Taking care of a pet has a lot of things to think about and consider. It can be difficult to know what’s most important! Aside from enjoying your new family member, that is.
We asked our veterinary adviser, Dr. Bruce Little, what he wants all pet owners to know. Here’s what he said:
All pets need an annual examination by a licensed veterinarian. Many times, people notice their pets doing something but don’t recognize that it indicates a medical condition. For instance, a dog scooting on its butt is a sign of something wrong with the dog. It can be caused by impacted anal glands, irritated rectum, internal parasites, ticks, fleas, or any number of conditions that may not be recognized by the owner. A veterinarian will be able to identify the problem and take steps to solve it. Click here to find a local vet.
Preventive health care is extremely valuable. It’s crucial to identify diseases or conditions before they become difficult to treat or advanced to where they aren’t treatable at all. It’s always best to try and prevent diseases and conditions, rather than treat them after they arise. Both dogs and cats are capable of hiding their pain, partly as a deterrent to predators, so by the time a pet owner recognizes the pain, the condition might be quite advanced. As dogs age, for example, they may develop arthritic joints and have a continuous low level of pain. This pain may cause them to walk with an unusual gait, therefore placing more stress on other limbs. Other conditions such as early stage tumors are best identified and treated as early as possible.
Have realistic expectations about the care and treatment of your pets. Sadly, some diseases and conditions are impossible to cure. In some cases, it’s best to give your pets medications to control pain and accept the fact that all diseases and conditions are not treatable. It’s a fact that dogs and cats age faster than humans, so realize that your pet may need special care and treatment as it gets older.
Listen closely to post-treatment instructions. In many cases, your veterinarian will prescribe your pet medications to take at home. Compliance with medication instructions is important. It can be difficult to give pets medications at home. However, it may be necessary to not only treat some conditions, but also to save the pet’s life. Animal hospital staff have practiced various techniques to give medications to pets, so ask them if you have any difficulties or reservations. They are always willing to share those techniques with pet owners.
Know when your pet is too thin, just right, overweight, or obese. Research shows that 59 percent of all of America’s cats are overweight and 28 percent of them are obese. The same research indicates that 54 percent of all dogs are overweight and 17 percent are obese. This weight problem has become a crisis in our pet population and is seldom recognized or acknowledged by pet owners. Owners should educate themselves on the proper weight for their pets, and if needed, put a plan in place to lower their pet’s weight with proper nutrition and exercise. Reference the charts below to help you determine if your pet is overweight.
Following your veterinarian’s advice and instructions will help you and your pet have a long, healthy life together! Visit Veterinarians.com to find a vet near you.