The health of your dog or cat is of the utmost importance to any pet parent. While part of providing care is through love and routine wellness exams, there are other things you can do as well. Today, our Sacramento vets share some information about routine pet care for your cat or dog and other ways you can help keep them healthy.
How To Provide Quality Care For Your Beloved Pet
Our pets mean the world to us. After all, they are not just an animal, they are a member of the family. Here, our vets at Elkhorn-Walerga Animal Hospital share some of the ways that you can help ensure lifelong health and happiness for your cat or dog through routine pet care, dental examinations and more.
Routine Dog or Cat Wellness Exams
A healthy adult cat or dog should see their vet once a year for a routine wellness exam (pet checkup) to make sure they don't have any illnesses or diseases or catch them early when they are easier to treat. Young or senior pets and animals that have an underlying medical issues may have to see their veterinarian more frequently.
At these veterinary appointments, your vet will assess your pet's overall health, make sure their vaccinations are up to date, recommend preventive care products, and inform you of your furry friend's nutritional and exercise requirements. These visits provide your pet with their best chance at lifelong optimal health.
Provide a Nutritional Diet
There are many benefits to providing your pet with a diet that contains all of the nutrients they need to be healthy, such as strengthening their immune system, helping their coat stay shiny, keeping your pet's skin healthy, maintaining their intestinal health, increasing your animal's mental acuity, keeping their muscles and joints in optimal health, and more.
If you aren't sure what type of food to feed your pet ask your Sacramento veterinarian during their routine wellness exam, they will be able to recommend the types of food that will be best for your cat or dog.
Weight Management and Exercise
Obesity can shorten your pet's lifespan, and just a few extra pounds on your cat or dog's waistline can increase their risk of various diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and more. When you bring your cat or dog in for their routine exam, your vet will be able to weigh your pet and inform you what their ideal weight should be.
Your vet can tell you how many calories your furry friend should be consuming every day, so you will be able to know how much you should be feeding your pet at every meal. In addition to this, you also need to provide your cat or dog with enough exercise every day to help them maintain a healthy weight.
Vaccines and Preventive Pet Care
Another important thing you need to do to keep your pet healthy is to ensure their core vaccinations are provided on schedule and kept up to date. Vaccines help protect your cat or dog from a range of serious often life-threatening diseases and illnesses, and some vaccinations such as the rabies vaccine are mandatory by law in most states.
The exact vaccination schedule for your cat or dog will depend on the health of your pet and where you live but generally, they should start receiving their first round of shots when they are 6 to 8 weeks old. During your pet's routine dog or cat wellness exam, you can ask your vet which vaccinations your pet needs and when you should be bringing them in for their vaccines.
Spaying or Neutering Your Pet
Having your cat or dog fixed doesn't just prevent the birth of unwanted litters, these common procedures also prevent a range of dangerous conditions and some undesirable behaviors including roaming, territory marking, howling, scooting, and animal aggression. Your veterinarian will be able to inform you how old they think your pet should be to get spayed or neutered.
Reasons to Get Your Cat Fixed
Pet parents often feel reluctant to have their cat spayed or neutered, especially if they intend for their cat to remain indoors full-time. But, there are some very good reasons why our vets believe that your cat should be sterilized regardless of whether they are indoor homebodies or outdoor adventurers:
- Protect your cat's health - Fixing a female cat, especially before the first heat, helps prevent uterine infections, uterine cancers, and breast cancer. Fixing male cats eliminate the chances of testicular cancer and lower the risk of prostate problems. Generally, sterilized pets live healthier, longer, and happier lives.
- Enjoy a more behaved cat - Sterilized cats are often better behaved. They will be less likely to roam, yowl, wail, bite, display aggressive behavior, or spray or mark their territory. Intact males will do just about anything they can to find mates, including escaping from your home, which puts them at risk of injury or fights with other males. Roaming can also expose your cat to dangerous diseases, including feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus.
- Fight overpopulation - Millions of healthy cats are euthanized in the U.S. each year because there aren't enough homes available. Sterilization can help control the pet overpopulation crisis and reduce the number of strays, which end up in shelters instead of loving homes. Unfortunately, many end up homeless and are left to fend for themselves.
