Owning a pet is one of life’s greatest joys, but this delight comes with a great deal of responsibility. Ensuring your pet remains healthy and happy throughout their life requires regular wellness and preventive care. Our team at Valley Center Veterinary Clinic shares five ways to keep your pet healthy. 

#1: Spay or neuter your pet

Spaying or neutering your pet not only supports their health but also prevents accidental litters and limits pet overpopulation. Spaying and neutering help protect your pet from serious health problems, including life-threatening reproductive cancers and inappropriate behavior, adding years to your furry pal’s life. Spaying and neutering are part of responsible pet ownership, so schedule your pet’s procedure or contact our team if you have any questions. 

#2: Protect your pet from parasites year-round

Many people are shocked to know that many parasites, including fleas, ticks, and intestinal parasites, can withstand harsh weather. While they thrive during warmer months, adult fleas can survive temperatures in the low 30s, and their pupae can tolerate freezing levels. You can prevent the problems associated with fleas, ticks, heartworms, and intestinal parasites by giving your pet year-round preventive medications prescribed by our veterinary team. 

#3: Microchip your pet 

Losing a pet is a heartbreaking experience no pet owner should endure. Fortunately, by having your pet microchipped, you significantly improve the chances of reuniting with your furry pal should they get lost. A microchip is a tiny device, about the size of a rice grain, that our Valley Center Veterinary Clinic team implants just under a pet’s skin, typically between the shoulder blades. The chip contains a unique identification number linked to a database, with details about your pet and your contact information. Unlike identification tags on your pet’s collar, a microchip can’t be removed or lost. When a veterinary clinic or an animal shelter has your lost pet, the staff scans them for a microchip, which contains your contact information, and you and your pet can be reunited. 

#4: Prioritize your pet’s dental health

Nearly 70% of pets have some form of dental disease by age 3, which can have negative consequences for their overall health. When your pet eats, oral bacteria combine with food particles to form a sticky film (i.e., plaque) on their teeth. If the plaque is not removed within a few days, the substance hardens into cement-like tartar, trapping bacteria in and around the gumline. Dental disease occurs when the bacteria begin damaging a tooth’s supporting structures, and your pet experiences pain, infection, and inflammation, and ultimately, bone and tooth loss. In severe cases, bacteria enter the bloodstream, and permanently damage a pet’s kidneys, liver, and heart. If left untreated, dental disease can become severe and require costly professional treatment. Protect your pet’s oral health by following these tips:

  • Bring in your pet for a professional dental exam annually — Your pet’s teeth and gums should be examined by your veterinarian annually to check for early dental disease signs.
  • Brush your pet’s teeth — Brush your pet’s teeth daily, or at least three times per week, using pet-safe toothpaste. 
  • Give your pet dental chews — Dental chews are a great way to loosen tartar buildup. Give your pet dental chews that carry the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) Seal of Acceptance.
  • Consider water additives — Water additives do not replace daily brushing, but they are tasteless and odorless, and can freshen your pet’s breath while protecting them from tooth decay.

#5: Manage your pet’s weight

Obesity is a serious problem that can worsen many health issues or increase your pet’s risk for developing certain conditions, including heart disease, respiratory disorders, endocrine diseases (e.g., diabetes, Cushing’s disease, hypothyroidism), skin infections, and bladder stones. To help your pet reach a healthy weight and maintain it, follow these tips:

  • Schedule regular wellness examinations — Schedule regular wellness examinations, so your veterinarian can assess your pet’s weight, track changes, and suggest an appropriate diet and exercise program. 
  • Measure your pet’s food — Use a measuring cup or a gram scale to measure your pet’s food amount accurately.
  • Limit treats — Treats should account for no more than 10% of your pet’s daily caloric intake. 
  • Exercise your pet — Exercise your pet daily to help them stay fit and healthy.

Preventive care is key to your pet’s long-term health, and regular wellness visits can prevent or identify issues before they become serious. Take a proactive approach to your pet’s health by scheduling their wellness exam with our Valley Center Veterinary Clinic team.