What Does a Healthy Pet Look Like? | PetFirst Pet Insurance
Pet Care & Health

What does a healthy pet look like?

by MetLife Pet Insurance
6 years ago

Your dog runs and plays or your cat chases his tail. Both pets seem healthy, but how do you really know if your pet is a healthy pet?

“There are many factors that go into our pet’s overall health and wellness,” said Joni Lindquist, DVM, veterinarian with Elk Creek Animal Hospital.  “Perhaps the most important place to start is by having your dog or cat examined by their veterinarian at least once a year.”

An annual exam for your pet provides the perfect opportunity to check on their overall health.  Your veterinarian will review their vaccination status, assess their weight and check for any changes in their coat or skin since the last visit.

“An exam by your veterinarian starts as soon as they walk in the room. For example I start by noticing how your pet is interacting both with you as their parent and their reaction to another person entering the area,” said Dr. Lindquist.  “Also, it may look like I am petting your pet, but in actuality, I am feeling for lumps or bumps, or any changes in their body from their previous visit.”

Your veterinarian may also ask you questions about your pet’s eating habits, activity level and waste elimination.  Consider making a list of observations before you go, as well as any questions you have to ask.

“In addition to an annual check-up with your veterinarian, seriously consider having your pet spayed or neutered,” said Dr. Lindquist.  “Spaying or neutering your pet not only helps control the pet population, but also increases your pet’s overall wellness.”

By spaying or neutering your dog or cat, you are reducing their risk for mammary or testicular tumors and uterine infections.  Studies also show that spayed or neutered pets live longer.  When should you spay or neuter your pet?  Any time after 12-weeks of age, the procedure is considered safe.

Other wellness options to consider with your pet:

  • A balanced diet: This can be accomplished by finding the food that works best for your pet and following your veterinarian’s instructions. “Treats in moderation,” warns Dr. Lindquist.  “You can reward your pet with affection, or a new toy.  It doesn’t always have to be a treat – which most contain more fat and sugar than pets need in their diet.”
  • Routine exercise: Or shall we say daily activity.  Pets need to get up and get moving, every day.  For cats, we think this is more difficult to accomplish, but it really isn’t.  Playing with your cat, and encouraging them to jump, chase or roll around will increase their heart rate and blood flow in the body.  For dogs, a walk around the block or fetching their favorite toy up and down the steps is great exercise. By allowing your pet to release their built up energy, they will rest better at the end of the day.
  • Dental care: Your pet’s oral health is very important and should be evaluated annually.  Brushing your pet’s teeth is great (if they will let you), but still your pet’s teeth and mouth need to be examined.  Dental disease can lead to pain, abscesses, and heart problems, not to mention nutritional concerns resulting from your pet not being able to chew and digest their food.
  • Senior Pets: For cats, and most small- and medium-sized dog breeds, pets over the age of 10 are considered senior and have more specific needs as they age.  For some breeds, especially large breed dogs, they can be considered seniors around 7 years of age.  There are steps you can take to improve your pet’s quality of life as they age.  Start by taking them to their veterinarian on a regular basis, annual or even semi-annually.  Your veterinarian can work with you on wellness habits and tips for older dogs and cats.  Bloodwork can help identify problems early, helping to potentially lengthen your pet’s life.  In addition, your veterinarian may recommend a joint supplement or a different diet, since senior pets typically require less calories.  Stay in contact with your veterinarian and inform them of any concerns you may have.

No wellness plan is complete without pet insurance.  By having a pet insurance plan established for your pet at a young age, you can ensure a lifetime of less worry about veterinary expenses and focus your attention on getting your pet back on the path of wellness.  Plans such as the Lifetime Plan cover chronic and hereditary conditions for the life of your pet as long as there isn’t any lapse in coverage.

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