Clinic Stories

Keeping Your Pet Healthy

Dogs and cats in the prime of life, from one to seven years old are generally in good health. There are several things that can be done to maintain their health and to prevent problems later in life.

  1. Good nutrition and clean water – Nothing is more important to your pet's health than food and water. Feed a good quality food, provide fresh clean water, and wash food and water bowls regularly, preferably daily. Pets should have a designated feeding area where they can eat without being intimidated or threatened. Meal feeding is generally better than free choice feeding.
  2. Maintaining a schedule – pets, like people, thrive on a schedule. A well regulated schedule of feeding, walking, exercise and sleeping is ideal. Pets should also have a designated eating and sleeping area.
  3. Social needs – Pets are social creatures and need interaction and stimulation. The ability to walk around and look out of a window is as important as avoiding stress. To reduce stress pets should have a safe, comfortable and private area, particularly for sleeping and eating. Cats can be provided with a climbing tower and scratching post. Toy of all types are a good bet for both dogs and cats.
  4. Exercise – Dogs should have daily exercise by walking, allowing access to a yard, or by playing fetch or frisbee. Exercise for indoor cats is also important and can be accomplished by chasing a laser pointer, using a feather toy or a ball with treats or food inside.
  5. Skin, ear and coat care – Pets should be brushed regularly, bathed as needed, have their nails trimmed as needed, and have their coats clipped if appropriate. Mats should be removed as soon as they are found. In some cases dogs may have to have the hair plucked from inside of their ears. Some breeds such as Bulldogs need regular care for skin folds. Overweight cats may not be able reach their to their back end to groom and may need to be cleaned or brushed. A pet's ears should be examined at least once a week for any signs of odor, infection, excess wax build up or other problems.
  6. Behavior training – Dogs should know basic commands – come, sit, lie, stay, paw - and should be reviewed every day and all family members should participate. This reinforces the dominance standing of the dog owner. Cats do not need regular behavioral training but a water pistol may be used to train them not to engage in certain behaviors such as walking on tables or counters.
  7. Weight Management – Daily food intake should be measured and regulated based on size, age and activity level. Our staff can give you guidelines on the amount to feed. Treats and table food should be limited to 10% of the daily food intake. Daily exercise is improtant in weight management, but nothing is more important than prevention by portion control.
  8. Dental care – You should examine your pet's teeth at least once a month for tartar build up and odor. Ongoing dental care can include brushing, tooth or gum applications, water treatments and/or dental treats. The need for dental scaling and polishing will be determined during regular office visits.
  9. Ear cleaning – In dogs, the ears should be examined at home monthly. If discharge is present, clean the ears. If the discharge returns within a week, or if there is an odor, redness or pain, make an appointment to have the ears checked.
  10. Allergies – Many dogs and some cats have allergies, either to food or to allergens in the environment. Signs may include vomiting, diarrhea, itching, licking the paws, skin rash, hair loss or scooting. Allergies may need to be managed by food changes, avoidance of allergens or medications. Let our staff know if you suspect your pat has allergies.
  11. Annual exams – Pets should be examined every year by your veterinarian and should receive appropriate vaccinations based on their level of disease exposure.
  12. Heartworm prevention – Dogs and outdoor cats should be given pills monthly to prevent heartworm disease as well as other internal parasites.
  13. Flea and tick treatments – Dogs and outdoor cats should have a monthly treatment to prevent flea and tick infestations through the Spring, Summer and Fall.
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