There is no doubt about it: Our pets are our family, and we want them in our lives for as long as possible. To keep them in good health, we turn to our wonderfully skilled veterinarians to help us along the way, but we must also help them—by asking the right questions.
Just like with our own health, our fur babies need annual checkups to prevent or detect any major health concerns. Though, since our pets can’t tell us how they feel it is up to us as owners to watch out for any unusual signs and ask the appropriate questions to hopefully catch health issues before they begin.
Just as you would for your own doctor, try jotting down your main concerns in regards to your pet’s health to talk about with your vet. Bringing up some of these important topics at their next exam that could make a world of difference:
How much exercise/play does your dog or cat need?
Just like humans, no two animals are alike. Depending on their age, size, breed and overall health their exercise needs will vary. That is why it is important to talk to your vet about how much exercise your specific pet will need. Insufficient exercise can cause to joint pain and obesity, while too much can be taxing on the body. For example, dogs bred to work such as retrievers or collies will require more exercise than smaller, more sedentary breeds such as a pug or Shih Tzu. Additionally, larger breed dogs tend to have more joint problems and may need extra joint support, especially if they are very active.
What can you do for dental health?
Periodontal disease is very common in pets, some breeds can even be more susceptible to bad teeth. Poor dental health can cause an myriad of health concerns including gingivitis, tooth loss, and organ issues- so it’s best to catch it early. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, your dog’s teeth should be checked at least once a year by your vet to determine if professional cleaning is needed. The AVMA suggests seeing your vet if you encounter symptoms such as swelling of the gums, bad breath, reduced appetite, mouth bleeding and more.
These symptoms can be preventable. The best way to avoid major dental issues in the future is by daily brushing. Items that claim to clean teeth such as bones and rawhides can actually causes blockages and do more harm than good. If daily brushing is not possible with your cat or dog, your vet may have alternative methods you can use to keep your pet’s teeth healthy as can be!
Is your pet at a healthy weight?
We know those puppy dog eyes and tiny meows can be very persuasive, especially when it comes to feeding time, but maintaining your pet’s weight is crucial to keeping them in good health. You can reduce your pet’s risk of diabetes, cancer, kidney disease and more just by keeping them at a healthy weight. Many pet parents are not sure what exactly their pet’s “ideal” weight is, and that is OK! Your vet can look at not only your pet’s weight on the scale but how their body looks and feels to establish whether or not they require a special diet and/or exercise regimen. Excessive weight gain can also be signs of other concerns such as Cushing’s Disease and Hypothyroidism, so it’s always a good idea to schedule an appointment if you cannot get to the root cause of your pet’s weight issues.
What kind of food should they be eating?
Feeding your pet a completely balanced diet is the first step to a healthy, long life for your cat or dog. When choosing a diet, especially, consulting with your vet is vital—if your pet has health concerns such as kidney disease, pancreatitis, IBD, etc., you will want their diet to reflect and help manage the disease. Be wary of foods that claim to be natural or have fillers or preservatives, as these will not help your dog or cat nutritionally and can make any health problems worse.
JustFoodForDogs believes a human edible, USDA certified and nutritionally balanced diet- especially one that has been scientifically proven to boost the immune system- will give your pets everything they need to live long and happy lives. When health concerns are present, deferring to your vet about diet changes is always suggested. If you have any questions about switching to whole foods, feel free to reach out to us seven days a week at 949-722-3647 or firstname.lastname@example.org!
Blog Post Written By: Jasmine Kemper
JustFoodForDogs Nutrition Consultant