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If you want a healthy, happy pet, the key is in preventing medical and behavioural problems.  This article deals with medical prevention as I have done separate articles for preventing behavioural problems. 

How can you keep your pet healthy?

  • Nutrition:
    • A good high quality veterinary recommended diet.
    • Feed the appropriate amount to prevent obesity and the costs of extra food and medical costs that go along with an obese pet.
    • Measure the amount you feed.  Use a measuring cup not a yogurt or margarine container! 
    • If your pet is not eating well or seems overly hungry, ask your veterinarian to check that your pet is well.
    • Meal feeding – dogs 2 meals a day;  cats 3 – 4 small meals/day is ideal.  The exception would be if you are in a Leadership Training program or have a young pet.  Recommendations will differ in those situations. 
    • Change the amount you feed based on the body condition of the pet per your veterinarian’s recommendations.  Have them teach you how to body score at home.
    • Feed a diet that is for the life stage and type of cat/dog.  Puppy or kitten food for young pets, adult food for adults, large breed food for large dogs.  Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations. 
    • Remember that the pet’s calorie requirement will decrease starting as early as 6 months.  For most pets, you will need to reduce the amount of food starting at about 6 months of age to prevent obesity.
    • Remember to reduce your pets’ food on days when they get less exercise!  A 10% reduction on couch potato days is recommended.
  • Vaccinations:
    • Ensure your pet gets routine vaccinations and examinations.  The cost of vaccines is way less (by thousands often) than the cost of treating the disease.  There is also the risk that your pet might not survive. 
  • Exercise your pet:
    • Dogs need at least 40 minutes of exercise/day and cats need 2-3, 5 minute play sessions.  This is discussed further in the ‘Fun Things’ article and ‘Preventing Behavioural Problems Articles’.
    • Exercise safely avoiding hard surfaces like roads/concrete.
    • Avoid exercise at the hottest time of day and watch carefully to avoid heat stroke in any warm climate.
    • Protect your pet from winter weather or do more indoor exercise during the winter.
    • Ask your veterinarian what is acceptable for your pet and his/her health level.
  • Deworm as recommended by your veterinarian.
  • Use heartworm, flea and tick products as recommended by your veterinarian.
  • Brush your pet’s teeth (see website recommendation below for more information).
  • Trim your pet’s nails once/month.
  • Brush your pet’s coat as needed to avoid mats.
  • Deal with medical problems promptly.  Try to find a diagnosis as often this is better for the pet than trying treatments for the symptoms.
  • Watch your pet closely:
    • watch for changes in drinking
    • changes in appetite
    • changes in energy level
    • vomiting
    • changes in stool consistency (too hard, too soft, runny, bloody etc.)
    • watch for changes in urination
    • watch for changes in behaviour
    • watch for lumps, bumps or itchy skin

Early intervention is always best so if you notice a change, see your veterinarian.

You may have noticed that this article is very similar to the section in the ‘Money & Your Pet Article’.   Prevention saves a lot of money!  I would estimate that about 75% of the pet illnesses we see in a veterinary clinic are preventable with good care. 

So, take good care and then you will have done your best for your pet to avoid problems! 

Thanks for your interest. 

Dr. Liana Mawer