It’s 2017 and time to kick start into a healthy new year! Maintaining a healthy life style is just as important for pets as it is for humans. Did you know it’s estimated 44 percent of cat owners and 18 percent of dog owners do not take their pets to regular veterinary visits? How about 50 percent of the US pet population is overweight or obese? Or 8 out of 10 pets over the age of 3 years old have some form of dental disease? Our Tampa Bay veterinarian wants to keep you and your pet on the right track to a happy and healthy 2017 with a few helpful tips.
Routine Physical Examinations and Wellness Bloodwork
At River Mill Animal Hospital, we believe in the power of prevention. A twice a year complete physical exam and yearly bloodwork are the two main elements of a preventive care plan. Our doctor will fully examine your pet including vitals (temperature, heart rate, and respiratory rate), full skin exam including scoping the ear canals, eye exam for early cataract detection, oral exam to check for dental disease, careful evaluation of the abdomen for organ placement and size, a full joint and muscle exam to detect signs of arthritis or lack of mobility, as well as listening to the chest for any abnormal heart or lung sounds.
Wellness bloodwork is secondary to the physical exam. This helpful tool can diagnose early stages of kidney, liver, or thyroid disease, as well as other medical conditions before they become a major complication. We base the type of panel on your pet’s specific needs, for example age, medical history, or medication usage. Once blood results return our doctor will evaluate and inform you on the best medical advice for your pet.
Another important key to ensure your pet lives a long and happy life is vaccinating them against common diseases. In general, our hospital recommends canine companions should be protected against rabies, distemper, parvovirus, leptospirosis, and bordetella (kennel cough). While feline friends are guarded against rabies, distemper, and feline leukemia. Are there risks in getting vaccinations? Like any medical procedure, yes there is a small chance of side effects. However, the risk is much smaller than the immediate danger to unvaccinated pets. Our veterinarian will recommend vaccines based on your pet’s current health risks and needs.
Diet and Feeding Routines
Although your pet may not be worried about how they look in a swim suit, or if last year’s dress fits, sporting an ideal body weight is of upmost importance. Diet type and feeding routines are the foundation to a healthy nutritional plan.
The food isle at the local pet specialty store can be overwhelming. We want you to understand pet diets are not one size fits all, as nutritional requirements vary for each pet. For example, a senior pet has lower energy requirements then those of a younger pet. Some senior pets may need a special formulated diet based on a chronic medical condition. On the other hand, overweight pets require a low calorie high fiber diet for weight loss and management. Based on physical exam findings and wellness bloodwork we can determine the appropriate diet for your pet.
When it comes to feeding time, designate one person in the household to feed. Many times multiple family members are responsible which can cause a higher chance Fluffy may have received dinner twice. We all know they are not going to be honest when an extra meal is involved. Measuring food is exceptionally important. Remember there are 8 ounces in a cup, not 32. Many owners find the “2 cups” they were feeding were in reality 4 once they are given the proper measuring tools. Another helpful tip for pets eating multiple times a day is to measure once. Scoop out the daily allowance and feed strictly from that amount for the day. Feeding amount may vary per a pet’s activity level, age, and current body condition score.
Although dental health is celebrated every February, oral care is important more than 28 days a year. Signs of dental disease include: bad breath, loose teeth, excessive drooling, or bleeding gums to name a few. Daily brushing is not always an option. Due to advances in veterinary medicine there is a once a day treat called OraVet. This tasty treat is a convenient product that is equivalent to daily brushing . In addition to home dental care, professional dental cleanings will play a major role in maintaining good oral hygiene. During this procedure your pet will undergo a full oral exam, ultrasonic scaling, followed by polishing of the teeth, fluoride treatment, and laser therapy to reduce inflammation of the gums. If you feel your pet is experiencing any of the above symptoms, contact us today and say good-bye to bad breath.
River Mill Animal Hospital is excited to get this new year started. We want to help you and your pet succeed with a healthy life plan that we can all be proud of! Whether your senior pet has not been to the veterinarian in a while, you have weight loss concerns about your chunky comrade, or if your pet's breath is becoming unbearable, our staff is here to help guide you into a “pawsitive” direction in 2017. If you have any questions, please call our office at 813-501-4985.
Dr. Hodge and the staff wish you all a safe and Happy New Year!