We all want our pets to live long, healthy lives, but the hustle and bustle of our day-to-day routine can make it tough. Money is always a consideration, as is time and effort. A bit of flexibility in your pet’s early years can save loads of money, pain, and heartache later on. Here are some of the simplest and most effective preventative measures you can take.
1. Clean Their Teeth
Keeping your pets’ teeth and gums healthy isn’t just about improving their breath. Infected gums or teeth can actually lead to serious infections elsewhere in the body. Plus, itchy gums and painful teeth feel awful.
You can teach cats and dogs to let you brush their teeth. Use toothbrushes and toothpastes for pets, since our toothpaste makes them sick. If your pet completely refuses, try a tooth gel that works without brushing (kind of like mouthwash). For really bad tartar, or if your pet already has to be sedated for some other procedure, ask your vet for a professional cleaning to really get in there.
2. Keep Their Weight Down
Cute as it can seem, a fat pet is no joke. Obesity is a major risk factor for painful arthritis, heart problems, and in cats, poor hygiene. Exercise is also really important for mental health — active play is fun, and fun is part of a healthy, well-balanced life.
A good diet begins with not over-feeding, but quality is important as well. Pet food provides adequate nutrition by law, but if you can afford it, it pays to give your pet something better than “adequate.” A premium food recommended by your vet is a great way to ensure that your pet’s diet is up to par.
3. Keep On Top of Basic Medical Care
Regular vet checkups should never be overlooked. Just by listening to your pet’s heart, or by running some basic tests, your vet can expose problems far earlier than if you were simply observing your pet at home. The vet can catch problems early so that something can be done about it. Vaccines, plus preventative medication like heartworm medicine for dogs, are easy ways to protect against complex, and sometimes incurable, problems.
Remember that in some states vets who see wounds that could be bites are legally required to report the animal as a possible rabies carrier. Unvaccinated pets will then have to be quarantined, or be put down. Vaccines keep your pet safe from disease—and safe from the law, too.
4. Keep Your Pet from Eating Bad Things
Dogs are especially talented at eating things they should not, and the cleverness of naughty cats is not far behind them. Chocolate, antifreeze, paint, battery acid, house plants, electrical cords, and yarn are just some problem “edibles.” Sometimes the pet likes the taste, or will swallow something accidentally during play. If a spilled chemical gets on paws or fur, the animal might lick it off (even if the stuff tastes awful).
Pet-proof your home as thoroughly as possible. Don’t use toxic cleaners or baited pesticides. Remember, a poisoned mouse becomes a poison that can walk around.
5. Keep Your Pet Out of the Road
Some dogs heel perfectly and come when called no matter what. Other dogs will need to be indoors, behind a fence, or on a leash, otherwise your pet could get hit by a car, injured in a fight, attacked by a wild animal, or stolen. You may feel that unsupervised outside time may be part of being a happy dog or cat, but just know that this could mean a much higher risk of injury or death, too.
6. Keep Your Pet Safe Around Children
Kids sometimes hurt pets—sometimes on purpose, but usually by accident. Kids, in their attempts to “play,” may also frighten or stress out cats and dogs. Most dogs and some cats are very gentle and tolerant with children, but an animal pushed too far can bite or scratch.
Aside from the danger to children, a record of violence puts your pet in legal danger. You’ll want to learn how to tell that your pet needs help and to defend your furry friend before they defend themselves in a way that could get them in trouble.
More on Pet Health
How to Prevent Dental Health Problems in Cats
5 Reasons Mixed Breed Dogs Make Great Pets
Joint Health Products for Pets With Arthritis
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.