Our Milledgeville vet team knows you love your pet and want to do all you can to make sure their health and happiness are cared for. Read on for 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 Space For Your Pet To Relax
Like humans, your pet needs a safe, comfortable space to relax and call their own. If you provide 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 will appreciate a space of their own, somewhere away from the mild chaos of busy children and/or other pets.
Most cats enjoy having at least a few places to hide and relax; as part of their nature, they are ambush hunters and like being able to watch the world go by in peace. 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 make sure your feline friend can get to their safe space whenever they want to!
The size of your dog will largely affect how best to create a special area for them. 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. Others will prefer having a bed or dog pillow in your home office, where they can nap while keeping you company. Your day-to-day interactions with your dog are sure to provide you with clues to rooms and pieces of furniture that are their favorites.
2. Feed Them A Nutritious Diet
Fulfilling your pet's nutritional needs is essential for developing and maintaining a strong body and immune system. To achieve this, your dog or cat will need a diet that provides the right nutrients based on the animal's age, breed, and stature (size and weight). Each meal should be measured so that your pet receives the right number of calories and nutrients to support a healthy lifestyle.
Deciding what, how much, and how often to feed your pet can seem overwhelming, rest assured that 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 Your Pet's Health
A dog tired from a long, fun walk is a happy dog. Taking long walks with your dog every day (rain, snow or shine) helps to encourage the maintenance of both your and your pet's physical wellness, and helps to keep your dog's brain active. Starting as a young puppy, 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, which is as important as physical fitness to your dog's overall wellness. 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.
Many forget that cats need exercise too, since they can seem like sedentary pets who enjoy napping and eating for the most part. Indoor cats especially need the benefit of daily exercise through play and exploration. Take the time to play with your feline friend every day to ensure that their body and mind stay active. Chasing a pretend mouse or cat-safe ribbon toy that is moved around by you 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 – but make sure you give them plenty of love and attention when you get home!
4. Help Your Pet Maintain A Healthy Weight
Your pet can avoid issues like joint pain, and medical conditions like diabetes and heart disease that can affect their lifespan and quality of living, by maintaining a healthy weight. The ideal weight for your cat or dog will vary based on the weight of their breed, age, and build. By closely following steps 2 and 3 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. Take Care Of Your Pet's Dental Health, Too
Your pet's oral health has a huge impact on their overall health. If your dog or cat has gum disease or decayed, missing/loose, or damaged teeth they will likely be feeling a great deal of discomfort. Aside from the pain that your animal companion may be feeling, 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 stop the development of more severe conditions that could be costly and difficult to treat.
6. Keep Toxic Substances Away From Your Pet
Some pet owners might be surprised to find that a number of their own favorite foods or trusted medications are extremely toxic to their beloved 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; certain essential oils; bleach; and toilet cleaning pucks. It's important to note that there are many more foods and household items that can be toxic to your dog, so be sure to pet-proof your home every time you put away your groceries in order to avoid tragic accidents.
Cats are typically less likely to eat things they shouldn't, but there are some foods and other human consumables that you should keep well out of your cat's reach including chocolate; raisins; onions; garlic; and alcohol. Do not feed dog food to your cat, and never ever give your cat human medications without your veterinarian's explicit go-ahead. It is also important to note that many common household and garden plants are toxic to cats, who can be fans of eating grass and other greenery. Although older cats tend to be wise enough to avoid plants that could make them ill, kittens, adolescent cats, or even naturally curious adult cats 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. Make Sure Your Pet's Vaccines & Parasite Protection Are Up-To-Date
Maintaining updated vaccinations for your pet and administering appropriate parasite prevention medications when needed can help to protect your pet against a range of highly infectious and potentially severe 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. A hunting dog that usually spends lots of time outdoors in tall grass and water will have different requirements from an indoor cat that lives in a city apartment. Ask your vet what vaccines and parasite preventive products are right for your pet.
It's important to note that in many states it is mandatory for all dogs and cats over the age of 6 months 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 Sure Your Pet Attends Their Checkups
Your vet is dedicated to keeping your pet healthy, and when you bring your dog or cat in for physical checkups (wellness exams) your vet is able to make sure your pet's vaccines are up-to-date, 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 start when it is most effective, and these checkups also allow your vet to provide geriatric pets with proactive treatments that can help your pet live out their golden years in more comfort.
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.