There are several simple and inexpensive things that pet owners can do to extend a dog or cat's life.
Brush you pet's teeth routinely. A toothbrush and a pet friendly tooth paste costs less than $15. It is best to start this practice when your dog or cat is young. It is a wonderful way to help prevent the build up of plaque on your companion's teeth and reduce periodontal disease. Dental disease is the number one undetected illness for both dogs and cats. Infection in the mouth is not only painful but can also lead to illness elsewhere in the body. This routine effort is great for you buddy's comfort and longevity. It will also save you money by resulting in less involved and potentially less frequent dental cleanings.
Look at a your companion often. Develop a sense of what is normal for him or her in terms of energy, appetite, food/water consumption, etc. This will help you to know at the earliest point when something is wrong. Feel for lumps and bumps, and have them evaluated by a veterinarian. Routinely groom your pet to keep his or her coat clean and healthy. Clean the ears with ear cleaner at least monthly to prevent infection or catch it in the early stages. And keep his or her nails at a good length, about even with the footpads.
Feed a pet store quality dry food and stay away from canned food, soft treats, and people food for your pets. Soft foods and treats leave a residue on your pet's teeth, can contribute to extra calories that may not give any nutritional benefit, and are costly. Home cooked meals may sound good; but are expensive and difficult to keep nutritionally well balanced. It is easier to provide good nutrition and keep your pet's weight balanced and teeth in better health in a cost effective way with a pet store quality dry food.
Exercise is important for your pet, just like it is in people. It only costs you time to walk your dog or take him/her to the park. Many dogs enjoy a game of fetch. Cats can be trained to walk on a leash, or chase a favorite toy or laser light. This will not only help to maintain a healthy weight for your buddy; but it will increase your bond. Contact with animals has been shown to decrease stress, improve blood pressure, and increase longevity for people.
Check a fecal sample at least once a year, and make sure it is sent out to a laboratory. This is one of the few tests usually costs under $25. It not only helps to protect your pet's health; but your family's as well. Your dog or cat's poop can look normal, and yet still contain worms. Some of these parasites can be spread from your animals to you. To help prevent the spread of worms, don't let your buddy lick you on the mouth; and make sure you wash your hands after handling your companion, and before eating.
Run a heartworm test annually and keep your buddy on monthly heartworm preventative. A heartworm test is a blood test that is often paired with other things and costs around $25. Heartworm disease is spread to dogs and cats through mosquito bites, and it can be deadly. For cats there is no treatment, and for dogs the therapy uses a form of arsenic. Treatment for canines is both risky and expensive.
Keep your buddy on monthly quality flea control year round. This routine expense will save you money in the long run, and prevent health problems for your companion. Fleas can spread illness to animals and people. When pets eat fleas they can get Tapeworm. Many dogs and cats are allergic to fleas, and one bite can create a huge allergic reaction that requires medical treatment. For every flea that you see on your pet, there can be around 100 in the environment. Many companies that have there products sold through veterinarians offer a guarantee that includes pest control services if the products don’t work. This is only honored when sold through a veterinarian, and used on all pets as directed.
Keep a collar with current contact information on each and every dog or cat. Keep them all microchipped as well. These are the best ways to increase the chance that a lost companion will be returned home.
Keep you pet's inoculations current. This will go a long way towards keeping them healthy. Many hospitals offer vaccination specials to help protect your wallet. Our clinic offers a program called Vaccines for Life, which includes all adult core vaccines for a pet for its lifetime for $99. Vaccine clinics exist as well. These are not a good source for medical care; but are preferred to giving your own inoculations. Feed stores may not use proper handling of vaccines, or give you materials to keep products cold during transport. Routine vaccinations are important for all pets, indoors and outdoors, regardless of age, unless advised against by a veterinarian.
The examination that goes with the vaccine is often an unrecognized value. The guidance your veterinarian provides can help to add quality and quantity to your companion’s life.