At Hope Advanced Veterinary Center we know you love your pet and want to do all you can to make sure their life with you is as happy and long as possible. Today our Vienna vets share a few tips on how to create a healthy environment and lifestyle for your four-legged friend.
Keeping Your Pet Happy & Healthy
Owning and caring for a pet we love helps to lower our blood pressure and improve our overall mood, but how can you help to ensure that your pet receives the best possible care in return? Simply follow the easy steps below:
1 - Create a Special Place for Your Animal to Relax
We all need a safe and comfy place to relax, and your pet is no different. Providing an area that has been created especially for your animal can be fun for you and give your pet a feeling of calm security. Most pets appreciate a space of their own, away from the hustle and bustle of busy children and/or other pets.
Cats often like a place to hide. Many cat towers include little hiding spots but simply putting a comfy blanket or towel into a cardboard box can help to create an ideal space for your cat to relax. Just be sure that your cat can get to their safe space whenever they want to get away.
Creating a special spot for your dog will largely depend upon the size of your pet. Some dogs may enjoy the solitude of a bed tucked into the corner of a small room such as a laundry room, while others like to relax in their own crate. Your dog is sure to provide you with clues on rooms they particularly like to relax in and what their favorite piece of furniture is.
2 - Provide Optimal Nutrition
Meeting all of your pet's nutritional needs is essential for building a strong body and immune system. To establish and maintain great health, your dog or cat will need a diet that provides all the right nutrients based on their age, breed, and stature. Each meal should also be measured so that your pet receives just the right number of calories to support a healthy lifestyle.
Deciding what to feed your pet, as well as how much and how often can be overwhelming. No one understands your four-legged friend's nutritional requirements better than your vet. Speak to your veterinarian about the best food for your animal companion, and ask them to calculate the perfect portion size to suit your pet's needs.
3 - Daily Exercise to Improve the Health of Dogs & Cats
A tired dog is a happy dog. Taking long walks with your dog every day (rain or shine) helps to promote physical fitness for both you and your pet, and helps to keep your dog's brain active. From a young age, regularly encountering new people, pets, noises and smells while safely by your side can help to give your dog a sense of contentment. Long walks together will also help to build a strong and loving bond between the two of you, and may even help to improve your fitness level too. For most breeds a good starting point is 2 thirty-minute walks a day but be sure to check with your vet to find out what the correct level of exercise is for your pet - and of course - check with your doctor before starting any new exercise plan.
Cats need exercise too, especially indoor cats. Take the time to play with your feline friend every day to ensure that their body and mind stay active. Chasing a pretend mouse that is moved around by you, or even the dot of a laser pointer aimed at the floor (never aim a laser pointer at your cat), can be great fun for your kitty. If you spend most days out of the house, providing your cat with a cat tower or a treat-filled cat puzzle toy can help to keep your kitty amused and happy throughout the day.
4 - Help Your Pet Achieve & Maintain a Healthy Weight
Your dog or cat will feel their best if they maintain a healthy weight for their breed, age, and build. Obesity in pets leads to an increased risk of some very serious conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and painful joint issues. By closely following steps 1 and 2 throughout your pet's lifetime you should easily be able to keep your pet at a healthy weight. Not sure if your pet is at a healthy weight? Speak to your vet, or breeder, to find out how much your pet should weigh, and how to help your dog or cat achieve their ideal weight.
5 - Make Annual Dental Exams a Must
Your pet's oral health strongly affects their overall health. If your dog or cat has gum disease or decayed or broken teeth they will likely be feeling a great deal of discomfort, but these conditions could also negatively impact their overall health resulting in conditions such as heart disease. Help your animal companion to maintain good oral health by taking them for regular dental cleanings and exams. Routine dental care can help to prevent more severe conditions that could be costly to treat.
6 - Keep Toxins Out of Your Pet's Reach
A number of foods and medications that are fine for humans can be extremely toxic to pets. A few common foods, medications and household items that are poisonous to dogs are; chocolate, raisins, any foods or drinks containing the artificial sweetener xylitol, NSAIDs including Ibuprofen and Naproxen, fabric softener sheets, some essential oils, bleach and toilet cleaning pucks. It's important to note that there are many many more foods, and household items that can be toxic for your dog. Be sure to pet-proof your home every time you put away your groceries in order to avoid tragic accidents.
Cats are generally less likely to eat inedible object, but conscienscious cat owners should still keep foods like chocolate, raisins, onions, garlic, and other foods. Do not feed your cat dog food and never ever give your cat human medications without consulting your veterinarian. It is also important to note that many common household and garden plants are toxic to cats. Although older cats tend to be wise enough to avoid plants that could make them ill, kittens may be attracted to fluttering leaves and stems. Be sure to do your research before adding a new plant to your home or garden.
7 - Keep Your Pet's Vaccines & Parasite Prevention Up To Date
Maintaining up-to-date vaccinations and parasite protection for your pet can help to protect your dog or cat against a range of highly contagious and serious conditions that can negatively impact your animal's long-term health and longevity. Your pet's vaccination and parasite prevention requirements will be based on their lifestyle. For example, a hunting dog that spends a great deal of time in tall grass and water will have very different requirements to an indoor cat who calls a New York apartment their home. Ask your vet which vaccines and parasite medications are right for your pet.
It's important to note that in many states it is mandatory for all dogs and cats over 6 months of age to have up-to-date rabies vaccines. Do not skip your cat's annual vaccines just because they stay indoors. Speak to your vet for details on which vaccines and parasite prevention products are right for your feline homebody.
8 - Make Regular Pet Checkups Part Of Annual Preventive Care
Your vet is dedicated to keeping your pet healthy. By bringing your dog or cat in for physical checkups your vet is able to take care of those essential vaccines, provide advice on nutrition, monitor your pet's weight, and watch for any developing health concerns. Most healthy middle-aged pets should be seen about once a year, but if your animal has an underlying health problem, is very young or elderly, your vet may recommend checkups every 6 months or more. Spotting the earliest signs of developing conditions allows for treatment to begin when it is most effective, these checkups also allow your vet to provide elderly pets with proactive treatments that can help your pet feel more comfortable as they continue to age.
Caring for a pet is a big responsibility but the 8 easy tips above can help you to form a strong emotional bond with your pet, and provide them with their best shot at a long, happy and healthy life.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.