Preventive Care Tips to Help Keep Your Dogs and Cats Healthy for Life

Want to help your pet live a healthier life? Well, one of the keys to success is preventive care. It can help prevent some diseases, as well as help you and your vet catch many problems earlier, which may improve your pet’s prognosis.

So how do you do that? We’ve got expert advice for making preventive care a priority, from scheduling regular veterinary visits to learning how to feed your pet the right way.

How to Help Keep Your Pet Healthy for Life

Cat getting veterinary exam


Schedule a Wellness Exam

We know there’s a lot on your to-do list, but you shouldn’t wait until your pet shows signs of pain or illness to take him to the vet. Call your veterinarian now and schedule your animal’s physical exam for a time that’s convenient for you. The biggest plus of taking your dog or cat to the veterinarian for regular checkups is that your vet can sometimes detect health issues before they become big (and potentially more serious) problems. If your pet is fearful of visiting the vet, don’t let that discourage you; Dr. Marty Becker has some great advice on helping your pet learn to love the vet.

Dog getting teeth brushed


Brush Up on Brushing Your Pet's Teeth

Here’s an upsetting fact: More than 85 percent of cats and dogs over 4 years old are affected by periodontal disease, which, if left untreated, can lead to bad breath, difficulty eating, gum recession and tooth loss. Furthermore, the bacteria associated with dental disease can travel in the bloodstream and infect the organs — potentially causing serious complications.

Your best defense against dental disease is to get your pet’s teeth professionally cleaned by a veterinarian and to brush his teeth daily. If you’ve never brushed your pet’s teeth before, the key is to start off slowly and gradually work your way up to regularly brushing his teeth.

Dog getting flea and tick preventive


Stock Up on Parasite Preventive

We know it’s winter, and it seems unlikely that fleas, ticks, mosquitoes or other parasites could pose a threat to pets this time of year. But contrary to popular belief, parasites are a year-round problem. Skipping a few months of preventive medication because it’s cold outside or to make your supply last longer is not worth the risk. Believe us, it’s much easier to give your animal a parasite preventive than it is to rid your house of a flea infestation.

Cat playing with feather toy


Get Moving

Exercise has numerous health and mental benefits for cats and dogs: It can help them channel excess energy, prevent boredom, stay in shape and provide mental stimulation. As an added benefit, exercising with your pet can help boost your health. It’s a win-win for everyone! But don’t use bad weather as an excuse for not exercising; check out these fun indoor activities for dogs and cats.

Dog with food and water bowls


Feed Your Pet the Right Way

Obesity isn’t just a human epidemic — it’s affecting our pets, too. It’s estimated that more than 52 percent of dogs and cats are overweight or obese. Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to prevent your animal from becoming a part of that staggering statistic. First, consult your veterinarian about your pet’s diet and ask how much and how often you should feed him. Next, try to cut back on the treats and snacks — those calories can add up quickly. Finally, stop giving him your leftovers — it won’t do his waistline any favors and only encourages more begging from the table.

Cat getting nails trimmed


Start a Grooming Routine

Grooming isn’t just about beauty — regularly brushing, trimming and bathing your pet can help you detect lumps, bumps, parasites and other potential skin problems. Plus, your animal will appreciate having a tangle- and mat-free coat. We bet you’ll appreciate it, too.

Dog being bandaged


Prepare for Emergencies

Accidents can happen to any pet, but if you familiarize yourself with common emergencies like heatstroke, poisoning and choking, you may be able to lower the chance of them happening to your animal. It’s also a good idea to have a pet first-aid kit handy. Watch this short, informational video from Dr. Sarah Wooten about the first-aid supplies every pet owner should have.

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