You and your veterinarian make up the “All-Star” Pet Care team when it comes to keeping your dog happy and healthy. But you are the Most Valuable Player (MVP) on this team! Since you, as the pet owner, are on the front line in protecting your pooch, it’s up to you to step up and take control. Educate yourself on proper pet care and dog health problems by asking questions and finding answers from reliable, trusted sources of information – such as your veterinarian and their staff. You can also obtain valuable information online, from sites like Zoe’s Back Yard!
It can be difficult to stay on top of what's best for your own health and well-being, so knowing what's good for your pet may seem a little confusing. Keep your “best friend” safe, healthy and happy by following pet care guidelines as laid out by the professionals.
Spay or Neuter Your Dog –
8 – 10 million pets end up in local shelters every year – some are lost, some have been abandoned, and some are homeless! The first step in quality pet care is spaying or neutering your dog, a procedure that can be performed as early as 6-8 weeks of age, you can help avoid adding to that number.
Spaying and neutering doesn’t just cut down on the number of unwanted pets. It also has other important health benefits for your dog. Studies show that it lowers the risk of certain cancers, and it reduces a dog’s risk of getting lost by decreasing the urge to roam.
Prevent Parasites –
Another pet care health benefit from reducing your dog’s roaming is in decreasing the risk of picking up fleas and other detrimental pests. Fleas are the most common external parasite that plagues domestic animals. They have been found to lead to irritated skin, hair loss, hot spots, and infection. Fleas can also introduce other parasites into your dog. All it takes is for him to swallow one flea, and he can to end up with tapeworms, the most common internal parasite affecting dogs today.
Ticks are another indisputably dreaded enemy – they are bad news because they may transmit diseases and even cause anemia or paralysis. They are also known vectors of disease. If you live in a region where ticks are found, you should check your dog for ticks after coming in from the outdoors, especially if he has been in a wooded area. Ticks should be safely removed and dogs watched for signs of tick related illnesses.
Dogs at risk for fleas and ticks should be treated with some form of flea and tick prevention. Year-round protection and prevention is key, which will also include intestinal parasite control. Heartworm control and prevention is also recommended in most geographic areas.
Get Regular Vaccinations –
For optimal pet care and overall canine health, dogs need regular vaccinations against common ills, such as rabies, distemper and canine hepatitis. How often your dog needs to be immunized depends upon their age, lifestyle, health, and risks, so talk to your vet about the various vaccinations that make sense for your dog’s pet care.
Maintain a Healthy Weight –
Just like the rest of us, many dogs throughout the U.S. are overweight or obese. And just like people, obesity in pets comes with health risks that include diabetes, arthritis, and cancer. Overfeeding is the leading cause of obesity, and keeping your dog fit and trim can add years to his life, as well as drastically cut down on pet care costs.
Provide Dental Care –
Just like you, your dog can suffer from gum disease, tooth loss, and tooth pain. And just like you, regular brushing and oral cleanings help keep his teeth strong and healthy.
It’s estimated 80% of dogs show signs of dental disease by age three, leading to abscesses, loose teeth, and chronic pain. In addition to regular dental cleanings by your vet, periodontal disease can be avoided by proper dental pet care, including brushing, oral rinses, and dental treats.
Get an Annual Exam –
Just like humans, your dog can get heart problems, develop arthritis, or have a toothache. The best pet care to prevent such problems or catch them early is to see your veterinarian every year.
A regular annual exam is the single most important pet care action you can take to keep your dog healthy. Any routine, regular visit should cover recommended vaccinations, parasite control, a dental exam, nutrition, and potential weight control issues.