- Regular visits to your veterinarian: Just as the American Dental Association has recommended regular dental check-ups for people for many years, the American Animal Hospital Association – American Veterinary Medical Association Canine and Feline Preventive Healthcare Guidelines recommend veterinary examinations at least annually. For many pets, more frequent visits may be appropriate based on their individual needs. These examinations provide the opportunity for early detection of disease and to prevent illness. Remember that with the shorter lifespan of pets, a year or even 6 months is a much more significant time period than it is for people. In addition, pets can’t communicate directly with us about how they feel or even if they are in pain, so veterinary examinations commonly reveal unseen problems.
- Mind the temperature: While we aren’t in the hottest period of the year yet, heat stoke is a potential problem year-round in Tampa. Unlike people, dogs can’t control their body temperature by sweating since they only have a small number of sweat glands located in their footpads. Their primary way of regulating body temperature is by panting. It is important to make sure that dogs have frequent access to shade and water whether they are in the backyard or on a walk with you. Also remember that heavy exercise in any dog and even limited activity in flat-faced dogs such as pugs, boxers and bulldogs can increase that risk of heat stroke.
- Ask your veterinarian for free advice: In years past pet owners called their veterinarian when they had questions about their pets. These days, pet owners often turn to the internet for pet care advice instead. As with any topic, there is very good information regarding the care of pets on the web, but there is also a lot of misinformation as well. It is increasingly common for animal hospitals to have websites that include lots of great information about general and health care of pets often through subscription to libraries of pet care articles. In addition, most veterinarians and their staff members are still very happy to provide advice and answer your questions over the phone for free.
- An ounce of prevention….: Prevention of health problems in pets takes many forms. Some of these are pretty obvious like preventing viral and bacterial infections with vaccinations and monthly preventative medications for internal (worms) and external (fleas and ticks) parasites. However, some others are also very important, but less obvious such as preventing behavioral problems (the #1 reason pets are euthanized) with early training and the prevention of stress on the family budget from an unexpected illness or injury by purchasing pet health insurance. You veterinarian is the best source of information on each of these.
- You are what you eat: This proverb applies to pets too in that diet-related problems consistently rank among the most common reasons pets visit veterinarians each year. These problems include too many calories and less-than-ideal diets which show as most pets in America being overweight and an increase in pet diabetes and osteoarthritis in recent years. Self-proclaimed natural, superior-ingredient diets that are long on marketing and short on science are also a big problem today. Once again, your veterinarian has the information you need to make the best choices for your pet.
Top 5 Ways to Keep Your Dog Healthy in Tampa
By Link V. Welborn, DVM, DABVP