You probably have a yearly health plan for you and your family. Have you considered doing the same for your pet? You can prevent many illnesses and injuries when you have a comprehensive plan to make sure your pet stays healthy throughout the year. Plus, a good plan keeps you on track for what your pet needs and when.
One way to ensure good care for your pet is the annual wellness exam, which serves as the best way to prevent future disease and illness. Veterinarians are very busy these days, so it’s essential to get your appointment for your pet’s yearly exam as soon as possible. The frequency and protocols of these wellness exams vary depending on your pet’s age and physical condition.
Puppies need frequent exams between the ages of 8 and 16 weeks to strengthen their immature immune system. During each visit, your vet will ensure he is growing as he should and receiving the necessary vaccinations. Parasite control is another important part of his early visits. If you have or are thinking of getting a puppy, keep up with these visits to ensure he is prepared to face a world filled with contagions.
Vaccinations protect your puppy from hazardous diseases like rabies, distemper, parvovirus, and Bordetella, all of which can result in serious illness and death. These shots are administered in progressive strength increments over a period of weeks to keep from overwhelming his fragile system.
A similar procedure of frequent vet visits and care is also necessary for kittens. The vaccinations they need to be strong, protected, and healthy include rabies, distemper, leukemia, and feline immunodeficiency virus. Again, these are all serious illnesses that can seriously shorten a kitten’s life.
Adult Pet Annual Wellness and Early Detection Program
Used as a baseline, the first of these annual visits for your adult pet provides a yardstick for any future health and disease issues that may arise. It allows the vet to catch a problem before it requires significant and costly treatment. The annual visit for the adult pet should include:
- Complete annual exam
- Dental assessment
- Nutritional and behavioral assessment and counseling
- Protective vaccinations
- Blood panel
- Urine analysis
- Heartworm test
Senior Pet Health Program
The sad truth is that our pets live much shorter lives than we do. However, with proper and comprehensive preventive care, their years can be extended. Your senior pet requires more frequent visits to the vet and testing for senior onset issues, including kidney failure, liver disease, thyroid disease, heart disease, and tumors. If caught early, many medications can stem the progress of these disorders and illnesses.
Nothing is more devastating than to have a sick or injured pet when your vet is not open and then not know where to take your suffering pet. Set up a plan now. Find your local emergency animal care facility, familiarize yourself with how to get there, put their phone number in your wallet, adhere to your refrigerator, or best yet, both.
The point of entry for your pet’s body is his mouth, which, besides food, includes bacteria, viruses, and other contagions. A pet’s gums can become infected by age 2, so a visual examination of teeth and gums should occur during the annual wellness exam. These annual checks of teeth and gums determine if your pet needs further treatment, which in turn will help keep him healthy overall.
Flea, Tick, and Heartworm Protection
Your pet needs to be protected against fleas, ticks, and heartworm, all of which can cause serious illness if they invade your pet’s system. Fleas carry tapeworms and possibly even bubonic plague. Some pets can have a severe allergic reaction to flea bites, for which they will need treatment. Ticks are most known for the illnesses Lyme Disease, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, both of which can be very dangerous. Finally, heartworm disease is caused by mosquitos that deposit live heartworm larvae under the skin of the pet through a bite. The worms then travel through the pet, settling in the lungs and heart. This is a serious disease that can result in death if not properly and quickly treated.
A good plan is to schedule your pet’s annual exam early in the spring when you can purchase both flea and tick and heartworm medications.
Exercise and Nutrition
Here’s where you really need to know and understand your pet. High-energy dogs will need more exercise and foods that will support their bursts of energy. Low energy, obese, and older pets need fewer and shorter exercise sessions and foods to support their age and energy level. Your best bet is to make your pet’s nutritional and exercise needs a priority and work with your vet to develop the best plan for him.
Does your dog have some behavioral issues that are annoying or perhaps even more serious? Make this the year you focus on training. Sign him up for a class or pay for a trainer to come to your home. Or maybe it’s a matter of knowing what to do, but you haven’t been diligent about holding regular training sessions with your dog. The investment in time and money is well worth it. Do both of yourselves a favor and work on whatever training issues lurk. Both you and your dog will have a renewed and happier relationship.
Are you planning any vacations this year? If so, you don’t want to wait until the last minute to make arrangements for your pet. Slots in boarding facilities fill fast and if you usually opt for in-home care, either in yours or someone else’s, get on the caretaker’s calendar now.
As choruses of Happy New Year echo and New Year’s resolutions steal the headlines, do be sure and include a healthy and organized plan for your pet in 2022.