As human beings, we are prone to a lot of diseases and illness. Being health conscious is a trait we have picked up with experience and as a matter of necessity. We understand that prevention is better than cure and this has guided how we eat, live and interact with our environment from day to day.
As it is in human beings, so it is for pets. Like humans, diseases remain a viable threat to the well-being of pets. While advances in science has provided us with treatments for the majority of pet diseases, prevention will always remain the least discomforting and expensive approach to handling diseases in pets.
We consciously strive to improve our health, we also want to make sure our furry companions live long lives, stay healthy, and remain as playful as ever. Good health starts from the inside out. What our pets eat and drink is just as important as their hygiene and grooming routines.
To help your pets stay healthy and disease free, we have put together 7 ways by which you can prevent common ailments they may be exposed to.
- Understand your pet:
For many pet owners, this might sound off. But in real sense, it is one of the most important ways to keep your pet healthy. Too many times, pet owners have missed telltale signs and symptoms of ailments in their pets and have regretted it, sometimes with fatal consequences.
Being able to pick up on minor behavioural changes that may manifest in your pets may be the only saving grace your pets have. In many pet related diseases and infections, early symptom identification and treatment is the only way to save your pooch. Subtle changes in feeding, walking or sleeping patterns may be indications of a potential health situation.
Paying close enough attention to your pet’s habits will help you notice changes in them that may require closer medical examination.
- Maintain a healthy weight:
Consciously maintaining weight keeps your pet healthy, increases life expectancy and reduces the risk of diseases. Many dogs and cats suffer from obesity because of overfeeding and inactivity. The weight of your pet has a direct impact on the quality of life you can expect for them.
If your pet weights over 10%–20% of its ideal weight, it is overweight, above 20% and your pet is obese.
A healthy weight reduces the risk of joint and muscle injuries associated with wright. It also reduces the risk of cancer and heart diseases. Weight loss involves increasing your pet’s activities to allow them burn calories and also being conscious about their dietary intakes especially with calories. It is more difficult to lose weight and easier to gain it so avoid over feeding your pets and ensure they remain active as much as possible.
Vaccines are disease and illness preventive measures. They stimulate the immune system to provide antibodies to a weaker form of a disease intentionally administered for that purpose. The antibodies generated remain in the body for a while to counter the effects of an actual illness reducing reaction time and multiplying capabilities of the bacteria or virus giving the body a boost in handling such diseases.
Vaccines have over time saved millions of lives by lessening the severity of some diseases and preventing some altogether.
For pets, vaccinations provide immunity against diseases and it is important to follow established vaccination schedules. While there are mild and adverse reactions to vaccination, the benefits to your pet outweigh these minor reactions in the short and long-term. Common pet vaccinations include canine distemper, rabies, canine parvovirus, leptospirosis and canine influenza.
- Maintain a Balance diet:
There are lots of nutritious dog foods and treats available. Giving your pets a healthy and balanced meal combination of meats and vegetable can help them stay healthy. A balance diet can provide all the energy and strength they need to fight off diseases and remain healthy.
It is also important to note that not all human foods go well with pets. This is because their body metabolizes foods different from how ours does. Foods like chocolates, onions and garlic are toxic to dogs and may trigger unpleasant and sometimes life threaten reactions.
Pets need lots of water to stay hydrated and maintain bodily functions. As a pet owner, ensure your pet has access to a steady supply of clean and fresh water at all time. Make sure their water bowl is thoroughly washed with soap and is dry before refilling. It is essential to change out their water at least once or twice daily to prevent the growth of algae or bacteria.
- Spaying or Neutering
Spaying is one of the most effective means of population control in pets. It involves the removal certain reproductive organs in pets. Neutering can be done by surgical and non-surgical means so there is minimum discomfort to pets.
Asides from population control, spaying or neutering helps prevent future health concerns that may prove fatal. Uterine cancer, breast cancer, testicular cancer and prostate cancer are examples of possible health concerns eliminated by spaying.
It is advisable to speak to your veterinarian when considering spaying as it can sometimes lead to urinary incontinence and some types of cancer. As with any surgical procedure, sterilization is prioritized and the possibility of short or long term complications is low.
- Regular Bathe and Grooming
Grooming your pets regularly comes with a lot of benefits. Apart from personal hygiene, it also helps you as a pet owner inspect your pet’s physical condition. Daily brushings can reveal lice infestations or open cuts you never knew your pet had.
A bath is also a perfect opportunity to spot skin related issues and infections as the hair when wet, lies down, given you a skin surface view of your pet.
The number of times you bathe your pet depends on their skin condition. Bathing pets with no prior skin issues is more detrimental than beneficial to their health as it can lead to dry skin. A healthy cat or dog does not need a bath more than once or twice a month. However, a dog suffering from lice or flea infections will require a bath 3 – 4 times a week with shampoo and consistent grooming to rid it off lice.
Maintaining a high level of personal hygiene for your pets makes them presentable and prevents the possibility of pet to human disease transmissions.
Please note that none of these methods listed above is a substitute for a visit to a veterinarian and a good check-up. As soon as you notice any adverse reactions, conditions or behaviours, please seek medical attention.