If pet lovers worldwide could have one wish, they would all wish their pets could live longer. No matter how long and healthy our pet’s life span, we can never be satisfied. And while we can’t stop time, we can extend our pet’s life—in quality and quantity—by taking a preventive care approach to their mental and physical health.
Take the following action steps today, and add years to your pet’s life.
#1: Visit the veterinarian at least once a year
Annual wellness exams at Companion Veterinary Clinic may be the simplest and most beneficial way to ensure your pet’s current and future health. Our yearly visits emphasize disease and illness prevention by building and supporting your pet’s immune system (e.g., vaccines), screening for early disease signs (e.g., physical examination, heartworm test, blood work), and providing preventive products and medications that safeguard your pet year-round.
Our veterinary services are not only for sick or injured pets—on the contrary, caring for your pet while they are healthy allows us to establish a baseline, and provide less invasive, more successful treatment should we detect an abnormality. For example, blood work can identify disease markers years before visible signs appear.
#2: Stay up to date on your pet’s vaccinations
When your pet is young, early vaccinations train their immune system to recognize specific viruses and pathogens. During adulthood, this immunity can naturally fade if your pet does not encounter a real-life threat. Booster vaccinations ensure your pet’s immune response is periodically stimulated and working appropriately. We’ll work with you to determine your pet’s specific vaccination needs based on their health, lifestyle, and exposure risks.
As in young pets, a weakened immune system in senior dogs and cats can make them vulnerable to viruses and disease they were once protected against. Don’t scale back on your senior dog or cat’s vaccines during their golden years.
#3: Train your pet
Behavior problems, such as barking, chewing, house soiling, and reactivity, are common reasons why pets are surrendered to shelters—where some are ultimately euthanized. Consistent and positive training ensures your pet learns appropriate behavior at home and in public, making them easier to care for, live with, and enjoy.
Training is never “over,” but a continuous process throughout your pet’s life. Dogs and cats are continuously learning from their environment and taking cues from their owners about behaviors that are reinforceable or punishable. Training also satisfies pets mentally, builds their confidence, and resolves boredom—further reducing, or sometimes resolving, nuisance behaviors such as barking, destructiveness, or stress-induced house soiling.
A pet’s sudden behavior changes may have a medical cause—contact Companion Veterinary Clinic first to rule out pain or illness. Then, seek the advice of a professional positive reinforcement-based pet trainer for personalized suggestions or coaching.
#4: Keep up on your pet’s dental care
Dental health is a major part of your pet’s overall wellbeing. Unfortunately, more than 70% of dogs and 80% of cats show periodontal (i.e., dental) disease signs by age 3. This progressive condition is more than stinky breath and dirty teeth—periodontal disease causes pain, infection, decay, and tooth loss, and damages the surrounding bone. Overwhelming bacteria can lead to irreversible, life-shortening heart, lung, liver, and kidney damage.
Prevent dental disease with a consistent care routine, that includes:
- Brushing your pet’s teeth daily
- Feeding a dental diet
- Visiting the veterinarian annually
- Scheduling dental cleanings under anesthesia, as recommended
#5: Keep your pet at a healthy weight
Your pet’s weight is more than an aesthetic concern. Excess weight can put them at increased risk for cancer, arthritis, orthopedic injuries, skin disorders, respiratory problems, and kidney failure. Keeping your pet at a lean body weight not only protects their joints from unnecessary stress, but also has been shown to add almost two years to their life.
Preventing obesity involves paying close attention to your pet’s diet and exercise routine, as well as the following:
- Feeding a veterinary recommended or approved diet
- Avoiding fad diets (e.g., exotic proteins, grain-free, or boutique brands)
- Dividing your pet’s daily calories into several small meals
- Using a measuring cup to ensure you’re feeding the right calorie amount
- Limiting calorie-dense treats and chews
Ensure your pet gets physical exercise daily. In addition to helping with weight control, exercise creates a natural endorphin release that can help your pet feel calmer and more satisfied. For dogs, exercise can include traditional walks and play, organized dog training or sports (e.g., agility, rally obedience, dock diving), and outdoor opportunities, such as hiking, trail running, or swimming. Cats can benefit from short bursts of play (i.e., 5 to 10 minutes) using a motion-activated toy, laser pointer, or feather wand. For hard-to-impress cats, a puzzle feeder or foraging game may engage their natural desire to hunt.
More years, more love—start protecting your pet today
Simple everyday actions can add up to years of extra memories, snuggles, and laughter with your pet. Start making a positive impact on your pet’s quality and quantity of life by scheduling an appointment for their wellness care at Companion Veterinary Clinic.