As a pet owner, you want your cat or dog to live a long, healthy life, so they can enjoy more years by your side. Nothing is better for ensuring your four-legged friend’s health and happiness than regular preventive care. Through preventive care, you can help keep your pet in tip-top shape, and stave off illness and disease. Follow these five tips to add years to your pet’s life.

#1: Help your pet maintain a healthy weight

More than half the U.S. pet population is overweight or obese, and this problem continues to grow. Pets who are carrying extra weight are more prone to developing a variety of health conditions, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Some cancers

To determine how much your pet should weigh, evaluate their body condition. Depending on where they fall on the score chart, they may need to lose or gain weight. Ask your Gentle Touch Animal Hospital veterinarian for help determining your pet’s body condition, and how much they should weigh. We can also assist you in calculating how much food your pet needs to eat per day, and devise a safe weight loss plan, if necessary.

#2: Implement an at-home dental care plan for your pet immediately

Almost all pets—up to 90%—develop some form of dental disease in a few short years, making an at-home dental care plan incredibly important. Without daily toothbrushing, dental chews and treats, or water and food additives, plaque and tartar can accumulate rapidly, causing painful dental disease. When choosing your pet’s oral health products, search for the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC)’s seal of acceptance, because products bearing this seal have been proven to slow plaque and tartar accumulation, making them the most effective at preventing dental disease. Although these at-home methods cannot reach below the gum line to eradicate oral bacteria, they are a vital part of an overall dental care plan. 

In addition to implementing an at-home dental care plan, schedule regular oral exams to determine when your pet requires a professional dental cleaning. During your pet’s dental cleaning, our team will take full-mouth dental X-rays to spot hidden issues, like fractured teeth, tooth-root abscesses, retained teeth, or jawbone weakening. When you pair at-home care with veterinary dental care, you can help prevent oral bacteria from attacking your pet’s mouth, heart, and kidneys.

#3: Exercise every day with your pet

With so many overweight pets nationwide, daily exercise, combined with a healthy, properly portioned diet, is a must. Change up your daily routine with a rotating activity list for your pet. Take a walk in a new neighborhood, choose a different interactive toy, or play a novel game. 

If your pet is overweight, older, or suffering from a chronic condition that makes exercise difficult, opt for low-impact activities, like leisurely walks and swimming. Your pet’s speed does not matter, as long as they’re moving.

#4: Keep your pet’s mind sharp with environmental enrichment

While your pet’s physical body needs plenty of exercise to remain healthy, so does their mind. Engaging in daily enrichment activities can ward off boredom and problem behaviors and, as your pet ages, cognitive dysfunction. Enrichment activities include anything that encourages your pet to think. Try these ideas:

  • Feeding them from a treat puzzle
  • Playing hide-and-seek
  • Teaching new tricks
  • Signing up for a training class
  • Entering a sporting event

For dogs, sniffing is extremely rewarding, and provides a great deal of enrichment. Hiking with your dog in new locations, or participating in scentwork, are ideal enrichment activities.

Engaging cats in activities can be more challenging, so keep in mind that they have much shorter attention spans. Stick to prey-and-predator games for maximum participation. A plush toy, feather wand, or chirping toy will entice your cat to stalk and pounce on their prey, fulfilling their natural need to hunt.

#5: Schedule regular wellness exams with our veterinarian

The best way to add years to your pet’s life is by protecting them from potentially fatal diseases, and monitoring their health throughout their lifetime. Regular wellness care, which provides a multitude of health benefits for your pet, includes:

Regular preventive care not only helps keep your pet safe from infectious disease, but can also detect health issues before they become serious problems. 

Keep your pet in great shape and ensure their health and happiness for years to come by staying on top of their preventive care. Contact our Gentle Touch Animal Hospital team to schedule your furry pal’s wellness appointment.