Every January, most of us do a little “mental review.” Whether we make detailed resolutions or take a more casual approach, the New Year is a good time to contemplate making some changes. Many times, what we want to improve is our health, with the goal being to live long and happy lives. We want the same for our beloved animal companions, so now is also a great time to reflect on things we can do to ensure they’re with us for as long as possible. Here then, are 10 tips for a lifetime of good health for pets.
Know Your Pet Well – Every animal is an individual, and what’s “normal” for one dog or cat may not be normal for yours. However, you can pay close enough attention to your own pet to find out what’s normal for them. Doing so will enable you to quickly tell when something is a little off with your pet, and get them immediate veterinary attention. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” as the saying goes.
Perform Regular Health Checks – At least once a month (once a week is better), give your pet’s body a thorough inspection. Do a massage while checking their skin, ears, eyes, nails, paw pads, mouth, teeth and gums for anything unusual. If you find any lumps, scabs, redness, irritation, hair loss, discharge or other signs of trouble, be sure to call your vet right away. Remember, it’s easier to treat potential health problems early as opposed to waiting until they become bigger issues.
Feed a High Quality Pet Food – Fueling their body with nutritionally sound food is one of the most important things we can do to keep our pets healthy. Animals cannot read nutrition labels, so they depend on us to bring home food that not only tastes good to them but provides everything they need to stay healthy. CANIDAE makes a wide variety of premium pet food for dogs and cats of all ages, so you’re sure to find one that fits the needs of your animal companion.
Feed the Right Amount – When Goldilocks went into the home of the three bears, she sampled each of their porridges, chairs and beds to find the one that was “just right” for her. As responsible pet owners, we also need to find the “just right” amount to feed our dog or cat based on their age, size, breed, activity level and weight. It can be tricky to find the right amount of food that keeps our pets at their optimum weight, but it’s vital to their health and longevity.
Know Which “People” Foods to Avoid – We’ve covered this topic before, because knowing which foods are dangerous for our pets to eat is really important and might even save their life. The list includes alcoholic beverages, avocados, chocolate, coffee, cooked bones, fatty foods, garlic, grapes, macadamia nuts, onions, raisins, salt, walnuts, xylitol and yeast dough. For more information, read Human Food That’s Deadly for Pets.
Know Which Plants to Avoid– Did you know there are 700+ plants that are toxic to our beloved pets? Knowing which plants in your home and yard are safe for your pets and which ones could cause illness and even death will guard against accidental poisoning. See Plants Pets Should Not Eat for more details.
Pet Proofing Saves Lives – It’s important to be aware of things in your home, garage and yard that may pose a danger to your pet. Do a walk-through of any area where your pet has access to, but try to see things from their point of view rather than yours; what may look harmless to a human could well be enticing (and possibly life threatening) for a pet. Be sure to keep all medicines, household cleaners, automotive fluids, batteries, sharp garden tools and pesticides etc. stored safely out of reach.
Spay or Neuter – Aside from preventing unplanned pregnancies, spaying and neutering provides several health benefits for pets. Spaying a female helps prevent breast cancer and infection of the uterus, and stops her from going into heat. Neutering a male can curb aggressive behavior as well as prevent testicular cancer, prostate disease and hernias.
Get a Move On – Doctors constantly remind us that getting regular exercise is vital to a lifetime of good health. Naturally, the same is true for our animal companions. While exercising your pet may at times seem like a burden – especially mid-winter when it’s freezing and snowy outside – it’s what you signed up for when you decided to adopt them. Regular, daily exercise will keep your pet physically fit and mentally healthy, as well as help to prevent weight gain and reduce aggressive or destructive behaviors.
Nurture Your Pet – Tending to your pet’s emotional wellbeing is just as important as caring for their physical body, perhaps even more so. It’s been said that love has the power to heal like nothing else, and I’m inclined to believe it. Love can work miracles. At the very least, nurturing your pet will make them happy. And a happy pet is a healthy pet!
Top photo by carterse
Middle photo by Corey Barnes
Bottom photo by PJ Johnson
Read more articles by Julia Williams