April is a month that celebrates many pet-related topics: National Heartworm Awareness Month, National Pet First Aid Awareness Month, and National Pet Day, to name a few. This month we are going to discuss something different than the usual April topics; we are going to talk about ways that you can support your pet in the best way possible to ensure a long happy life with them.
Provide an environment where your pet feels safe, loved and comfortable. Pets are a lot like human kids; they need their physical needs addressed which include physical comfort (a bed, kennel, etc), adequate and appropriate food and water, and a safe place to live (be that indoors or out). The physical needs are the easy part; just be sure to consider from your pet’s perspective and not just yours. For instance, you may not need to give them a king bed or a spot on the couch but they do deserve a comfortable place to sleep that is more than a spot on the floor.
A more challenging component of your pet’s wellbeing is their emotional needs. Animals, just like humans, want to feel safe, happy and loved. Get to know your pet and figure out what types of toys and attention they like. Provide a consistent environment where they know what is expected of them and how to behave. This means patience, training and effort. When pets understand your expectations, they will be more confident, relaxed and happy. If they are behaving in a way that is disappointing to you and makes you angry, they will feel it and in turn feel anxious, stressed and unhappy. How would you like it if every time you got on the couch you got yelled at, but you were never taught that it was inappropriate? Don’t get me wrong, my dogs get on my couch and in my bed but only when they ask and only when it is appropriate; my visiting mother does not always appreciate a Rottweiler jumping into her lap. Determine what behavior is acceptable in your family and work together to create that environment. And believe it or not, this also applies to cats 😉.
Pets need appropriate and preventative care just like humans do. Puppies and kittens need vaccines, deworming, and routine checkups to make sure they are growing appropriately. Depending on where you and your pet live, you need to be aware of potential internal and external parasites in the environment or potential diseases threats. These may include fleas, ticks, roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, giardia, leptospirosis, rabies, distemper, adenovirus, Lyme disease, heartworm disease, influenza, kennel cough, and a variety of others. This is where vaccines and preventative medications come into play. Many of these diseases and parasites can be prevented with routine vaccinations or treated with medications. In some cases, these diseases and parasites can also affect humans so not only are you protecting your pet, but you are also protecting yourself and your family.
Routine doctor visits and dental care are another component of care that is incredibly important for your pet and will definitely improve the quality and length of their lifespan. Routine exams may find physical problems, tumors, and conditions at an early stage when you may have more, and better, treatment options. Just as you go to the dentist for routine cleanings, your pet needs their teeth cleaned, polished and x-rayed and examined typically annually. Routine dental care is the best way to prevent infection, pain and tooth loss. Untreated dental disease can lead to more severe issues including heart disease.
The final component of your pet’s routine healthcare includes a variety of testing. Physical exams evaluate the outside of your pet; our veterinarians are amazing but they require some help get the complete picture. This means testing blood, urine and feces to determine what is going on inside your pet. Depending on the life stage of your pet, x-rays or ultrasound may also be recommended to get a visual of those internal organs.
I realize this may be a bit overwhelming. But think about all the tested recommended for humans: colonoscopy, blood testing, mammograms, prostate checks, dental care every 6 months, annual vaccines and exams, etc. In reality, what your doctor recommends for you is not very different from what your veterinarian recommends for your pet. The end goal of these recommendations is to make sure your pet is as healthy as possible for a long as possible. Unfortunately, pets do not have the lifespan that we humans do so it is up to us to give them the best shot for a long, quality life. To show how much preventative care means to us at Alpine Animal Hospital we have put together some Wellness Care Plans that will provide all the care we recommend in a way that will spread out the cost and help it be affordable. Please visit our website to learn more and to determine if it fits into you and your pets’ lives: https://alpinehospital.com/wellness-plan/ .