Jan 20 2016

Five Ways to Help Your Pet Live Longer

There is only one thing wrong with dogs and cats, at least as I see it, and that is that their lives are too short! I know I am not the only one who feels this way. So are we able to change this? To some extent YES! And in fact we already have, as our pets are living longer and healthier than they ever did! Though our pets may never live as long as we do, there are a few things we can do to keep our pets healthier and by our sides for as long as possible. Check out these 5 steps to make sure you pet lives the longest, healthiest life possible.

IMG_0445Regular Exercise

We all laugh at the funny photos of the round cats and pudgy dogs but those extra pounds are shortening the life of your pet. When we give into those big brown eyes that are just begging for a bite of whatever is on your plate, we end up doing more harm than good and will kill our pets with kindness. Diet and exercise is an essential part in keeping your pet fit and healthy. Exercise is not just an important step for keeping excess weight off and keeping muscles, joints and the heart healthy, it is is also important for mental stimulation. So exercise is vital for both quality, as well as quantity of life. So grab a leash and take Fido for a walk OR grab a toy and start playing with Felix.

Quality Diet

Make sure you’re giving your pet a high-quality, age and breed appropriate diet. There is A LOT of nutrition advice available but make sure you are getting nutritional advice form a reputable source! Your dog trainer may be crazy smart and really nice but do they have a degree in nutrition? I do not believe there is one perfect diet for all pets and owners must find what works for their pet. But since there is not a single cell in any body that is not affected by nutrition, we want to make sure you are feeding the best that you can, and are feeding the appropriate amount. It can be very confusing as you will get advice from everyone from the groomer to Dr. Google. When I am listening to advice I always think about the source. Do they have a degree or courses in nutrition or are they just repeating what the store manager taught them. When I read things on Google I check to see what is the science to support the information. As one client once told me after she did some research on Google, “you can find anything on Google to support any argument.” So my advice is follow the science. For more information check out Picking The Right Diet For Your Pet And The Battle Of The Bulge: How Many Calories Do I Feed Or give Fraser Valley Animal Hospital a call and we will help you sort out the facts from the fiction.

 Dental Care

Who knew mouths were so important? It is not about the dog breath but rather their health. It is surprising to know that a healthy mouth can add 2 years to a pet’s life. When we smell dog breath it tells us there is bad bacteria in the mouth and that chronic infection is hard on your pet’s heart, liver and kidneys.

Everyday in the exam room I see dogs and cats who are suffering in silence because of their dental disease. This is NOT due to any neglect on the part of the owner, rather it is because our pets are masters at hiding issues. So what can you do? Brush your pet’s teeth daily, use Royal Canin Dental diet, use dental chews that are approved by the VOHC, such as Greenies, and have your pet’s teeth examined for hidden disease such as painful tooth reabsorption, periodontal disease or fractured teeth. Also note that many dental issues are hidden below the gum line and thus can only be diagnosed with dental radiographs. So if it is time to have a professional cleaning, and you have made the commitment to having it done, make sure an in depth oral exam AND full mouth radiographs are part of the routine dental maintenance, or else your pet may have clean looking teeth BUT may still have a painful mouth.

DSCN0500Supervision

Pets can be sneaky and they can be fast, as I know first hand after having to deal with Winston gulping down something faster than a blink of an eye. But with supervision I can often catch him and prevent a poisoning, or when he does wolf down something at super-sonic pug speed, because I saw him, I can treat immediately. As a general rule, pets that are closely supervised are far less likely to get into trouble than those who aren’t. A pet that’s allowed to wander off by themselves—especially outdoors—is at a far greater risk for coming in contact with hazardous materials, chemicals, deadly cars, other wild animals, and a whole host of other potential dangers.

Veterinary Check-Ups

Why take my indoor cat to the vet when he looks healthy? The dog is eating so she must be fine. Our pet’s are no different from us humans, except they cannot talk, which actually makes regular physical exams vital for our pets. We go to the doctor and have mammograms or our blood pressure checked to look for hidden diseases that we maybe unaware of. Problems are usually easier and significantly less expensive to deal with when they are small and before they cause secondary issues. I have owners tell me they prefer not to come into the hospital as they do not want to know that their beautiful pet has a problem. Only one little hiccup with that line of thought, the problem is there whether the pet comes in or not. BUT if we diagnose it early we can treat or control BEFORE the pet is sick and BEFORE it becomes a financial burden.
Last year I saw a dog because she had stopped eating. Her mouth was a mess with serious dental disease and now she had a secondary heart disease likely due to the bacteremia from her teeth. Her dental required double the regular staff and she lost 90% of her teeth as they were abscessed. The owner had a hefty bill but the dog ate!!!! If only the dog had exams earlier we could have cleaned the teeth and dealt with problems while they small, saving the owner money, saving the dog years of discomfort.

LifelearnAdmin | Life behind the exam room doors

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