At Bullard Animal Hospital, we understand that your pet is important to you and that you want to ensure their health and happiness throughout their lifetime. With this in mind, our Austell vets share a few tips on how to create a healthy environment and lifestyle for your four-legged friend.
A Happy, Healthy Pet
Caring for our beloved cat or dog can help to lower our blood pressure, improve our mood, and provide companionship – but how can you help to ensure that your pet receives the best possible care in return? Our Austell veterinarians share some tips for giving your pet a happy, healthy life:
Create A Special Place For Your Animal To Relax
We all need a place that is safe and comfortable to relax, and this includes our animal companions. Providing an area that has been created especially for your animal can be a fun project for you and give your pet a feeling of calm security. Most pets appreciate a space of their own, away from the hustle and bustle of busy children and/or other pets.
Any cat owner can tell you that cats often like a place to hide (or at least seem hidden). 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 be sure that your cat can easily access their safe space whenever they want to get away.
Creating a special spot for your dog will largely depend upon the size of your pet. 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. Your dog is sure to provide you with clues on rooms they particularly like to relax in and what their favorite piece of furniture is.
Provide Optimal Nutrition
Meeting all of your pet's nutritional needs is critical to a strong body and immune system. To establish and maintain great health, your dog or cat requires a diet that provides all the right nutrients based on their age, breed, and stature. Each meal should also be measured so that your pet receives just the right number of calories to support a healthy lifestyle.
Deciding what to feed your pet, as well as how much and how often can be overwhelming. 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.
Daily Exercise For Cats & Dogs
A tired dog is a happy dog! Taking long walks with your dog every day (no matter the weather) can help to promote physical fitness for both you and your pet, and helps to keep your dog's brain active. From puppyhood, 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 can also help to build a strong and loving bond between the two of you. 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 - and of course - check with your doctor before starting any new exercise plan.
Don't forget that cats need exercise too, especially indoor cats. Take the time to play with your feline friend every day to ensure that their body and mind stay active. Chasing a pretend mouse that is moved around by you, or even the dot of a laser pointer aimed at the floor (never aim a laser pointer at your cat), 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.
Help Your Pet Achieve & Maintain a Healthy Weight
Your dog or cat will feel their best if their weight is at an ideal for their breed, age, and build. Obese pets have an increased risk of developing serious conditions like diabetes, heart disease. and painful joint issues. By feeding your pet the right food and ensuring they get adequate exercise, 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.
Annual Dental Care For Your Pet
Your pet's oral health strongly affects their overall health. If your dog or cat has gum disease or decayed or broken teeth they will likely be feeling a great deal of discomfort, but 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 prevent more severe conditions that could be costly to treat.
Keep Your Pet Away From Toxins
There are a number of foods and medications that humans can consume that can be extremely toxic to 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, some essential oils, bleach and toilet cleaning pucks. It's important to note that there are many many more foods, and household items that can be toxic for your dog. Be sure to pet-proof your home every time you put away your groceries in order to avoid tragic accidents.
For the most part, cats are less likely to eat things they shouldn't – but there are some foods you should keep well out of your cat's reach like chocolate, raisins, onions, garlic and alcohol. Do not feed your cat dog food and never ever give your cat human medications without consulting your veterinarian. It is also important to note that many common household and garden plants are toxic to cats. Although older cats tend to be wise enough to avoid plants that could make them ill, kittens may be attracted to fluttering leaves and stems. Be sure to do your research before adding a new plant to your home or garden.
Keep Your Pet's Vaccines & Parasite Prevention Up To Date
Maintaining up-to-date vaccinations for your pet, and administering appropriate parasite prevention medications when needed, can help to protect your dog or cat against a range of highly contagious and serious 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. For example, a hunting dog that spends a great deal of time in tall grass and water will have very different requirements to an indoor cat who calls a New York apartment their home. Ask your vet which vaccines and parasite medications are right for your pet.
It's important to note that in many states it is mandatory for all dogs and cats over 6 months of age 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.
Yearly Preventive Care For Your Pet's Wellbeing
Your vet is dedicated to keeping your pet healthy. By bringing your dog or cat in for physical checkups (wellness exams) your vet is able to take care of those essential vaccines, 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 begin when it is most effective, these checkups also allow your vet to provide elderly pets with proactive treatments that can help your pet feel more comfortable as they continue to age.
The Bottom Line
Caring for a pet is a big responsibility but the 8 easy tips above can help you to form a strong emotional bond with your pet, and provide them with their best shot at a long, happy and healthy life.
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.