October may be filled with fall festivities and Halloween costumes, but this month also celebrates pets with more than just the image of a dog howling at the moon. As National Pet Wellness Month, October is a time for reevaluating your pet’s health and preventing disease. Because dogs age seven times faster, on average, than people, major health changes can occur in a short amount of time. That`s why a regular wellness exam is so important.
Just as you should get annual check-ups, have your teeth cleaned every 6 months, and take your car in regularly for an oil change, your dog needs periodic check-ups too. Once-a-year exams are recommended for young, healthy dogs. Older dogs or those with health problems could benefit from a minimum of twice-a-year exams.
Wellness exams can identify a problem early on, when it is much easier to treat. With regular visits to your veterinarian, any health problems can be more easily recognized, diagnosed and treated. Many health conditions can be managed better when diagnosed early. This also means that treatment might be less expensive. Early diagnosis also means that your dog might live longer and have a better quality of life.
When having your pet examined, make sure you talk with your veterinarian about any changes in your dog’s appetite, behavior, urinary and bowel habits, exercise tolerance, weight loss or gain, or drinking habits. Discuss topics such as vaccinations, healthy food, parasite control, and home dental care with your veterinarian. You may be able to prevent problems before they ever start! Check out some tips below on properly caring for you dog.
A few tips from the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, on how to properly care for your furry family member throughout the year:
· Spay/Neuter: It is incredibly important to have your pet spayed or neutered. Not only do the procedures prevent individual medical problems such as mammary and testicular tumors and uterine infections, spaying or neutering also helps curb pet overpopulation and reduces the number of unwanted pets who are euthanized every day. Spay and neuter surgeries can be safely performed as early as 8-12 weeks of age.
· Weight Management: Obesity is a real and newly recognized problem for pets. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 53 percent of adult dogs were classified as overweight or obese by their veterinarians. Prevention is much easier to accomplish than treatment, so consult your veterinarian about the right diet and exercise regimen for your pet.
· A Balanced Diet: Commercial dog foods make it easy to provide a nutritionally balanced and complete diet. Dog foods contain all of the different nutrients your animal needs in the appropriate quantities. Remember it can be very difficult to create a balanced and complete diet from “people” foods.
· Dental Care: Teeth and oral health are extremely important when caring for your pet and should be evaluated annually. If you are fortunate to have a dog who will tolerate frequent brushing, you are already one step ahead. Unchecked, dental disease can lead to kidney problems or nutritional issues if your pet cannot adequately chew and digest their food.
· Senior Pets: As dogs age, their dietary requirements and their ability to digest certain foods changes. When dogs grow older, they lose some ability to concentrate urine so they need to produce more, and therefore need more water intake. You can help by feeding your pets better quality proteins and avoiding red meats like beef and beef by-products. Doing this will decrease the work load on the kidneys and help prevent diseases and health issues from developing.
*National Pet Wellness Month is a nationwide educational campaign sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and Fort Dodge Animal Health.
- www.HumaneSociety.Org, October 4, 2012, Groups Offer Tips for National Pet Wellness Month, Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association.