Unfortunately, pets have much shorter lifespans than humans, and saying goodbye to your four-legged family member is extremely difficult. Our team at Walnut Creek Veterinary Hospital wants to help by providing do’s and don’ts to prolong your pet’s life. 

DO spay or neuter your pet

Spay and neuter procedures not only help control the pet homelessness crisis, but also have health benefits for your pet. 

  • Spayed pets — Spayed female pets are at decreased risk for mammary cancer, and the procedure ensures they will not contract uterine diseases, such as infection or cancer. In addition, spaying ensures they won’t encounter pregnancy complications, such as dystocia and eclampsia.
  • Neutered pets — Neutered male pets are at decreased risk for prostate issues, and the procedure ensures they will not be affected by testicular cancer. Neutered pets are less likely to roam, decreasing their risk of being hit by a car, or injured in a fight with another pet or wild animal. 

DON’T skip your pet’s parasite prevention medication

Pets need protection from parasites to help avoid problematic health conditions, and should receive year-round protection against fleas, ticks, heartworms, and gastrointestinal parasites. 

  • Fleas — These small, wingless insects can ingest 15 times their body weight in blood, and their hefty appetite can cause anemia in puppies and kittens. In addition, fleas transmit tapeworms, and can cause severe allergic reactions, resulting in flea bite dermatitis. 
  • Ticks — Ticks transmit many diseases, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, and babesiosis. In addition, the saliva from a pregnant tick can cause an ascending paralysis in pets.
  • Heartworms — Mosquitoes transmit these harmful parasites, which can cause significant, possibly life-threatening, damage to your pet’s heart and lungs. 
  • Gastrointestinal parasites — Tapeworms, roundworms, whipworms, hookworms, giardia, and coccidia can reside in your pet’s gastrointestinal tract, causing malnutrition and digestive disorders.

DO ensure your pet receives regular wellness checks

Pets do not exhibit signs of some serious conditions until the disease is in the advanced stages. In addition, many pets are prone to hide their vulnerabilities, and will purposely mask illness signs, which means that regular wellness checks are the best method for detecting medical problems in the early stages when they can be better managed and treated. Wellness checks help our veterinary professionals diagnose issues in numerous ways. 

  • Physical examination — A thorough physical examination can suggest conditions such as heart disease, abdominal masses, and thyroid conditions, and lead to a recommendation for further diagnostics.
  • Blood work — Screening blood work, including a complete blood count and a biochemistry profile, can detect conditions such as infection, anemia, liver disease, kidney issues, and diabetes.
  • Urinalysis — Evaluating your pet’s urine can detect conditions such as urinary tract crystals and diabetes.
  • Thyroid tests — Thyroid tests are commonly recommended in senior pets, since thyroid conditions are prevalent in older cats and dogs, and can cause significant problems in affected pets.

DON’T neglect your pet’s teeth

Periodontal disease can lead to significant health issues, and most cats and dogs have some degree of the disease by the time they are 3 years of age. Food particles that are left in your pet’s mouth when they eat attract bacteria, which form plaque that hardens into tartar. Removing these deposits is important to protect your pet’s oral overall health. Steps to promote your pet’s oral hygiene include:

  • Professional veterinary dental cleanings — Bring your pet to our hospital for regular professional veterinary dental cleanings. These procedures involve anesthetizing your pet to safely and thoroughly remove the bacteria from their teeth and under their gum line. 
  • Daily toothbrushing — To keep your pet’s mouth clean between professional dentals, brush their teeth daily using pet-specific dental products.
  • Dental chews — Chews recommended by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) help remove some of the accumulated plaque and tartar on your pet’s teeth.

DO keep your pet at a healthy weight

Pet obesity is prevalent in the United States, and overweight pets are at increased risk for many concerning health issues, including cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and kidney issues. Ensuring your pet remains at a healthy weight is the best way to avoid these conditions. Steps include:

  • Evaluating your pet’s weight — During your pet’s next wellness visit, our veterinary professionals will weigh your pet and assess their body conditioning score (BCS) to determine if they are at an ideal weight. We will develop a safe weight-loss program if your pet needs to lose a few pounds.
  • Monitoring your pet’s weight — Weigh your pet and assess their BCS regularly, to ensure they are maintaining an ideal weight, or losing weight appropriately, if they are on a weight loss program.
  • Calculating your pet’s energy requirements — Use your pet’s weight, breed, activity level, age, and spay or neuter status to calculate your pet’s daily energy requirements.
  • Measuring your pet’s food — Measure your pet’s food portions with measuring cups, to ensure they aren’t being overfed.
  • Providing appropriate exercise — Exercise your pet daily to ensure their physical activity needs are met. 

Your pet can’t live forever, but following these do’s and don’ts will help prolong their life as long as possible. If you would like to schedule a wellness exam or a dental cleaning, contact our team at Walnut Creek Veterinary Hospital, so we can help add years to your pet’s life.