Many people resolve to diet, exercise, and save money when a new year begins. This year, set some resolutions for your pet. You still have time to set your furry pal’s health goals for 2023. Our Creature Comforts Veterinary Service team wants your pet’s year to be great, and we provide resolutions to keep your four-legged friend happy and healthy all year long—and beyond.
Resolve to schedule regular wellness care for your pet
Your pet shares many of their ancestors’ instincts, which can cause them to hide vulnerabilities such as illness and pain. Many pets don’t show illness signs until their disease is advanced, which can negatively impact their prognosis. Annual wellness care is important to help your veterinarian detect these issues in their early stages when they are typically easier to treat. If your pet is a senior, they should see your veterinarian at least twice per year because they have an increased illness risk. At your pet’s next wellness visit, your veterinarian will likely perform the following:
- History — Our veterinary team asks you to provide information about your pet’s activities and behavior since they were last examined. Factors such as their eating habits, sleeping patterns, activity level, and bathroom behavior give us insight into their health.
- Weight status — We accurately weigh your pet and assess their body condition score (BCS) and muscle condition score (MCS) to determine their weight status. If your pet is overweight, we will devise a safe weight-loss plan, and if they are underweight, we may recommend further diagnostics to determine the reason.
- Physical examination — We assess your pet from head to tail to check for abnormalities that may indicate a health problem. Potential conditions include cataracts, dental disease, swollen lymph nodes, and heart arrhythmias or murmurs.
- Complete blood count (CBC) — Our veterinary team performs a CBC to assess your pet’s overall health and detect conditions such as infections, anemia, and clotting disorders.
- Biochemistry profile — We perform a biochemistry profile to assess several body systems to detect conditions such as diabetes, electrolyte abnormalities, kidney disease, and liver dysfunction.
- Urinalysis — Your pet’s urine can tell us a lot about their health, and our veterinary team performs a urinalysis to detect conditions such as diabetes, urinary stones, kidney disease, and urinary tract infections.
- Parasite detection — Our veterinary team performs a fecal check and heartworm test to check for parasites such as roundworms, whipworms, hookworms, coccidia, Giardia, and heartworms.
- Vaccinations — Your pet’s annual wellness visit is a great time to ensure their vaccines are up-to-date so they are protected from dangerous infectious pathogens.
Resolve to provide year-round parasite prevention to your pet
Parasites are ubiquitous in our environment. Your pet is an easy target, and they can experience significant health issues if they contract a parasitic infection. All pets, including those who live solely indoors, should receive year-round parasite prevention medication to protect them from parasites such as:
- Heartworms — Spread by infected mosquitoes, heartworms can cause a pet to develop congestive heart failure. These parasites can also significantly damage a pet’s lung tissue.
- Ticks — Ticks, such as the American dog tick, black-legged tick, and lone star tick, can transmit diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis.
- Fleas — If a small pet—including puppies and kittens—experience a heavy flea infestation, they can develop severe anemia. These parasites can also transmit diseases such as plague and cat-scratch fever. In addition, many pets are allergic to flea saliva, leading to flea bite dermatitis—an extremely problematic skin condition.
- Intestinal parasites — Intestinal parasites, such as roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms, can leach nutrients and cause pets significant gastrointestinal issues. Many flea, tick, and heartworm preventives also protect your pet from these dangerous parasites.
Resolve to provide regular dental care for your pet
Dental disease affects most pets by the time they are 3 years of age. The harmful bacteria that cause the condition get under your pet’s gumline and damage their teeth’s supporting structures, leading to issues such as bad breath, swollen and bleeding gums, loose and missing teeth, and tooth root infections. Dental disease can lead to a small pet’s jawbone fracture. In addition, if the bacteria enter their bloodstream, they can damage your pet’s heart, kidneys, and liver. Ensure your pet’s mouth stays healthy by following these tips:
- Scheduling professional veterinary dental cleanings — Professional veterinary dental procedures are the only effective way to remove damaging bacteria from under your pet’s gumline. Your veterinarian should assess your pet’s oral health at least once per year to determine if your four-legged friend needs a professional dental cleaning. Keep in mind that some pets, such as small-breed pets and brachycephalic pets, may need more frequent professional dental evaluation. To ensure our veterinary team can perform a thorough dental cleaning and to prevent your pet from experiencing stress or discomfort, your furry pal will be anesthetized during the procedure. Your veterinarian will also take dental X-rays, which are essential to fully evaluating your pet’s oral health.
- Brushing your pet’s teeth — Plaque can start to accumulate on your pet’s teeth shortly after a professional veterinary dental cleaning, so daily toothbrushing is necessary to remove this sticky substance. Gradually introduce your pet to toothbrushing to help them become accustomed to the process, and use veterinary-approved products, because human dental products are not safe for pets.
You still have time to make your pet’s New Year’s health resolutions for 2023 to help ensure their next 12 months are great. Schedule your pet’s wellness examination or professional veterinary dental cleaning with our Creature Comforts Veterinary Service team, and we will help them stay happy and healthy all year long—and beyond.