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Spring into Good Health: Preventative Care for Pets

An ounce of prevention can go a long way.

If you’re like many dog and cat owners, your pets are like children, and observing them suffering from an injury or illness is downright excruciating. After all, we want our pets to enjoy a similar level of happiness as they bring to our lives.

While we’ll ultimately never have total control over ensuring health and well-being for our canines and felines, the preventative care measures you take can have a profound effect on everything from extending your pet’s lifespan to reducing your annual veterinary expenditures. It’s no guarantee your dog or cat will enjoy being a longterm model of perfect health, but preventative care produces more predictable outcomes.

It’s estimated that U.S. pet owners spent $15.73 billion on veterinary care in 2015 – equating to an average of several hundred dollars of vet expenses for each owner. But money aside, you simply want your beloved four-legged companion to remain healthy enough to enjoy everything life has to offer an enthusiastic canine or inquisitive feline.

There is no better time than the present to assess the preventative care you’re offering your dog or cat. Here are eight proactive steps you can take as a pet owner:

1. Have Your Pet Eat Right

As the saying goes, you are what you eat – and the same is true of your furry family member. Proper pet nutrition provides a foundation for everything from strong bones to healthy skin and disease prevention. Feed your dog or cat a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet and limit your pet’s snack intake. While purchasing premium pet food requires you to incur a larger upfront cost, the longterm health benefits associated with your pet’s nutrition will likely result in reduced veterinary expenses.

2. Pet-Proof Your Home

Having your dog or cat roam through a non-pet-proofed environment is akin to wandering through an active minefield. Take the time to ensure your pet is safe at home by storing all potentially toxic household products (medicines, fertilizes, cleaning agents, etc.) in secure places. Observe your pet’s exploration habits and learn to anticipate common household items – like electric wires, plants, and human food – that need to be kept out of reach. By achieving a pet-proof home now, you’ll prevent the need for a frantic trip to the animal hospital later.

3. Keep Your Pet’s Vaccines Current

A pet that’s up-to-date on vaccinations is much less susceptible to parasites and diseases. Don’t let your dog or cat fall victim to an ailment that modern immunizations could’ve prevented. One of the best ways to ensure your pet stays current with vaccinations involves scheduling regular vet checkups, since wellness exams serve as the cornerstone of effective preventative care. Whenever you schedule your own annual checkup, consider booking a vet visit for your beloved companion as well.

4. Seek Pet Insurance

It’s a pet owner’s worst nightmare: Your dog or cat gets sick or injured and you’re faced with the agonizing choice of incurring huge veterinary bills you can’t afford or putting your pet to sleep. Fortunately, more owners are discovering reasonably-priced pet health insurance, which can help pay for emergency care and other unexpected health expenses. Is this option right for you? It’s in your pet’s best interest to find out.

5. Keep Your Pet Fit

The problem of pet obesity is very real. Overweight dogs and cats are more prone to conditions ranging from diabetes to heart disease and joint damage. Furthermore, studies indicate that keeping your pet at a healthy weight can extend his lifespan considerably. In addition to feeding your four-legged friend a healthy diet, serve as your pet’s unofficial personal trainer. Twice-daily walks for your dog and regular play sessions with your cat often prove to be just what the doctor ordered for maintaining fit pets.

6. Spay/Neuter Your Pet

When it comes to spaying/neutering your dog or cat, the benefits extend beyond simply helping to reduce pet overpopulation. Neutering typically decreases a male pet’s tendency to roam in search of mates. As a result, your dog or cat is less exposed to risks ranging from fighting with other pets to getting hit by a car. From a preventative care standpoint, spaying/neutering decreases unwanted pregnancies in female pets and prostate issues in their male counterparts.

7. Brush Your Pet’s Teeth

One telltale sign of proper health in a dog or cat is the presence of shiny white teeth and clean gums. By brushing your pet’s teeth on a weekly basis, you help reduce tarter accumulation, which in turn can prevent periodontal disease – a progressive condition that can lead to gum decay, infection, and organ damage. When you couple regular brushing with periodic professional dental cleanings for your pet, you reduce or eliminate the need for advanced periodontal treatment, which can cost thousands of dollars.

8. Groom Your Pet Regularly

Not only does regular grooming relax a pet and offer human-animal bonding time, but it also affords the owner an opportunity to inspect the pet for overall health. This type of inspection can address problems ranging from lumps and cuts to ticks, skin conditions, dirty ears, and eye health. Commit to following a regular grooming schedule for your dog or cat and you’re taking a major step toward providing preventative care and love – both of which are important to your pet’s well-being.