All dedicated owners want their pets to live long, healthy and happy lives. There are many conflicting recommendations about how to achieve this goal however, which is why unbiased, scientifically proven veterinary advice is so valuable. The Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital’s Community Practice Service recommends that owners focus, at least initially, on three basic issues:
1. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Obesity is one of the top health problems facing our pets today. Overweight animals have a lower quality of life and are at greater than average risk for many diseases including osteoarthritis, diabetes mellitus, heart disease, and skin problems.
Throughout your pet’s life, feed a well-balanced, nutritionally complete pet food and only offer the amount necessary to maintain a lean body condition. Limit treats, table scraps, and any other “extras” to only 10% of your pet’s total caloric intake, and make sure you subtract these calories from his normal, daily ration. Adequate exercise will also help maintain a healthy body and prevent boredom. If your pet needs to lose a significant amount of weight, talk to your veterinarian about the healthiest way for him to do so.
2. Dental Care
The effects of dental disease are not limited to the mouth. Yes, oral pain, bad breath, gingivitis, and periodontal disease are import considerations, but as dental disease progresses, it can lead to health problems throughout the body. Pets may be reluctant to eat, and bacteria from the mouth can travel through the bloodstream and infect the kidneys, liver, heart, and other organs with potentially life-threatening consequences.
Maintaining a pet’s teeth should be a part of the daily routine. Dental care can consist of some or all of the following:
- Brushing a pet’s teeth at least every other day.
- If tooth brushing is impossible or impractical, use the oral rinses, wipes, drinking water additives, or foods and treats designed to prevent plaque and tartar build up.
- Good home care does not eliminate the need for regularly scheduled dental cleanings performed by a veterinarian.
3. Basic Safety
Prevent injuries by keeping pets safe. Walk your dog on a leash, make sure your fences and gates are adequate and well-maintained, and keep cats inside unless they have access to a secure, outdoor enclosure. If you ever have to take a non-leash trained pet out of the home, only do so in an appropriate cat or dog carrier, and make sure pets ride in a car or truck’s passenger compartment with you.
Paying attention to these three simple aspects of pet care can go a long way toward keeping beloved companions safe, happy, and healthy.
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