Leesburg Veterinary Hospital’s 2016 New Year’s Resolutions Tips
Happy New Year and welcome to 2016 – a time for a fresh start and a great opportunity to set up healthy habits for both you and your furry family members. While you’re working hard at carrying out your New Year’s resolutions, also make a commitment to your pets to help them have their healthiest year yet!
Below, the doctors from Leesburg Veterinary Hospital share their tips to help you stay on track all year long.
Dr. Strickland suggests:
Take it slow when starting a new exercise regimen – especially during the colder winter months!
It may sound counter-intuitive, but my recommendation is avoid too much exercise this winter with your pets. Since most of our pets are “couch potatoes”, their bodies are not prepared for the cold weather in regards to pad protection or keeping warm. Even though they have a fur coat, animals are not as conditioned for cold as you might think. We recommend a coat for short hair animals. Also, be aware of their feet for snow balls in the webbing and ice cutting their pads with exuberant exercise. And watch out for over-exertion in the deep snow . Many animals will tear knee ligaments and pull muscles by running and jumping in the snow, especially when adrenaline makes them feel like they can keep up with you.
Dr. Boyle suggests:
Maintain a healthy weight and body condition by measuring food.
My tip would be to keep or get your pet to a healthy weight and body condition! Excess weight increases the risk for developing endocrine and systemic diseases and puts increased stress on the joints and heart. Pets in an ideal body condition enjoy a longer and higher quality life!
One of the easiest ways to maintain a healthy weight and body condition is to focus on the amount and type of foods your pet is eating. Start by simply measuring how much food goes into their bowl. You’d be surprised how many people just fill up the bowl once a day or whenever pets start scratching or begging. The nutrition label on their food bag will give you a good idea of what a reasonable amount of food is for your pet’s weight. Additionally, when a pet is on a diet, make sure you are feeding a “light” or diet food so they are getting the appropriate amount of vitamins and minerals. And don’t forget about treats and table scraps, which can add a lot of unnecessary fat and calories. Substitute a baby carrot, slice of apple or a few kernels of plain microwave popcorn for dogs, and a small piece of canned tuna or chicken for cats.
Discuss steps for weight loss or maintaining weight with your veterinarian to be sure it is done safely.
Dr. Kloer suggests:
Don’t postpone preventative care
Annual examinations for younger animals and bi-annual exams for older patients are so important. I’ve noticed a trend towards only seeing patients when they are sick – sometimes really sick!. Wellness exams and preventive diagnostics go a long way to treating disease early and keeping vet bills down later on! Labwork, X-rays, ultrasounds, aspirates of seemingly “benign” lumps, and dental cleanings before teeth get really bad are all so important to maintaining pet health. A little effort up front can save a lot of money down the road.
These services are just as important as vaccinations and annual heartworm and lyme tests. This applies to cats too! Cats are so good at hiding signs of disease, which is even more important to bring them in. If you need assistance getting that sneaky cat to the vet – see: http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/cats/tips/take-cat-vet.html
Also, if you notice a change in your pet’s behavior or medical status, it’s best to give us a call rather than taking a “ wait and see approach” or consulting internet sites first. While the internet provides a vast knowledge of information, there is just as much misinformation – some of which can be very deleterious to our pets. Your vet may be able to give you reputable online resources for specific situations. Lastly, don’t forget about exotics and pocket pets – these little ones need vet check ups too!
Dr. Melberger suggests:
Brush your pet’s teeth, ideally a few times per week.
To follow up on Dr. Kloer’s point, dental health can be so easy to overlook, but it really is a vital part of keeping your pet healthy and happy. The “gold standard” is a toothbrush (or finger brush) and enzymatic toothpaste. Most pets are surprisingly tolerant of these, but, of course, not all are. For pets that are more standoffish or stubborn to a brush, dental chews are a possible second choice.
It is also very important that pets not be allowed to chew on items that are too hard as this could cause their teeth to fracture. A good rule of thumb is that if you can’t dent the chew toy with your fingernail, then it is probably too hard for your pet to safely chew on it.
Just like us, brushing does not replace the need for a professional cleaning, but it can dramatically increase the interval of time before a pet needs their teeth cleaned again. Another huge benefit of maintaining your pet’s dental health is their breath will be so much better!
For a great demonstration of how easy it is to brush your pet’s teeth, watch this video of Dr. Boyle with her lovely assistant, Elphie.
Dr. Henly suggests:
Schedule a blood pressure check
Regular blood pressure checks are important in diagnosing hypertension (high blood pressure). In many cases, hypertension is a result of an underlying disease or condition. We can prevent organ damage to the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, and eyes and make recommendations for management including medication and diet to prevent the progression of such problems.
We hope these suggestions help you and your furry friends have a happy and healthy 2016. Do you have a pet resolution that wasn’t mentioned? Please share in the comments section or on our Facebook page.