“While some vets may be better than average in keeping up with their pet’s oral care, not all are as dedicated as they should be,” according to Dr. Murray. “Tartar formation and gingivitis can lead to significant dental diseases such as tooth loss, abscesses and infections of the jawbone, particularly in dogs,” adds Dr. Grzyb, “making preventive oral care very crucial.”
Try cleaning your pet’s teeth at home if you can — even brushing with wet gauze will work — and get your pet’s teeth checked every six months or so, says Dr. Murray. You can also talk to your vet about oral care products, from toothbrushes and toothpastes to foods and treats, that will help keep your pet’s teeth and gums clean.
Mental Health and Companionship
While our pets may not get as much stimulation as we do, good mental health is as important for our animals as it is to us.
“It’s important to think about how to enhance your pet’s mental life and make sure they’re stimulated,” Dr. DeClementi says. “They’ve been domesticated for a long time, but in the wild they’d be hunting and chasing their food and doing different things. Altering their environment helps change things up.”
Stimulate your pet with interactive treat toys, exercise or a ride in the car and experiment with different things like food dispensers, water fountains or puzzle toys to keep them motivated. Just make sure your pet has the proper identification tags on them at all times and is micro chipped before heading somewhere new. And one of the best ways to keep your pet stimulated? Plenty of love and attention from their owners.
“Love, affection and bonding time is very important in supporting your animal’s quality of life,” Dr. Grzyb says, “and is probably the most important aspect of their health.”
Although veterinarians get busy with work and their personal lives (just like we do!), many are vigilant about their pet’s preventative care because they understand its importance from firsthand experience.
“We see the animals that have severe health problems, Dr. Murray says, “which makes vets good about flea, tick and heartworm prevention, vaccinating their pets and keeping their pets at a healthy weight.”
Understanding the effects of obesity, heartworm and certain diseases that can be prevented by vaccinations and keeping up with check-ups and preventative care will help your pet live a long, healthy life. Dr. Murray also recommends spaying or neutering your pet in order to reduce their chances of testicular and breast cancer or prostate and uterus infections.
“Because our pets don’t always tell us when they aren’t feeling well,” Dr. DeClementi says, “bringing your dog or cat to the veterinarian on a yearly basis will allow your doctor to check their teeth, hearts and immunization records for any signs of concern. As your pet ages, your veterinarian may recommend seeing your dog or cat more than once a year and running basic blood work to monitor kidney and liver function at these appointments. They can also refer you to a veterinary specialist, should there be an issue with your pet’s health.
“Veterinary surgeons, dermatologists and oncologists all exist and can help quickly diagnose a problem and get to the issue faster,” Dr. Murray says. “If a pet is struggling with a health problem, they can ask for a referral to a specialist rather than go to another general veterinarian for a second opinion. A lot of people don’t realize that specialists exist for pets.”
Image: mtr / via Shutterstock
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The hollow bodily organ that holds the embryo and fetus and provides nourishment; only found in female animals.
A medical condition in which the gums become inflamed