Recently I was inspired by an article I read on this topic, so I decided to share with you my own list of 10 things I want you to know:
1. Annual exams are important.
Not only because dogs and cats age much faster than humans (of course you knew that!), but because early detection of disease gives your pet a better chance at a longer life with you.
2. Dental care is more important than you think.
I know it sounds silly when your vet recommends that you brush your pet’s teeth at home, and you hate the idea of your pet under anesthesia for a proper dental cleaning. But trust me when I say that when it comes to oral health, an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure.
If you want to save money on your pets life-long medical care, invest in their teeth NOW, before you have to spend thousands of dollars having all their teeth extracted because they are so diseased, and/or treating their heart/kidney disease that was secondary to their dental disease. Seriously.
3. If you love your pet, keep them lean.
Pet obesity in our country rivals the human obesity epidemic. We are literally loving our pets to death. An overweight pet has an average life span of TWO YEARS LESS than their healthy counterparts! Make sure you are feeding your pet the right amount of a high quality food, giving them the right kind of exercise, and not giving them too many treats. If you don’t know what is appropriate, guess who does…(uh, that would be your veterinarian, if you didn’t know.)
4. Microchipping your pet could save their life.
It might sound extreme, but it’s the truth. Imagine your pet gets lost – they may end up in a shelter, where they could be euthanized or adopted by another family if they aren’t microchipped. That little $50 investment will tell the authorities where your pet really belongs!
5. You play an important part in helping your pet have a good experience with the vet. Start desensitization at home.
If you want a big gold star from your veterinarian, teach your pet to enjoy being touched all over, having their ears and muzzle manipulated, their mouth opened, and their tail lifted. Teach your cat to think the carrier is fantastic. And by all means, be sure your dog knows his manners (sit, stay, come, down, heel)! These are first steps which will allow your pet have a fear-free experience at the vet.
6. Cats need special treatment.
Many think that cats are low-maintenance pets, and that’s true to some extent. But they have species-specific needs that must be addressed if they are going to live long, happy, healthy lives.
Environmental enrichment, mental stimulation, appropriate litter boxes, and places to scratch are just a few things to think about. Medically speaking, you should know that cats are the masters of disguise. They will keep disease hidden, and even if they are showing signs they will be very subtle. Any changes in appetite, behavior, weight loss, or litter box habits must be brought to your vet’s attention right away. And please, OH please, have your cat examined EVERY YEAR.
7. Make your home environment safe for your pets.
Please keep prescription and over-the-counter medications completely out of reach. Educate yourself on which foods and plants are toxic to pets. Pet poisonings are one of the most common preventable emergencies seen by veterinarians, and we would love it if that were not the case.
8. Marijuana is BAD for your dog.
Okay, this one is specific to Colorado, but important nonetheless! Marijuana, in ANY form, is toxic to your dog. If you notice your dog losing his balance, walking like he’s drunk, leaking urine or losing complete bladder control, take them to the vet right away. And keep your stash, as well as any paraphernalia, far away from Fido.
9. Don’t self-diagnose. Dr. Google is not a good veterinarian.
There’s a ton of information out there on the internet…some good, and some not so good. If you’re concerned about your pet, just call the vet. Your vet’s knowledge, eyes, ears, fingers, and diagnostic tests are vastly superior to Dr. Google’s.
10. Don’t wait too long to see your vet.
There is a good chance that whatever medical issue your pet is experiencing is not going to go away on its own. And even if it might, your pet will suffer needlessly in the meantime. Early intervention not only gives your pet the best prognosis and care, but could save you money in the long run. And who doesn’t want to save money?