Veterinary medicine is always evolving, and technological advancements are helping pets live longer than ever before. Pets’ lives are never long enough for those who love them, and your precious time with your four-legged friend can go by in the blink of an eye. While your beloved pet can’t live forever—or as long as you would like—you can help add years to your furry pal’s life by taking charge of their physical and mental health. Follow our Central Houston Animal Hospital team’s guide to improving your pet’s longevity, and ensure your four-legged friend lives their longest, healthiest, and happiest life.
#1: Schedule regular pet wellness examinations
Regular wellness exams and preventive care are essential to keeping your pet healthy. During your pet’s annual wellness examinations, your veterinarian becomes familiar with their lifestyle, personality, and health history. Routine diagnostic screenings help your veterinarian detect early illness signs and address health issues before they progress. At your pet’s wellness exam, your veterinarian will perform a nose-to-tail assessment that may include:
- Examining your pet’s teeth, throat, and oral cavity
- Checking your pet’s vision and examining their eyes
- Examining your pet’s ears for infection, ear mites, allergic reactions, and other related health issues
- Examining your pet’s respiratory system
- Assessing your pet’s heart
- Testing your pet’s reflexes
- Palpitating your pet’s lymph nodes and abdomen
- Inspecting your pet’s skin for abnormalities
- Assessing your pet’s body condition and discussing their activity level and appetite
- Palpitating your pet’s joints and muscles for arthritis and other orthopedic conditions
- Screening your pet for intestinal parasites, heartworm disease, and tick-borne diseases
- Completing bloodwork to create a baseline should your pet become ill between wellness visits
#2: Keep your pet on year-round parasite prevention
Mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks are more than just bothersome—they can also be deadly. Fortunately, year-round parasite prevention and annual screening tests can protect your pet from these dangerous pests and the infectious diseases they spread. Veterinarian-prescribed parasite preventives are the best way to protect your pet from these life-altering conditions. To provide your pet with ultimate infectious disease protection, continue administering their preventives year-round, which can help avoid coverage gaps and inadvertently missed doses.
#3: Stay up-to-date on your pet’s vaccinations
Vaccines are an easy, cost-effective way to protect your pet from many dangerous and infectious diseases. Veterinary vaccines are divided into two categories—core and noncore—depending on their level of necessity. Puppies and kittens receive a series of core vaccinations beginning at 6 to 8 weeks of age, with boosters every three to four weeks until they are 16 weeks of age. Every one to three years, an adult pet should receive core vaccine boosters, which are necessary to stimulate your pet’s immune system to ensure effective disease recognition and response. Staying up-to-date on your pet’s vaccinations protects them from contracting infectious disease and increases their longevity.
#4: Develop a pet dental care routine
More than 70% of dogs and 80% of cats show dental disease signs by 3 years of age. Left untreated, dental disease can cause your pet serious pain, infection, tooth decay, and damage to the surrounding bone. Dental disease can also lead to serious heart, lung, liver, and kidney damage. Protect your pet’s oral health by following an at-home dental care routine and scheduling your pet’s regular professional dental examinations and cleanings.
#5: Manage your pet’s weight
An overweight or obese pet has a much higher risk of developing weight-related health conditions, including cancer, osteoarthritis, diabetes, heart failure, and organ dysfunction. Assess your pet’s weight and body condition using a body condition score (BCS) assessment. This easy three-step method involves:
- Palpating the ribs — While lightly pressing your pet’s rib cage, you should be able to feel each rib easily.
- Looking for a waistline — When viewed from above, your pet should have a defined, hourglass-shaped waist.
- Assessing the silhouette — When viewed from the side, your pet should have a slight tuck or upward abdominal slope.
#6: Spay or neuter your pet to reduce cancer risks
Spaying or neutering your pet greatly decreases their reproductive cancer risks. Studies show that spayed dogs live about 23% longer and spayed cats live about 39% longer than intact female pets. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best time to spay or neuter your pet.
Your pet’s life will never seem long enough, but by following these tips, you can help your beloved companion enjoy their years in good health and free from pain. If you would like to schedule your pet’s wellness examination or dental cleaning, contact our Central Houston Animal Hospital team.
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