sometimes” food that should only make up 10 percent or less of a Pet’s caloric intake to avoid unhealthy weight gains.
Keep in mind that the food that you eat is also a snack and, depending on the ingredients, might not be appropriate for Pets. Talk to a veterinarian to learn what types of food are OK to give your Pet for an occasional treat.
Exercising builds strong bones and muscles. It reduces stress and helps a Pet sleep better. When paired with a proper diet, regular movement keeps a Pet at a healthy weight and helps prevent illnesses, like heart problems, lung disorders and arthritis.
Parasite and Disease Prevention
Many of the serious illnesses that fleas, ticks, heartworms, viruses, bacteria and other organisms cause are preventable with vaccines and treatments that come in the form of topical applications or pills. Some treatments, like the rabies vaccine, are ones that only vets can administer. Others, like topical drops that protect against fleas and ticks, are treatments that you can apply at home.
A veterinarian generally administers vaccinations during a Pet’s annual wellness checkup. Younger Pets might need to return to the clinic within a few months for booster shots.
Neutering or Spaying
Overcrowding because of a lack of spaying and neutering Pets is the greatest problem that shelters face. Unless you plan to breed your Pet, it is a good idea to have it spayed or neutered. The treatment prevents unwanted pregnancies in females. In male cats and dogs, it reduces unwanted behaviors, such as territory marking, aggression and roaming.
Dogs and cats benefit from daily teeth brushing using special toothbrushes and toothpaste available at pet supply stores. Regular brushing prevents gingivitis and tartar buildup, which can lead to periodontal disease and gum infections. Advanced periodontal disease can affect a Pet’s heart, kidneys and liver. If brushing your Pet’s teeth with a toothbrush is difficult, the vet can recommend treats and toys that mimic the beneficial brushing action.
Dogs and cats also need annual professional teeth cleaning, a service that most veterinary clinics provide.
Brush your dog or cat’s fur daily to prevent hot spots, matted fur and rashes. The action help you bond with your Pet, minimizes shedding and gives you the opportunity to inspect for ticks, fleas and skin problems. Regularly brushing a cat’s fur also reduces the frequency of hairballs.
As a dog nails or cat’s claws grow, carefully trim them to prevent painful splitting or catching. If you are not sure how to complete this task without avoiding the quick, the fleshy part within the nail, schedule an appointment with a groomer.
Your Pet hates feeling sick as much as you do, but they often hide the early symptoms well. During a wellness checkup, a veterinarian examines every inch of your pet to look for signs of a disease. The professional may also draw blood and test your Pet’s urine to look for diseases that are difficult to spot during a physical exam. Most pets benefit from an annual exam, but a vet might recommend scheduling more than one checkup per year for older Pets.
The cost of preventive care for Pets is negligible when you compare it to the cost of veterinary care for advanced diseases. Proactive care for your Pet also brings invaluable peace of mind and a longer future together. If you can’t remember the last time that your Pet saw the vet for a checkup, now is a good time to schedule an appointment.