An ounce of prevention can be worth a pound of cure – and sometimes, the same amount of cash! I get asked all the time about the best ways to keep pets healthy, so without further ado, here are my top tips for preventing costly illnesses.
1. Be sure your pets are spayed or neutered. Of course, this prevents unwanted litters of puppies and kittens, but this easy fix also prevents testicular cancers and greatly reduces the risk of prostate and breast cancers. Spaying and neutering can also curb some behavior problems.
2. Vaccinate! Making sure your pets are up to date on their recommended vaccines can save your pet’s life. Viruses like rabies and parvovirus are dangerous and deadly, but they are also easily prevented with vaccination.
3. Keep up with your pet’s dental hygiene. You and I brush our teeth twice a day, keeping our pearly whites at their best. You may think, what’s a little tartar? But periodontal disease can not only cause infection, bone loss and painful abscesses in the mouth, but a host of whole-body issues, including serious forms of kidney, heart and liver disease, that have been linked to bacteria entering the bloodstream from a dental infection. Brush your pet’s teeth at least three times a week to prevent periodontal disease.
4. Prevent obesity. Extra pounds contribute other diseases, such as osteoarthritis and diabetes. Not to mention it can make recovery from illness or surgical procedures longer, and put more strain on pets’ cardiovascular and respiratory systems. The good news is, obesity is 100% preventable! Just feed your pet the appropriate portions of a complete and balanced diet, and make sure they get plenty of exercise. While pet insurance can help manage the costs of obesity-related conditions, your pet's health - and your budget - are better off staying trim!
5. Keep up with your pet’s grooming. Matted hair not only cause your pet discomfort, it can contribute to skin infections. Long haired dogs and cats need brushing often (particularly cats, to avoid hairballs) and will benefit from an occasional clipping. Thorough grooming also includes ear cleaning and anal gland expression, to keep those kinds of infections at bay, as well.
6. Remember to keep up with monthly parasite control all year round, including cooler months. This includes external parasites, like fleas and ticks, which spread debilitating diseases, as well as internal parasites, like roundworms, hookworms and heartworms, which can be fatal.
7. Most importantly, schedule and keep annual exams (semi-annual exams if your pet is considered a senior pet). These appointments allow your veterinarian to assess your pet’s health and address concerns and potential problems before you get behind the eight ball.