Are you planning to save more money this year, or maybe lose a few pounds? Many people make New Year’s resolutions, but have you considered making resolutions for your pet? Our Red Oak Animal Hospital team wants to help you ring in a great New Year for your pet with our resolution do’s and don’ts.

DO schedule regular wellness visits for your pet

You may expect your pet to let you know they are sick or in pain, but most pets instinctually hide vulnerabilities. In the wild, exhibiting weakness puts a target on the animal’s back that they are easy prey for predators. Your pet isn’t being stalked, but the instinct is deeply rooted, which means your pet may act completely normal until their condition is so advanced that their illness is impossible to hide. Most health complications are easier to address and have a better prognosis when detected and treated early, and regular wellness visits are the best way to identify health complications as soon as possible. These visits involve:

  • History — Our veterinary team asks you for a detailed history about your pet’s health and any behavioral changes they have exhibited.
  • Examination — We physically examine your four-legged friend from nose to tail to check for any health abnormalities that may be problematic.
  • Blood work — Our veterinary team takes a blood sample for a complete blood count (CBC) and biochemistry profile to check for issues such as infection, anemia, electrolyte abnormalities, diabetes, kidney disease, and liver dysfunction.
  • Urinalysis — We assess the color, concentration and content of your pet’s urine to detect conditions such as a urinary tract infection, urinary stones, diabetes, and kidney disease.
  • Vaccines — Our veterinary team evaluates your pet’s lifestyle and disease risk to devise an appropriate vaccine regimen that will protect them from dangerous infections. 
  • Parasite detection — We run diagnostics to check your pet for heartworms and intestinal parasites.

DON’T neglect your pet’s dental health

Dental disease is a significant problem for many pets, and regular professional veterinary dental cleanings are the only way to effectively combat the condition. If not addressed properly, dental disease can cause many issues, including:

  • Bad breath — As bacteria accumulate in your pet’s mouth, they produce sulfur-producing compounds that cause your pet’s breath to smell bad.
  • Bleeding gums — Bacteria at the gum line cause gingivitis, which leads to swollen, bleeding gums.
  • Loose teeth — As the bacteria invade under the gum line, they damage the teeth supporting structures, leading to loose and missing teeth.
  • Tooth root infection — Bacteria that invade the tooth root can fester and cause infection.
  • Organ damage — If the bacteria enter your pet’s bloodstream, they can spread infection throughout their body and damage organs, including their heart and kidneys.

DO keep your pet at a healthy weight

Saying “No” to your pet who is begging for food is difficult, but keeping your pet at a healthy weight decreases their risk for serious health complications, such as cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, and arthritis. Do’s and don’ts to help prevent your pet from gaining weight include:

  • DO evaluate your pet’s weight — During your pet’s next wellness visit, ask our veterinary team if your pet is at a healthy weight, and then track their weight by weighing them every one to two months. If your pet is overweight, we will help you devise a safe weight loss program.
  • DON’T feed your pet free choice — Calculate your pet’s energy requirements and measure their food accordingly, so you ensure their food amount is appropriate.
  • DO exercise your pet regularly — Ensure your pet gets adequate daily exercise to keep them fit and healthy.
  • DON’T give too many treats — When you treat your pet, ensure you account for the calories in their overall daily caloric intake. Treats should account for no more than 10% of your pet’s daily calories.

DON’T forget your pet’s parasite preventive

Parasites frequently target pets and cause serious health complications. Every pet, including cats who live only indoors, should receive year-round parasite prevention medication. Common issues caused by parasites include:

  • Heartworm disease — Transmitted by mosquitoes, heartworms can travel to your pet’s heart and lungs and cause serious, irreversible injury, and potentially death.
  • Tick-borne illnesses — A tick that attaches to your pet can transmit diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis, and ehrlichiosis. In addition, certain female ticks produce a neurotoxin that causes an ascending paralysis.
  • Flea bite dermatitis — Flea bite dermatitis, which is the most common pet skin disease, is caused by an allergy to the flea’s saliva and results in severe itching. Affected pets typically scratch constantly and often damage their skin when they attempt to find relief. 

DO provide appropriate mental stimulation for your pet

Pets need mental stimulation to keep them engaged and prevent boredom. Recommendations include:

  • Feed your pet using a food puzzle toy — Commercially available or homemade food puzzle toys make your pet use their brain to access their food, so mealtimes are more interesting.
  • Schedule playtime with your pet — Schedule time daily to interact with your pet. 
  • Teach your pet a new trick — To activate your pet’s brain, teach them a new, fun trick.

These do’s and don’ts should help your pet have an amazing year. If you would like to schedule a wellness examination for your pet, contact our Red Oak Animal Hospital team, so we can help them ring in the New Year right for a healthy, happy 2023.