Hi there! It’s me, your adorable puppy! I know you’re obsessed with me—I don’t blame you—and all you can think about is that I’m so darn cute. Well, that, and how naughty I can be—I’m sorry about your shoes, by the way. I’m young, adorable, and in great health, so now is the perfect time to discuss my future. Pets don’t live as long as people, but if you take care of my health and wellbeing now, you can help ensure I live the longest, healthiest, and happiest life possible. My friends at Red Oak Animal Hospital are pet health experts who want to help you along the way. Here are our helpful tips to add years to your pet’s life, so you can enjoy as much time together as possible.
#1: Schedule pet wellness visits
Help me learn from a young age that visiting the veterinarian is a good thing. I might be a little nervous, but when folks like those at Red Oak Animal Hospital are so nice and gentle and caring, they help me feel calm. So, don’t take me to the vet only when I seem sick—take me in for regular wellness exams to keep my health in tip-top shape. It’s much easier for my veterinarian to treat health problems early, before they become serious—not to mention the money you’ll save by preventing rather than treating illness.
The frequency of my wellness exams will continuously change depending on my age and health. Puppies and kittens need to visit the veterinarian often to receive important vaccinations, while most healthy adult pets require a wellness exam once a year to stay up to date on vaccines and parasite prevention, and senior pets need twice-yearly checks. All wellness exams include a nose-to-tail examination checking for any lumps, bumps, pain, or other abnormalities that could be problematic for me in the future.
#2: Keep your pet at a healthy weight
A roly-poly puppy may be cute, but a pudgy pet has a higher risk of a weight-related health condition, including cancer, osteoarthritis, diabetes, heart failure, and organ dysfunction. Start me on a healthy diet and exercise regimen at an early age to reduce my risk and keep me in tip-top shape. You can evaluate my body condition score (BCS) to determine if my weight is healthy with these steps:
- Palpating the ribs — You should be able to easily feel each rib with only light pressure.
- Looking for a waistline — When viewed from above, I should have a defined, hourglass-shaped waist.
- Assessing the silhouette — When viewed from the side, I should have a slight tuck or upward abdominal slope.
Don’t let extra weight reduce my quality—or quantity—of life. If you are concerned about my weight, contact my veterinarian, who can answer questions, provide support, and offer resources to ensure I achieve my optimal weight.
#3: Don’t neglect your pet’s dental health
My razor-sharp puppy teeth may not be a health risk right now, but dental health plays an important role in my overall health and wellbeing. Dental disease is one of the most common medical conditions in pets—more than 70% of dogs and 80% of cats show periodontal (i.e., dental) disease signs by age 3. Please brush up on pet dental care to ensure my oral hygiene is top notch throughout my life, and establish a dental care routine that includes:
- Regular veterinary dental exams
- Professional teeth cleanings, according to our veterinarian’s recommendations
- Daily at-home toothbrushing
#4: Provide your pet with mental enrichment
My physical health isn’t the only component of my wellbeing. Like people, I need regular stimulation and enrichment to support my mental function, build confidence, release stress, and prolong my happiness and good health. Without this, I am more likely to become bored, anxious, and depressed. And, maintaining my mental health is easy—simply follow these steps to incorporate mental enrichment into my daily life:
- Provide food puzzles and interactive toys
- Teach me new tricks
- Take me on daily walks, including exploring new routes
- Spend daily quality time with me
I can’t wait to spend my life with you, and taking a proactive approach to my health can ensure we have many wonderful years together. Make the Red Oak Animal Hospital team an important part of my health maintenance. Schedule a wellness exam as soon as possible, and start me on a healthy, happy path.