- More cost-effective - The long-term costs you could incur by not fixing your feline friend can be excessive. Treating cancers of the reproductive system can be quite costly, as is caring for a new litter of kittens. Additionally, unaltered pets can be more destructive and may engage in serious fights with neighborhood strays, often requiring pricey treatments.
- Your cat will likely be happier to stay home - One of the reasons fixed cats live so much longer is that they are less likely to wander away from home and fight with other male cats. Sterilization stops the production of testosterone. This hormone leads to more aggressive behavior.
Reasons to Get Your Dog Fixed
Our vets feel that getting your dog fixed is an important part of caring for your pet's overall health and well-being. Below are just a few reasons why you should consider getting your dog spayed or neutered.
- Population control - According to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), approximately 3.3 million dogs enter shelters every year across the USA. Fixing your dog is the best way for you to help reduce the overall number of unplanned puppies each year while improving your pet's behavior and reducing their risk of some serious health conditions.
- Prevent disease - Sterilization helps to prevent male dogs from developing testicular cancer and helps to prevent serious health problems from affecting your female dog such as pyometra, (a potentially life-threatening uterine infection), and mammary cancer.
- Curb unwanted behaviors - These surgeries may also help reduce a number of undesirable behaviors such as dog aggression, roaming and straying, and humping or mounting.
- Save money - Treating cancers of the reproductive system can be quite costly, as is caring for a dog throughout pregnancy and caring for puppies. Not only that, unaltered pets can be more destructive indoors and in your yard and may engage in serious fights with neighborhood strays, often requiring trips to the emergency vet.
- Your dog will be more contented to stay home - Male dogs that have not been fixed are very likely to try to escape on a regular basis to go in search of female dogs that are in heat. Unaccompanied roaming can lead to an increased risk of being hit by a car or becoming lost or stolen. Having your dog fixed can help them to feel more contented to be at home with you.
Routine Pet Dental Care
Your pet's oral health is an essential element of their overall health and well-being. Unfortunately, our furry companions usually begin to show signs of dental diseases by the time they reach adulthood. This early start to dental disease can have serious negative consequences for their long-term health.
The link between heart disease and periodontal disease in dogs is believed to be due to bacteria entering the bloodstream from the mouth, damaging heart function and causing issues with other organs. These health issues are in addition to the more obvious problem of pain caused by eroded gums, and missing or damaged teeth.
A good oral health care routine at home paired with dental treats, and professional dental cleanings can go a long way toward controlling the buildup of plaque and tartar and preventing tooth decay. Neglecting annual professional cleaning could put your pet at risk of developing gingivitis, periodontal disease, bad breath, and in severe cases pain, tooth decay and tooth loss.
Your vet may recommend more specific dental care if they note present issues during your pet's annual exam but you should aim to bring your pet in for routine dental checkups to avoid issues.
Grooming For Your Cat or Dog
Make sure you are keeping up with their grooming requirements to prevent painful knots, mats, and skin conditions. Each breed of cat and dog has its own set of needs for how often they need to be groomed, pets with longer fur need to be groomed more regularly than shorter-haired breeds. Grooming can include brushing, bathing, nail trims, and more. We suggest writing down in your schedule or calendar how often you should be grooming your animal friend, your veterinarian can inform you of your pet's unique needs and recommend the best tools to use.
If you have a stubborn pet, are uncomfortable performing certain tasks (such as hair cuts or nail trimmings), your animal has tough knots or matted fur, or if you just want your cat or dog to look their absolute best, you should consider looking into professional grooming services in the Sacramento area. Our vets at Elkhorn-Walerga Animal Hospital may be able to provide recommendations, ask us during your pet's routine vet care.
Ensure Constant Supervision
While you may think you are doing your pet a favor by letting them roam unsupervised, it's best to always keep an eye on them and know where they are. By monitoring your pet you can keep them from getting into car accidents, fighting with other cats or dogs, being taken, predation, consuming harmful substances (ex. poisons, toxic plants, dangerous foods), prevent them from being exposed to serious contagions, and more.
If you have a cat you may want to keep them as an indoor companion, or if you have a dog you can keep them on a leash, in a fenced back yard, or supervised at a dog park.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.