Willpower and wellness
New year resolutions for your pet
By Dr. Gerald Bellin, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
There could not be a better New Year’s resolution than to lose weight and be healthy. Right? For our pets to follow this resolution, it is up to us as pet parents. You provide the will power to feed a healthy diet, reduce those treats, encourage exercise, and maintain a healthy wellness program for your furry kids.
Wellness care is the basis to promote healthy pets and prolong life expectancy. The largest part of wellness is performing a physical examination. We recommend exams for both your canine and feline companions, once a year when young and twice a year once they have reached 5-6 years or older. A physical examination allows hands on evaluation of your beloved family member, resulting in more likelihood of noticing potential signs of illness early on. Even sooner than you would see signs on your own, at home.
Another large part of maintaining a healthy pet is vaccinations and screening for common diseases endangering our pets. Screening tests will include fecal exams for intestinal parasites and blood work for Lyme disease, heartworm, feline leukemia, and feline immunodeficiency virus.
Also, blood testing for organ function on a yearly schedule may show trending values, allowing your veterinarian to detect organ or metabolic diseases prior to presenting symptoms seen late in a disease process. This early testing allows for earlier treatment and intervention, hence prolonging your pets time of giving unconditional love to the family.
Vaccinations are also essential for maintaining a healthy pet. Those vaccines that we recommend for every pet are called “core” vaccines. Core vaccines include rabies and distemper for both dogs and cats, and feline leukemia for young cats and kittens. Other vaccinations, such as lyme (Borrelia), bordetella, influenza for dogs, and leukemia in cats over two years old are dependent on your pet’s circumstances. If you question whether your loved one should have these vaccinations, contact your veterinarian.
Step two in your New Year’s resolution is weight loss or even maintaining a healthy weight. This can be a difficult task in winter. Diet is probably the most important aspect in weight management, followed by exercise.
Maintaining a well balanced diet for our pets and consideration to not overfeed is critical to their nutritional management. In other words, table scraps, high protein, or grain-free diets may not be balanced, nor the proper diet regimen. The amount fed is more important and should be based on the healthy weight of our pets, not their current weight. This is especially important if they are overweight already.
Along with diet comes exercise in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. As we know very well, exercise is healthy for all.
Next week, Dr. Knabe and Cassie – one of our certified veterinary technicians – will elaborate on exercise routines outdoor and indoor for the cold weather.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.