Most pet owners view their pets as a family member, and studies have shown that pet owners tend to have lower blood pressure, resting heart rates, and heart disease risk than people who don’t own pets. In addition, pets have been shown to improve people’s mental health. Since pets provide so many benefits, our team at Columbia Pike Animal Hospital wants to suggest ways you can show your appreciation to your pet.

#1: Schedule a wellness visit for your pet

Your pet should be evaluated by a veterinary professional at least once a year, to ensure they are healthy. Pets are expert at stoically hiding illness signs, and wellness exams can catch diseases in the early stages when they are easier to treat and manage. A typical wellness exam includes:

  • Physical exam — Your pet will receive a thorough nose-to-tail physical examination and evaluation.
  • Blood work — Blood work, including a complete blood count and a biochemistry profile, also are performed to assess your pet’s health. In addition, a heartworm test may be recommended to ensure your pet’s heart is parasite-free, and a thyroid test if your pet is older than 6.
  • Urinalysis — Your pet’s urine will be tested to look for conditions such as diabetes, urinary tract infection, and urinary crystals.
  • Fecal check — Your pet’s feces will be tested for intestinal parasites.

#2: Keep your pet at an ideal weight

Pet obesity is a serious problem in the United States. Overweight pets are at a higher risk for dangerous conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, and kidney issues, and keeping your pet at an ideal weight helps protect them. Take the following steps to ensure your pet’s is at a healthy weight:

  • Weigh your pet — Weigh your pet regularly to ensure they are maintaining a healthy weight. Our Columbia Pike Animal Hospital veterinary professionals can determine if your pet needs to lose a few pounds and, if necessary, help tailor a weight loss program.
  • Body condition score (BCS) your pet — In addition to weighing your pet, you should evaluate their BCS regularly for a better idea of their weight status.
  • Calculate your pet’s energy requirements — Accurately calculate your pet’s daily energy requirements, to ensure they are fed the correct amount. Your pet’s weight, breed, age, neuter status, and activity level should all be considered when determining their daily calorie requirement.
  • Measure your pet’s food — Once you have determined how much food your pet needs per day, measure their portion size using a measuring cup or a kitchen scale, to ensure you are feeding the correct amount.

#3: Ensure your pet gets regular mental and physical exercise

All pets need daily physical exercise, with some breeds requiring more exercise than others to maintain their fitness level. Ensure you provide your pet not only with the appropriate amount of exercise, but also that you find new and exciting exercise methods. 

Mental exercise is equally important for your pet’s overall health and wellbeing, because mental stimulation can prevent behavioral problems, such as separation anxiety, destructive behavior, and urinating outside the litter box, and can also help prevent cognitive dysfunction, a common problem in older pets. Mental exercises for your pet include:

  • Teaching new tricks — Practicing a new trick once or twice a day helps keep pets mentally engaged.
  • Playing hide and seek — Let your pet use their tracking and hunting skills with a game of hide and seek.
  • Playing nose-work games — Nose-work games let your pet use their excellent sniffing skills.

#4: Ensure you are prepared for a pet emergency

Being prepared should your pet experience an emergency can increase their survival chances. Preparations should include:

  • Know what issues constitute a veterinary emergency Pet emergencies include issues such as severe bleeding, foreign body ingestion, eye injuries, difficulty breathing, and toxic substance ingestion.
  • Know the veterinary emergency number Columbia Pike Animal Hospital provides emergency care 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Ensure you know our emergency number in case your pet needs immediate veterinary attention.
  • Know the number for poison control — If you know or suspect your pet has ingested a toxin, call Animal Poison Control for expert advice.

#5: Consider insuring your pet

Veterinary bills can be extremely expensive, especially if your pet experiences an emergency. Pet insurance can help mitigate these costs, and help you make a decision based on your pet’s needs rather than how much you can afford. Plans include:

  • Emergency plans — These policies cover only emergency issues, such as broken bones, foreign body ingestion, poisoning, puncture wounds, and eye trauma.
  • Disease plans — These policies cover issues such as arthritis, kidney disease, diabetes, and ear infections, but may not be available if your pet is older, or your pet’s condition is considered pre-existing and therefore excluded in the policy.
  • Wellness plans — A wellness policy covers care such as vaccinations, parasite control measures, spay and neuter procedures, and dental cleanings. 

Taking care of your pet is the best way to show your appreciation. We appreciate your pet, too, and we suggest that you contact our Columbia Pike Animal Hospital team, so we can give them a wellness check, and help you express your gratitude.