By Susan Paretts
Part of being a good pet owner is making sure your furry friend stays healthy. Regular checkups, daily grooming, exercise, and a proper diet will help ensure that your pet looks and feels good. These health-promoting strategies may even extend your pet’s life, ensuring you have years of good times together.
Visit the Vet Regularly
Preventative care is an important part of keeping your pet healthy, allowing you to catch any health issues early. Ken Tudor, DVM of the Well Dog Place in Claremont, California and the Hearthstone Homemade website recommends that pets visit the vet twice a year. A thorough physical exam is especially important for large dogs and older pets who are more prone to health issues than smaller and younger ones.
Keep Your Pet Active
Pets need plenty of exercise to maintain their muscle tone and to prevent mobility issues. For dogs, Dr. Tudor recommends playing interactive games like fetch. Cats prefer to play with dangling toys on a string and laser cat toys several times a day for about 10 minutes at a time.
Not only will exercise keep your pets in good shape, it will allow you to spend time with them. According to Dr. Tudor, pets enjoy the social interaction with their owners. Remember to bring along some fresh water when you’re outdoors with your fur babies because pets can quickly become dehydrated, especially in warmer temperatures.
Groom Your Pet Often
Brush your pet’s coat daily to keep it matt-free and to help distribute the natural oils. The grooming time will also allow you to check for parasites and any strange lumps or bumps.
Jme Thomas, executive director of the Motley Zoo Animal Rescue in Seattle, Washington, recommends doing a sanitary groom often, especially if your pet has a longer coat. This involves trimming the hair around the hindquarters to prevent smelly, painful matts from developing due to urine and feces. Thomas says pets love being brushed with a rubber curry comb, such as the ConairPRO Dog™ Pet-It™ curry comb, which removes excess hair from the coat while giving a pleasant massage.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Obesity in pets can cause major health problems. Dr. Tudor warns that if your pet is overweight, the extra fat produces inflammatory hormones. “These hormones can lead to a variety of illnesses, including cancer, diabetes, arthritis, kidney disease, and liver disease. There is nothing cute about extra weight on pets,” he explains.
While exercise will help keep your pet in shape, a proper diet is most important for weight control. Your vet can recommend the correct amount of food to serve your dog or cat each day. Or, you can follow the feeding recommendations printed on the food package.
When it comes to giving your pet treats, opt for healthy options like cauliflower, blueberries, cranberries, carrots, green beans, broccoli, and air-popped popcorn, recommends Dr. Tudor. These treats are not only tasty for your pet, but very low in calories, too.
Clean Your Pet’s Teeth
Dental care is important for pets because, unlike humans, they can’t brush their own teeth. Keep your pet’s pearly whites shiny by regularly brushing them. Dr. Tudor recommends that even using a damp washcloth to wipe away plaque can keep the teeth in good shape if your pet won’t tolerate teeth-brushing.
In addition, you’ll want to check with your vet to see when your pet needs a dental cleaning. This procedure, which is performed under anesthesia, removes any hardened tartar from the teeth to prevent gingivitis.
Keeping your pet healthy is a full-time job, but spending the extra time together can also be fun. With regular trips to the vet and a little TLC from you, your pet will enjoy a happy and healthy life.